Love the idea of wedding bunting, but don’t have the budget to buy it or the sewing skills to make it? No problem, neither did we but we found a way. And in today’s post I’m going to share our guide to making easy DIY bunting, without any sewing.
As soon as we decided we were having a country fair kind of wedding, we knew that bunting would be part of our decorations. The problem was that neither of us had done much sewing since textiles classes at school (we can replace the odd button but that’s about it). The idea of us sewing meters and meters of bunting, had disaster written all over it. So we needed another, simpler way for us to get the bunting we wanted. After searching around the web, I found some tutorials for making bunting using cardboard. Excellent! Cutting card we could do.
I still wanted the flag to be covered in pretty patterns, like fabric bunting usually is. But buying enough sheets of patterned card was going to be expensive. Patterned card only seemed to be sold in small sheets, and the choice of patterns was a bit pants really. Tissue paper is another story; lots of choice, big sheets and not so expensive. So we created our own large sheets of patterned card by sticking tissue paper to plain white A1 card. I’ve included making the patterned card in the step below as I’ve not seen this anywhere else.
What You’ll Need for the DIY Bunting
The first thing to do is to work out how much bunting you need to make. Working out the length of the bunting involves a “parabolic segment calculation” (can you tell I’m an engineer??). But don’t worry, you don’t need to do the maths, I’ve created a little spreadsheet to work it all out for you. Click here to go to the bunting calculator. The key bit of information you’ll need is the distance between the hanging points (the ends) of the bunting. The spreadsheet will work out the rest. You can make a copy of the bunting calculator to save the numbers if you want (go to File > Make a Copy… and save it to your own Google Drive).
So you will need:
- White A1 card – We brought 25 sheets of 250gsm A1 white card from Amazon for about £20 (we didn’t need that many but it was a good deal).
- 20″ x 30″ patterned tissue paper – The tissue we chose was around £3 for 4 sheets. The patterns were song birds, peonies, white and yellow polka dot
and green seersucker stripes (sadly the last two aren’t available as I write this).
- String – We used natural jute twine like this one, it has a rough texture to stop the flags slipping around.
- Spray adhesive – We used the 3M Spraymount Adhesive Spray. You can get a light, even spread of glue with a spray adhesive.
- Meter rule – You need a metal rule to cut against, like this Faithfull 1m Aluminium Rule.
- Craft knife – We have a Swann-Morton Retractaway Handle with the No. 10A Blades (the retractable blade means I’m a bit less likely to stab myself).
- Cutting board – It needs to be quite big, so we used a old scrap bit of board.
- Hole punch – Any 2-hole punch should be fine.
- Sponge – We used one that’s meant for cleaning your car, but it just needs to be soft and clean.
- A helper – We found that making the patterned card needs two people to stick the tissue paper because the sheets are quite large.
- A cover to protect your surfaces when your spraying the glue – Scrap card or an old sheet will do.
Don’t forget to use our bunting calculator to work out the quantities of supplies you need.
Making The Patterned Card
Step 1 – Prep Your Work Space
We used two scrap sheets of the A1 card taped together to protect the floor from the spray adhesive. We marked the corners of the tissue paper sheet on the scrap card so we always put the tissue in the same place, and not on a sticky bit we’d sprayed before. An old sheet or something would work fine instead.
Lay a sheet of A1 card on your table ready to stick the tissue paper to. To stop the card moving, we used masking tape to stick three corners of the card to our table as shown in the image below. You might want to check the masking tape won’t damage the table by trying it on a hidden bit first.
Open a window to let out the fumes from the spray adhesive!
Step 2 – Spraying the Tissue
Lay a sheet of tissue paper patterned side down in your spraying area.
Shake the spray adhesive. Hold the can about a hands length above the card. Lightly spray the entire sheet. Start in one corner and continuously move the can from side to side working your way across.
The glue dries fairly quickly, so you can’t leave it at this stage to make a cuppa or anything. After 30 seconds it goes tacky which is good for positioning.
Step 3 – Smoothing the Tissue on to the Card
Each person should pick up two corners of the tissue. Turn it over so the tacky side is facing down and move over to your A1 card.
You should place one corner of the tissue paper on to the corner of the A1 card not taped to the table. Then line up your other corner with the edge of the card, and stick this down. Your helper should be holding the tissue taut and off the card while you do this.
As your helper slowly lowers their end of the tissue paper, you use the sponge to smooth the tissue on to the card. Use gentle strokes away from you. Do this slowly so you can make adjustments. Don’t worry too much if it creases, you can use the sponge to work the crease out (no-ones going to see a little crease anyway).
Step 4 – And Repeat
Let it dry for a minute or so before turning the card over and re-taping it to the table.
Repeat steps 2 and 3 to stick the tissue paper to the other side. Make sure you stick the second sheet of tissue to the same corner as the first so it matches up.
You’ll then need to repeat steps 2-4 to make as many A1 sheets as you need, alternating the tissue paper patterns.
Making the Flags
Step 5 – Marking Out
Use your rule and pencil to mark out the lines shown in the picture below on the patterned area of your card. We didn’t want to waste the patterned card, so we made small flags from the scrap pieces at the ends (shown in the picture) which we used for mini-bunting to decorate our card box.
Step 6 – Cutting Out
Make sure your craft knife has a sharp blade so you get clean cuts. You may need to change the blade to keep it sharp if your cutting out a lot of flags. Be REALLY careful with your craft knife. Keep your fingers well away from the blade when your cutting. It’s very easy to slice the tip of a finger (and it’s amazing how much it bleeds). Use your common sense and it’ll be fine.
Put the patterned card on your cutting board. Trim off the excess card around the patterned area, using the craft knife and meter rule. Press the rule down firmly so you can push the craft knife along it and get straight edge.
Now you need to cut along all the lines you marked out. We found it easiest to cut along the centre line first so you can work on half at a time.
Repeat steps 5 and 6 for all the sheets of patterned card.
Step 7 – Making Holes
Use the hole punch to make two holes on the shortest edge of each flag. Don’t put the holes too close to the edge or corners so they’re less likely to tear.
Assembling the Bunting
Step 8 – Cutting the String
You’ll probably need your helper again for this. Use your meter rule to measure out your lengths of string. Don’t forget the extra string for hanging, if you’ve used the bunting calculator, this will be included. Mark 0.5m from each end of the cut string so you can see where the flags should start and end.
Tie a small knot at the cut ends to stop it fraying.
Step 9 – Threading the Flags
It’s now time to put the bunting together. Layout the correct number of flags for the string you’re working on. If you’ve got different patterns, alternate them in the order you want.
Thread the string through the holes in the flag. Move the first flag to the 0.5m marker you made. Carry on threading the flags on to the string and moving them along. Keep about a flags width between flags. If you’re using rough twine, as we did, the flags should stay in place. This is a bit of a boring, repetitive job. Get someone else to help, or do it while watching tv like me.
Once you’ve threaded on all the flags, concertina the string so all the flags are back to back. Wrap the extra string around the flags and tuck the ends under. This should keep your bunting tangle free until you need to use it.
Time to Get Making
We hope you enjoy making this bunting as much as we did. It was one of the key decorations for our wedding, and we have some of it hanging up in our house today.
Bunting is great for any occasion. You could add a message by printing and cutting out large letters to stick to the flags, turning it in to a happy birthday or Christmas garland. The options are endless.
If you follow our steps to make your own bunting we would love to see the results, so please share a picture with us on Facebook.