Because life’s celebrations shouldn’t cost the Earth

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

DIY Applique Bunting Tutorial

Meet 'Refuse' Chester Le Street! 

Due to the increasing health needs of my elderly parents-in-law, I now have precious little time to blog or sew but I've been working late into the night this week to welcome a wonderful new venture to Durham!

The REfUSE Cafe is a not-for-profit social enterprise which collects food that would otherwise go in the bin to make delicious Pay-As-You-Feel (PAYF) meals.  Its founders are Nikki Dravers and Mim Skinner who met as students at Durham University.  After graduation Nikki worked at the Durham Marriott Hotel where, at end of every breakfast shift, she was told to throw away huge amounts of mushrooms, sausages, bacon, bread and freshly squeezed juice. In the afternoons she was volunteering for the Salvation Army in Durham where she witnessed real food poverty, this injustice led Nikki to The Real Junk Food Project which in turn inspired her to set up REfUSE and, after a couple of years operating as a 'pop-up', they now have a permanent location in Chester-le-Street.

All the food in the cafe is provided by local shops, supermarkets and businesses having been deemed to be either 'surplus' or past its 'best before' date. The menu is ever changing, as it is obviously dependant on what has been donated on the day, but expect lots of delicious soup and curries, gorgeous quiches, filling sandwiches and simply scrumptious cakes - all lovingly hand baked on the premises!  Customers are then provided with an envelope so that they can pay what they feel is an appropriate amount for their feast.

To celebrate this amazing venture I've stitched Mim and Nikki a string of personalised bunting, fashioned from some of Mr Larkin's worn out work shirts!          

Upcycled Shirt Bunting Tutorial

The first step is to make a template for your fabric letters and bunting flags. Simply use Microsoft Publisher/Word, or similar software, to create a 14 cm equilateral triangle and then resize your chosen font (I used 'Moonflower' to match the cafe's logo) until the letters fit nicely in the middle of the triangle.  Print onto thin card and cut out. 


Now take your card letters and turn them over before tracing around them onto the smooth side of a sheet of Bondaweb.  Iron onto the wrong side of  your dark fabric and cut out.....They will now be facing the right way round!  Cut the required number of pennant flags from (upcycled) fabrics, not forgetting to cut out the same number of linings. 

I then introduced some lace to the design as I thought a touch of 'shabby chic' would work well in the cafe.  

If you also fancy this look simply stitch a strip of lace to the top of each of your fabric triangles 

Now take your Bondaweb letters and remove the backing paper before placing them centrally onto the flag fronts and, once you're happy with the positioning, fix into place with a hot iron.

Next, using black thread and an open-toe machine foot, sew around each of the letters at least twice to create a 'sketchy' feel.  Don't worry if you have a couple of wobbles as this all adds to the appeal of raw edge appliqué!

Place each appliquéd flag onto a triangle cut from your lining fabric, right sides together, and stitch the side seams leaving the top open (it looks like I've stitched the top seam, but that's just where the lace was sewn onto the triangles!).  Trim seam allowances and clip the bottom point to reduce bulk. Turn the flags right side out and use a chopstick or blunt stick to carefully push out the points, then gently press with a warm iron.

Finally, unfold a length bias binding tape and place flags inside at approximately 2 cms intervals, lining up top edges.  Make sure you leave at least 15 cms of tape at both ends of the garland for hanging purposes, then machine stitch.  If you don’t have any bias-binding simply use some pretty ribbon or tape folded in half.

You've now created a beautiful upcycled fabric bunting garland! 

Perfect for summer vibes!

REfUSE Waste....

Recycle Food and Fabric!

Should you ever find yourself in the stunning North East of England pop into the REfUSE Cafe for a delicious, and ethical, handcooked lunch!


  1. Hi Josie, It is lovely to see you back, especially with a post about such a fantastic enterprise. I love the idea of this cafe but am really saddened about how polarised society is becoming and the growing need for such places. Rant over! :)

    Your bunting is absolutely gorgeous and I am sure that it was very much appreciated. Even better to be made out of recycled materials. Sorry to hear about your parents-in-law. I hope that they are keeping as well as can be. sending the warmest regards to you and yours. Xx

  2. I am just making bunting from shirt pockets for our Big Stitch day, love the lace across the top thanks for the idea Josie:)
    Will be back in the North East next year so will check out the cafe then too!
    Nice to hear from you too, hope you are looking after yourself as well as your in-laws.

  3. Welcome back!!! What a great enterprise. Love your bunting. Have a great week and thanks for the wished for Skipper. Hugs Anesha

  4. You have been missed, welcome back. As usual your sewing is perfect and very pretty. What a good idea for a cafe. Please take care of yourself, caring for elderly family members can be all encompassing that your own life gets put on the back burner so its good that you have had a break with a lovely sewing project x

  5. What an awesome cafe idea... and so is your bunting! Adorable!


  6. What a beautiful, clever bunting! Now I wish I had kept many of my husband's work shirts instead of giving them to Good Will. He retired a year ago and I could've used a few of them to make a bunting like this! Thank you for your sweet comment on my blog at Hazel's Daughter. I wanted to reply, but it states that you are a no-reply blogger! So glad I could find you here!

  7. So beautiful, I love the lace touch. And what a great project to support.

  8. Very fitting that you've used pre-loved shirts to make your beautiful bunting, Josie. The lace finishes them off beautifully. Showcased today.

  9. Great Share! useful! This is something really helpful. Thanks for sharing in such detailed manner.
    Orthopaedic office chair

  10. A very good tutorial. Such advice is very helpful to me. I enjoyed to visiting your blog. You have done a really nice job. The postings on your site are always excellent.