Because life’s celebrations shouldn’t cost the Earth

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Upcycled Vintage Linen Bunting Tutorial

Repurposed Embroidery ~ Tablecloth Garland DIY!

It's been a year since my last post, but I have been kept busy!  I  gave up teaching in 2016, when I was manoeuvred into being a carer for my husband's parents, and it turns out looking after the elderly takes as much time and emotional energy as full-time teaching, marking and preparation!  

I can now only muster the time to sew 'special projects' and this is one of those.  Last month a very lovely friend gifted me the most amazing stash of material and vintage linens.  His father has recently died and so David and his sister have been house clearing - The females of the family were extremely talented needlewomen and I have been honoured to receive work created by his mother, aunt and grandmother.           

Look at the tablecloth above - It is absolutely beautiful!  It can seem strange to cut up such gorgeous pieces of work, but as so few of us now use tablelinens, these family heirlooms risk being tucked away in a drawer never seeing the light of day!  By repurposing them into new items they can once again be enjoyed on a daily basis.  

Bunting garlands are very easy to create, if you can sew in a straight line you can make one.  Even if your seams aren't quite straight....then simply embrace your very own shabby chic boho vibe!


The first step is to choose the shape of your bunting flags, this will depend on personal choice and the design and size of the embroidery on your vintage linens.  Just to get you started, here's some ideas;


I wanted to stitch up two strings of bunting, so that David and his sister could each have a set.  The two tablecloths I picked out to use suited quite different flag shapes and sizes, but the same method was used to create both. 

Once you've decided on your flag shape, the next step is to make a template.  Now maths and geometry are not my thing so there's no chance of me using a set square and protractor or even a ruler ~ instead I just created my templates in Word.  Simply open a new blank document, click on insert shapes, pick the one you want and then flip and drag it your heart's content!

Now trace your flag template onto a piece of clear acetate, you can either do this straight from your computer screen or print a paper copy first.  

Tip: I keep the clear windows from cardboard packaging (giftsets, toiletries etc) for just this purpose, it saves me money and acetate needs separating from cardboard before it goes into the recycling bin anyway!

Next, gently press your antique linens and if they've become thin from countless years of love and use, stabilise by applying iron-on interfacing. Mark out your first bunting flag using the clear acetate template to select your favourite areas of embroidery (fussy cutting) and then cut out. Repeat for the desired number of flags.

Using the template and lining fabric, cut out flags for the reverse of the bunting. Place right sides together with linen front pieces and then machine stitch around three sides, leaving the tops open.

Trim seam allowances, clipping across the bottom point, to reduce bulk

Turn the flags right sides out and gently push out the point using a chop-stick or other blunt instrument. Trim off the little ‘ears’ at the top to create a straight edge, then press.

Unfold a length of co-ordinating bias-binding and place the flags (approximately 1cm apart) inside it. Remember to allow some spare tape at either end of the bunting garland so that it can be tied or hung in its finished position. Machine stitch into place using the fold line as your guide.

 Now fold the bias binding over to the back of the garland and hand or machine sew into place (Alternatively, for a quicker, easier and cheaper finish, simply fold and press a length of ribbon or plain tape in half and then machine stitch flags into place). 

And that's it, a beautiful bunting garland, full of love and memories!

Perfect for an Easter Party or Spring Wedding!

Baby blue lace bias binding perfectly accentuates the delicate Forget-Me-Nots 

All done, ready to be gifted back to the original seamstress's grandchildren!

It was such a pleasure to be able to bring a family item back to life, all too often these amazing linens end up being thrown away or sold in charity shops and car boot sales for mere pennies.  They also make stunning zipper pouches, quilts and bag, I shall be keeping my eye out during the summer car boot season ready to rescue even more!