Party Pennants: A child’s first sewing project

We love our party flags. Buntings, pennants, banners, whatever you want to call them: those brightly colored triangles just yell “happy” to me – and they fill our house year ’round.

red bunting

Our kitchen set

They are in the kitchen, the eating area, the kids’ bedrooms, and for birthdays, we string them up in the living room as well. I sewed the first set for a friend after seeing them in the Land of Nod catalog four years ago – and haven’t stopped since. Originally, I put them up for birthdays – but now we just add more strings when it is an actual celebration. I’m sure that I’ll tire of them eventually – but I haven’t quite yet.

I love giving a string of them as gifts: birthdays, care packages, hospital stays, new babies. I even made a set as part of a “thanks-for-being-on-call-for-past-three-weeks-while-we-wait-for-our-new-baby’s-arrival” gift. So when we needed a last minute gift (poor planning on my part) for a grandma’s retirement party – they seemed like a natural choice. Even better than that, the kids did the sewing!

bunting fabric scraps

My children have been anxious to use the sewing machine for years, and after reading this post by the incredible LiEr, I decided that this was the summer to introduce them to the machine.

There are plenty of great tutorials for making buntings and pennants online (and this isn’t one of them) – but here’s what we did:

I traced a triangle onto pieces of fabric and set the children up at the sewing machine to follow the lines, sewing the two pieces of fabric together.  This truly was a perfect beginning sewing project. I explained the different parts of the machine, and let them get started with some fabric scraps. When it was time for them to work on the triangles, they had to follow the drawn line, slow the machine down for the corner, and pivot the fabric with the needle in.

The children each picked their color to work on, and watched the others while they waited for their turn. Working on sewing an individual triangle gave them a chance to take a break long enough to pick out their next color and get back in line. The five year old just sewed two of them, and was ready to go do something else – but the other two stuck with it.

blue bunting trimmed

Afterward, I used the ruler to measure 1/4 inch from the sewing line and trimmed it with the rotary cutter. I do appreciate proper enclosed seams, but for party decorations, the pinked edge works just fine for us.

Happy scraps: perfect for art projects

Normally, I would have used matching thread, but I wanted the children to be able to see their sewing line clearly. Besides, I was pushing my luck (and timing) already with three children and one sewing machine (and one napping baby) – we didn’t have time for color changes on thread!

Once the line is erased with water, the crooked sewing won’t be as noticeable. (This was one of the very first ones – the sewing improved vastly!)

After I trimmed them up, I arranged them for the binding. I use a double fold bias tape quilt binding to connect them. For me, it’s easier and more time efficient just to spend the $2 on the binding rather than make it myself.

I open up the binding, insert the triangle, and sew it closed close to the edge.

After I finished the bunting, I hung it on the fence, and called the children out to see it. They were so excited, and quite honestly, amazed at what they had done. It certainly didn’t look like a first project for a 5, 7, and 8 year old! It was a proud moment for all of us.

4 Comments on “Party Pennants: A child’s first sewing project

  1. How wonderful! The pennants turned out beautifully, and how great it is that they wanted to use the machine they see you using and were able to create something so beautiful!

    • Thanks, Karen! The best part was all of the comments from the two oldest, congratulating me for all of the sewing on the quilts, pajamas, and dresses over the years. “Wow, Mom – this is a lot of work!” Music to a mother’s ears! 🙂

  2. Looks like something I could try at home; perhaps by myself instead of with helpers. 🙂 Do you normally use about 10-12 triangles for a good grouping?

    • I usually use eleven. The odd number makes for a nicer grouping, and it leaves 6-10 inches on each end for tying them up. When I’ve included more triangles in the past, I sew on a little plastic ring to each bias tape end for hanging. Can’t wait to see what you make! (without your helpers!)

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