American Holiday Bunting From Thrift Shop Fabric

3 Materials
1 Day

Our patriotic bunting comes out of storage for Memorial Day and stays outside all summer, rain or shine. It's made from thrift shop clothing and can be put together easily with fabric glue and a long pole for the top edge.

This fun vintage-look bunting started out as a red calico skirt, a blue print shirt, and a light blue ruffled dress found in a local thrift shop. When the bunting comes out of storage in early summer, we spritz it with water and let it freshen up in the breeze. You'll need a pole, about 8-feet wide, for the top edge of the bunting if you'd like to make one like ours. We hang ours using the pole which is inserted along the top edge, attached to our railings with bits of wire.

Here's what the bunting looked like after cutting and assembling, but before it was stamped with white stars. All you'll really need besides the fabric and the pole, is scissors and fabric glue. You can also hand-stitch this or stamp it with white stars.

Our plan was to make this look like antique bunting, as if handmade by a great-great-grandmother with petticoats and dresses. It's faded now after a few year's use, but that was something we looked forward to even when it was still brightly colored.

If you can't locate old red, white, and blue clothing for this project remember you can use colors that are close relatives, like rose, light blue or yellow, and dark teal or lavender-blue, which will look like faded vintage American bunting. We have more details about how to do this color modification on the Stephie McCarthy blog here.

Here's how to make this bunting step-by-step. We'll start with a large skirt for the main piece of the bunting. 1. Cut open one of the seams from top to bottom, 2. Make deep hems for the pole, checking carefully that your pole will fit through these hem channels. 3. Leave 3" at the tops of the hems to gather into a rosette.The diagram below will guide you in how to gather a rosette in the center of the bunting.

4. Insert a pole into the two hem channels, and gather the excess fabric in the center into a loose rose shape. 

5. Hold the rose shape together with a ribbon or rubber band.

Here's a view of the bunting after we've inserted the pole and gathered the waistband into a rose held with a rubber band.

6. Using a shirt for the 2nd tier, cut it from underarm to underarm and use the bottom section. Leave any buttons for handmade detailing. 

7. The top of the shirt will be gathered under the rosette. Pin before gluing in place. The button and button hole sides will be attached to the top edge of the bunting. Lastly, tack down the red rosette along the bottom edge so that it lies more flat. 

This is how the bunting looked after we added the blue shirt, but hadn't yet tacked down the red rosette or added ruffles.

Just one more step! You'll need enough white (or light colored) ruffles for the edge of the blue shirt, plus a 14" section to bunch into a small rosette. We cut our ruffles from the bottom of a petit dress with a full skirt. For the small rosette, bunch together 14" section of the ruffles, hold with a small rubber band, and glue inside the red rosette as shown above. Then glue the remaining white ruffles to the bottom of the blue shirt. We used little drops of glue here and there to keep things where we wanted it. Aileen's Fabric Glue was our choice because it will grab the fabric and hold it in place while you work and will not weaken if the bunting gets wet later, when displayed outside.

Here's the rustic star shape cut from food-tray foam, dipped in water-based white paint which we used to add two rows of stars to the blue layer of bunting.

You can make smaller bunting with children's clothing. Don't worry about making everything match. Using what you can find is part of the fun! For more information on this project, check out our blog post at Stephie McCarthy.

Resources for this project:

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Stephie McCarthy
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

Frequently asked questions

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  • Emmawilliams1 Emmawilliams1 on Jun 08, 2019

    You could also use an old shower curtain rod..It seems I always have one or two standing in a corner of the shed?!? I never buy unless have for thought!


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