Bunting: Part 1- historical and personal perspectives.

A post about making bunting has been on my mind since April!  Now Autumn is approaching in the Northern Hemisphere and bunting doesn’t seem entirely topical but I’d like to share these thoughts and experiences before all memories of flags fluttering in a summer breeze are utterly lost.  In my next post I will explain the two methods I have used to make bunting flags and share a few tips and pitfalls.   Before the tutorial in Part 2 just a little bit of information about the origins of bunting and a snip-it of my personal bunting history (how weird does that sound?).

Flags and banners have been a part of military history for thousands of years so it’s not surprising to learn that bunting was being used by European navies as a means of sending signals as far back as the early 17th century.

Image result for images of naval buntingThe flags were made from a durable, lightweight worsted wool fabric known then as ‘butline’.  So I guess over the following centuries the word ‘bunting’ came about and was used to describe the rows of flags rather than the fabric with which they were made.  Of course, rows of flags are not exclusive to European battle fleets!

The prayer flags streaming across valleys in the Himalayan mountains came to my to mind; they are a cultural tradition dating back to ‘Bon’ a religion that preceded Buddhism.  There must be many other examples of rows of flags being used in different cultures and through the ages from all around the world.

Image result for images of WW2 street partiesBunting has become part of celebration. Remember seeing photos of the flags strung across streets of terraced houses for post-war street parties?  I recall having bunting around our front door in celebration of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977. Since then, the flag colours have been less influenced by patriotism and bunting can now be a feature indoors as well as out.  In 2012 though, patriotic red, white and blue bunting was out in force in the UK.  We had the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee to celebrate and we were hosting the Olympic Games.

With the Diamond Jubilee I went into red, white and blue bunting mode, hung a string outside and sold some more to my generous neighbours.  Unfortunately the ‘summer’ of 2012 was very, very wet!  The bunting flags got soaked many times over and the colours faded rapidly…

If you need a giggle watch these valiant singers ‘keeping calm and carrying on’ in honour of our Queen at the finale to the Diamond Jubilee River Pageant!

Sadly everyone got drenched watching the Jubilee River Pageant in May.  Thankfully by August the skies had just about run out of rain and most of the Olympic events took place in the dry!

A year or two before 2012 I’d formed a dream based on my new found passion for patchwork and quilting: I’d like to sell fabric, maybe even run a patchwork and quilting shop.  But I had a critical problem: no capital…  I thought maybe I could make and sell things to accumulate some funds.  I started small with bunting: having successfully made some for my daughters birthday party.  I made a lot of bunting and managed to sell some at school fairs and the like but sadly didn’t make much of a profit.

I suspect part of the reason I haven’t gained much of a profit making and selling bunting is that I’ve tended to err on the perfectionist side of bunting making!  I had to revise this approach when our daughter and future son-in-law announced their engagement; plans for the wedding day began and I was pleased to be asked to make ‘some’ bunting.  Daughter had the bright idea of using cheap poly-cotton bedding as a source of fabrics and we bought new from ASDA and secondhand from charity shops.  Did you know a single bed sheet will make around 60 double-sided bunting flags?

P1000163I don’t know how many flags I cut out and stitched but I calculated I’d made around 150 metres of bunting!  We decorated their Church and the reception hall and there were a few lengths left over (better safe than sorry!).


Happy memories!  Next time I’ll share both my perfectionist and quick methods for making bunting!


About allisonreidnem

New Every Morning – About Me Hi! I’m Allison, an obsessive patchwork-quilter who has no desire to be cured! I’ve been developing my skills and knowledge by paying attention at my local quilting group and by putting my questions into the computer search engine. I’m so grateful to the generous people who have taken the time to share their knowledge with me in person, via YouTube videos or their blogs. I’m intending my blog to be a link into the worldwide patchwork and quilting community and a means to contribute helpful hints and inspiration as I continue to discover more about this addictive craft. So, why ‘New Every Morning Patchwork and Quilting’? Well! I am a morning person! I often wake in the wee small hours and think through design and quilt construction issues. My woolly–headed evening brain finds such issues far too difficult to resolve! If I’m disciplined enough to be asleep by 10pm, I can be up cutting, piecing, pressing and quilting before sunrise! By the time daily family routine kicks-in I’ve had a satisfying, soul-feeding creative fix. (I should mention that ‘family at home’ is: my patient, faithful husband of 27years; and our equally patient 16 year old son, who acts as our in-house IT support complete with sighs and rolling eyes! Older daughter and son have both recently flown the nest). Not only do I find early mornings my creative time I also find it a time for receiving spiritual nourishment. I often find myself humming a gentle chorus and reflecting on God’s constancy as another new day dawns. ‘The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning, new every morning; Great is thy faithfulness, O Lord, Great is thy faithfulness.’ Edith McNeil’s chorus is based on verses from the Bible – Lamentations 3: 21-23.
This entry was posted in Family, History, Selling craft. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Bunting: Part 1- historical and personal perspectives.

  1. Helen says:

    Love that you were able to decorate the church and reception hall
    You must have great patience

  2. Colleen says:

    bunting is so festive, and yours looks so nice – love the colours ! reading the part about the signal flags reminded me of walking around the marina when we were in Mexico last winter and ‘reading’ the flags on the boats, ahhhh, to be back there. I sometimes wonder how I ended up land-locked on the prairies ! 😉

  3. Pingback: Bunting Part 2: Tutorials for ‘quick bunting’ and ‘perfectionist bunting’ |

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