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Learn-to-Spell Alphabet Bunting

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R is for Read-to-Me. This super cute Alphabet Bunting tutorial not only creates a banner that looks great, it's also a secret learn-to-spell game. All the pennants have a front and back so you can put a different letter on each side. And, they're easy to string and re-string, so you can make lots and spell out a new word every day. May we suggest: I LOVE SEW4HOME?! 

A big part of learning to spell and read is recognizing the letters. This banner is a clever way to make the alphabet a festive part of your tot's room décor. The tutorial is so fast and easy, you could make dozens of pennant letters faster than you can spell supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. For our sample, we decided to spell: Storybook, which meant we needed enough supplies to create nine double-sided pennants.

Our free pennant pattern, which you can download below, is 6" x 7" – so your fabric scraps should be just slightly larger. Layer Cake squares are a perfect pre-cut option. We fussy cut each triangle to center the motif, creating a dandy little decoration.

Our original sample was made using the Lil' Rascals collection by Chloe's Closet for Moda Fabrics. This in an older collection that is no longer readily available for purchase. Have fun browsing through all the current children's fabric available; there's something for everybody. A few of our new favorite layer cake options from Fat Quarter Shop are shown below: Farm Girl by October Afternoon for Riley Blake Designs, Play Ball 2 by Lori Whitlock for Riley Blake Designs and Apple Farm by Elea Lutz for Penny Rose Fabrics. There are many other layer cake options to pick from as well as an incredible selection of fabric and other precuts.

          

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

Click to Enlarge

The list below reflects our nine-pennant sample... expand to your heart's content.

  • Scrap fabrics or layer cake pre-cuts for pennants; we used 18 layer cake squares for our 9 pennants (remember: you need a front fabric and a back fabric)
  • 1 pack (three yards) of double-fold bias tape quilt binding (⅞") in a color to compliment your fabric; we used a dark red
  • Soft cording in a length to fit your space; we used about 10' of nylon paracord 
    NOTE: You need to figure about 6½" for each pennant, plus about 1" on either side for letter spacing, plus enough at each end to tie or tack the banner in place.
  • 2" iron-on letters; we used black block letters 
  • 2 yards of 20"+ lightweight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon Shir-Tailor
  • All purpose thread to match fabric and binding
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors
  • Pinking shears
  • Tape measure
  • Straight pins
  • Safety pin
  • 9 wooden clothes pins; one for each pennant

Getting Started

  1. Download and print the Pennant Pattern.
    IMPORTANT: This pattern is ONE 8½" x 11" sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guideline on the pattern so you can confirm your printout is to scale.
  2. Cut out the pattern along the solid line.
  3. Using the pattern as your guide, plan a fussy cut for each pennant so it will have a nicely centered design. Each pennant has a front and a back, so you'll need two pieces of fabric for each pennant. For our sample, we collected nine front squares/scraps and nine back squares/scraps.
  4. Cut ONE 7" x 8" rectangle from the fusible interfacing for each pennant. For our sample, we cut EIGHTEEN pieces of fusible interfacing. 
  5. Cut ONE 7½" length of binding for each pennant pair. For our sample, we cut NINE 7½" lengths of binding.
  6. Cut apart the iron-on letters you need into single letters.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Create a fusing block from which to cut each pennant. To do this, follow the manufacturer's direction to fuse one 7" x 8" piece of interfacing on the wrong side of each piece of pennant fabric. Place each interfacing rectangle so it is directly behind your pre-planned 6" x 7" triangle fussy cut area.
    Click to Enlarge
  2. Place the pennant pattern on the right side of the fabric (in that pre-planned position) and pin in place.
    Click to Enlarge
  3. Using the pinking shears, cut just outside the edge of the paper pattern around all three sides. Do not cut on the paper itself.
  4. Repeat to cut out all your pennants.
  5. Mix and match the different pennants into pairs, so you have a pleasing variety of prints. Place each pair wrong sides together (interfaced sides together).
  6. Pin each pair together so the 'pinks' align exactly along each edge.
  7. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch around all three sides, pivoting at both corners and the bottom point.
    Click to Enlarge
  8. Using the see-trhough ruler, mark where you want your letters to be. We positioned ours in the exact center side-to-side and 1¼" down from the top.
    Click to Enlarge
  9. Following the manufacturer's instructions, press the letters in place. Make sure you press from both the front and the back before removing the letter's backing paper.
    NOTE: We found it was best to put all the letters in place on one side, then flip over all the pennants and do the opposite sides.
  10. Find the 7½" lengths of binding.
    NOTE: We pinked the cut ends of the binding so they wouldn't fray.
  11. Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the binding.
  12. Fold in each end ½" and top stitch in place.
    Click to Enlarge
  13. Fold the binding strips back into their original shape. The lines of topstitching should match up on each end. Press.
  14. Slip one sewn pennant into one sewn binding strip. The top of the pennant should extend up into the binding about ½".
  15. Pin in place. Stitch across, keeping your seam close to the folded edge while making sure you are catching both the front and the back in this one seam. Repeat to bind the top of each pennant.
    Click to Enlarge
  16. Cut the cording into your desired length.
  17. Put your pennants in order so they spell out your word-of-the-day.
  18. Attach a safety pin to one end of the cording and thread it through the binding of each pennant.
    Click to Enlarge
  19. Place a clothespin at the center of each pennant to hold it in place on the cording as shown above.

Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas  
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild

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