I Switched to Reusable Decorations for Celebrations and Am Never Turning Back

published Aug 4, 2021
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Credit: Cathy Gilbert

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Growing up, we kept boxes filled with sets of door wreaths, window decorations, streamers, and ornaments for every holiday. As an adult in my first home, I hadn’t yet built up a large holiday collection like the one of my childhood, and I didn’t have room in my small home to store it anyway. I was trying to live more simply, and wondered how great it would be if there was a multipurpose decoration that I could use for celebrations of all kinds. Enter: fabric pennant bunting. It’s pretty simple to make, colorful, and completely reusable. 

Now, you may hear “pennant bunting” and imagine a used cars sales lot, but I assure you this fabric bunting is a much more elevated version. In fact, I first used it to decorate for my own backyard wedding. 

Credit: Cathy Gilbert

I come from a long line of home sewists, and while I am no expert myself, I have inherited a large stash of fabrics. Hidden in between pennants made from cool fabrics I found at the thrift store are materials from sewing projects of the past: the white cloth from my mother’s wedding dress (made by her mother), soft cloth from a bathrobe my grandmother once made me, flower patterns from outfits my mother sewed for me, and bolder prints from the 70s and 80s when my mother made her own dresses. 

I decided something so meaningful couldn’t just be used ONCE. And so, after my wedding, I stored it in a little box, and found myself taking it out to decorate the house for all kinds of celebrations: birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, or really any time we were celebrating something special.

Credit: Cathy Gilbert

Here’s how to make your own.

One of the best things about a project like this is that it is so versatile. You don’t need any sewing expertise or even a sewing machine. You could use materials you already have, or go buy something new. You can make your bunting very artistic and create patterns, or you can embrace some beautiful chaos and use any colors and scraps you have at hand. 

General tips: 

  • I cut out simple triangle and rectangle shapes from old paper bags to use as patterns so I would have consistent shapes for each piece of the bunting.  
  • I made each piece double-sided for durability and so the bunting would look finished from all sides, but that’s not necessary. Single-sided works too! 
  • I didn’t bother with a finished hem on my fabric pieces, but you can if you want. A finished hem provides a cleaner look, but I was happy with a more rustic look that will fray a bit over time. 
  • If sewing isn’t your thing, or maybe you just don’t have a bunch of fabric lying around, you can make the bunting from colorful paper! Colorful scrapbook paper in all kinds of prints would work well here. 
  • I attached the fabric pieces to a thin ribbon, but you could use string — especially if you’re using paper instead of fabric.
  • No matter your materials (fabric or paper), you don’t need a sewing machine!  You could hand-stitch your fabric to the ribbon or you could use a no-sew glue.  (Hot glue works for fabric, too!)
  • Depending on your child’s age and ability and which materials you decide to use, this could be a fun project for kids. Paper, string, and glue versions (or even fabric and glue) would work well for younger kids. Sewing projects would be best for older kids. 

Ready for a tutorial? Here are a few I’d recommend for step-by-step advice:

For the sewing enthusiasts

No-sew versions

Not a DIY-er? No problem! 

You don’t have to make these yourself in order to enjoy the ease of reusable decorations. There are plenty of options to buy different kinds of bunting that fits your own style and the reasons to celebrate in your life!

Pennant bunting  

Tassel garlands 

Ball garlands