200 Fabric Triangles, 89 Golden Sparkly Numbers and lots and lots of Sewing!


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Ok it’s the big one… it’s the project that seems to have taken over my life for the past few weeks. It’s the one that people looked at me like I was slightly deranged or slightly simple when I explained my thinking to them. Some people laughed, some people tried to gently point out the possible pitfalls of my idea, some said it couldn’t be done in such a short space of time – but once I have an idea in my head, it is hard to shift it sometimes.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. I was organising my parent’s 50th Golden Wedding Anniversary party and I saw an idea on Pinterest where someone had thought up facts about the couple who’s anniversary it was and pinned up 50 facts on a sort of washing line – 1 fact for each year they had been together.  This seemed like a nice idea but I thought I could make it oh so much more personal and fun if I used free machine embroidery and embroidered my own bunting to depict these 50 facts.

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Good idea right?

Well yes, but also quite an undertaking I must admit, and it grew from a small seed of an idea to a gigantic swaying tree of an idea. I decided to double-side the bunting so I could print out the facts on paper and sew the paper to the backs of the triangles to explain what each picture was. This was a time saving modification as I originally wanted to embroider on all the words on the back – ho ho ho… that would have just been silly right? So I decided to cheat a little bit and type them out on the computer in a sort of triangular pattern and print them  – easier to read that way too hey? We then sewed the pieces of paper to a blank triangle that backed the embroidered picture.

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So 50 triangles of bunting became 100, then I decided it would be nice to put the actual number in sparkly gold in-between each picture, on some nicely patterned gold themed fabric, so 100 triangles became 200!

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Enlist re-enforcements / child labour!

Luckily for me, I found some lovely iron on sparkly numbers on ebay and my even lovelier daughter offered to iron them all on for me, she was a superstar, I only had one month to make all the bunting ready for the party and Eloise helped me SO much. It was the summer holidays so she was available for ironing on numbers, and cutting out triangles and  sewing on the paper backs and sewing together the triangles for me. I offered to show her how to do some machine embroidery too, and she did the birthday cake one for my dad’s birthday being on the 7th November, for number 7, but she declined to do any more, bless her. Not too sure if she is bitten by the free machining bug yet!

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It certainly kept us out of mischief for a few weeks and it was really good fun to work on this project together, listening to Spotify and drinking tea and sewing merrily away. (Yes she is in her pyjamas in that 3rd shot but it’s in the morning after a pj’s brekkie, not because I made her sew through the night – no really!)

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By the time I got to 49 guests at the wedding I was less keen to embroider the faces on, and instead asked Eloise to improvise with some fabric pens whilst looking at the lovely 1960’s hairstyles and beards on the original wedding photos!

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Eloise’s organised piles of bunting triangles – I have no idea what her system was but it was very organised and it worked for her!

Here are some examples of what we made:

A tiny calendar showing the month of September for number 9 (the month they got married)

A bunch of balloons for number 10 for 10th October being mum’s birthday

2 golden rings to represent the 2 wedding rings they have lost over the years – dad lost his on his honeymoon apparently… imagine the trouble he must have been in then… am impressed that they still went on to have us and stay together for 50 years!

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My dad is keen on rowing and used to attend a local rowing club at work and goes to Henley Royal Regatta every year, so for number 5 we squeezed in a tenuous link to Henley as it runs for 5 days every year:

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Here is number 8 in progress, I had just cut out the applique pieces and bondaweb’ed them onto the bunting triangle ready for embroidering.

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These two photos show number 27 – which is the number of the second house that they lived in together, 27 Warren Road in Banstead, I looked it up on google earth to check what it looked like as I left there when I was about 6 so don’t really remember much about it, apart from the bogey green front door and garage that we had, and the crazy paving that mum and dad put in that appears to still be there!

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And number 30 was google mapped too, number 30 LadyCroft Walk in Stanmore, which was the first house they ever lived in together when they first got married back in 1965. I wonder if it has changed much? I had to email the link for this one to my brother’s as this house was a bit before my time, we had some dispute over which house it was, as google’s numbering system for house numbers is rubbish! But we think this is the one, from zooming in to numbers painted on wheelie bins… I hope I am right!

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The cut out and bondaweb’ed stage for the 30’s, including number of years the local vicar was at mum’s church in Surrey, how many years since chuckie egg and pac man were invented, (for cultural reference points of course!) length of a bowling green (mum and dad’s favourite hobby) and dad’s golf handicap.

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Tenuous link number 47… ok it’s a very significant fact, as dad proposed in the back of my mum’s Austin A40, so wanted to get that in there, but slightly tenuous link to the number 47 I admit!

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Ok you try thinking up relevant number related facts for every number from 1-50 for your parents – go on… I dare you… not as easy as it first seems, especially when you get past the 30’s and all dates are then pretty much out. Luckily I had some very helpful input from my brother’s and friends.

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Sewing an applique motorbike… tricky!

Do you want to see my favourite one of all 50…?

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It’s this one that I did for age of dad on their wedding day. I just love the way it turned out, I even cut out some tin cans out of a real aluminium drinks can, san pellagrino orange I think it was… and I made them into little tiny tin cans that actually do flap about and clatter after the car on tiny bits of string (cotton) Love it!

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busy busy busy…

Here is the final one – 50 anniversaries… Alleluia I think we have finished!

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Yes finally we were finished… the completed triangles stretched out for miles… well not miles perhaps, but took up most of the sitting room floor, and the sofa… Now I just had to sew on the gold bias binding across the top to attach them all together. Now, I have never actually done this before, let alone for 25 metres worth of bunting (100 triangles) so it would be fair to say I was a little daunted by the task.

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And as if it wasn’t a scary enough job as it was, I decided to do it using gold metalic thread too, which really kept things interesting I can tell you. Even with my special ‘no shredding’ metalic thread needle, it was a complete nightmare to use. It kept on tangling, it kept on going off the binding or off the triangles (ok that part was probably more my machine skills than the thread) but suffice to say, it was tricky indeed, and in fact it took three of us to do it!

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This is not the best photo to show this but this may be because we asked six year old Louis to take it as the entire rest of the family were hands full with the bunting! I was sewing, Will was holding the thread out so it didn’t tangle and buckle and Eloise was watching what came out from the needle to make sure I hadn’t fallen off! All essential jobs I can confirm!

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At the actual party we were staying in a lovely old Landmark Trust house for the weekend and we strung the bunting all the way down the bannister of the main stair case and blew up lots of helium filled golden balloons. The bunting was the PERFECT length to go the whole length of the staircase from the bedrooms up on the 3rd floor to the hallway down on the ground floor – it was as if I had been there already and measured it up especially – I was very very pleased indeed. I totally forgot to photograph it in situ – but here is a quick snap that Eloise took whilst running around the house snapping things with her cousins. You get the idea right?

If not, here is a quick video run through that my husband kindly took as we were packing up to go:

Bit shakey and not the best quality but hey, you get the idea I think? My parents seemed to appreciate the efforts we went to creating this for them, I hope they like it! I’m not sure what they are going to do with it now, it shall probably now sit in a drawer or a box in the loft for years and years to come, but if anyone has any suggestions, let us know? A nice decoration for the conservatory perhaps?

I don’t think I will be making bunting again now for quite some time, and when I do, perhaps I might stick to a more traditional 20-30 triangles? Is there a standard amount that you are meant to have? I think perhaps 100 for a first shot may have been a little bit ambitious. How hard can it be though eh? I would give it a difficulty rating of about 6/10 perhaps, but it was very time consuming (good job I got made redundant eh?) but also it was a lot of fun.

I couldn’t have done it on my own though – and so I must do a big shout out thank you to my helpers:

HUGE thanks to my daughter for all her help and to Will for his encouragement and thread holding, and to Pete, Phil and Maree Comber (and my in-laws and anyone else who would listen whilst I angsted about how and what to do…) for their help with inspiration for what to put on the bunting in the first place.

And to my in-laws for letting me take over their house one weekend when we were visiting, with sewing machines and bunting paraphernalia when I thought I was not gonna make my deadline.

Thank You one and all!

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