Chalk Birthday Bunting

Chalk Birthday Bunting

May 5, 2015 By OLFA Creates

Created by Kelly McCants of Modern June, this Chalk Birthday Bunting is our spotlight for the month of May. Kelly told us that “This project uses the three tools that I just can’t live without in my sewing studio; a comfy, retractable rotary cutter, a self-healing cutting mat, and 6” x 24” ruler. I lovingly call these items the triple threat of tools! Cutting oilcloth and chalkcloth down to the desired size is easy when you follow these steps using your OLFA triple threat tool kit.”


  • Pattern makes 21 interchangeable and reversible bunting flags that are 6″ x 8″.
  • Finished banner length for the 7 piece bunting is 78” and 10 piece bunting is 96”.
  • Ties are 18” each.
  • Sewing with oilcloth is made easy with the included tips below from Modern June!


Confident Beginner


6 “ x 24” Frosted Advantage Acrylic Ruler (QR-6×24)
12” x 18” (or larger) Self-Healing Rotary Mat (RM-CG)
45mm Deluxe Rotary Cutter (RTY-2/DX)


  • 1/2 yard of Chalkcloth
  • 1 1/2 yards of Oilcloth
  • Basic sewing supplies
  • Box of paper clips and/or Clothespins
  • 5 yards of ribbon
  • Double sided tape
  • Chopstick or thin paint brush
  • Chalk or chalk pen



  1. Start by cutting the yardage down to smaller sizes that are easier to handle and maneuver on the cutting mat. Use a rotary cutter, ruler and mat to cut your 1 1/2 yard piece of oilcloth down to 3 pieces of fabric that are roughly 17” x 47”. This creates a bit of waste, but it’s a lot less fussy and the project will be better for it.
  2. Fold the fabric in half widthwise to cut down cutting time; it’s just as easy to cut two corners as it is to cut one. Use a few clothespins along the fold to keep the folded fabric from shifting around while lining up your ruler. Straight pins and traditional pinning methods can leave permanent pin holes when working with oilcloth and chalkcloth. Use pattern weights, clothes pins, binder clips and paper clips when possible.
  3. Lay your fabric down on the mat so the fold is away from you and use the grid markings on the mat in coordination with your ruler to create a true line and 90 degree corner. Start by lining up the 16” raw edge of the fabric along the 1” horizontal line on your mat. Then place the ruler perpendicular to the 1” line. Make sure that your folded fabric doesn’t shift. Holding the ruler firmly in place, cut a straight line cutting off about a quarter of an inch, or whatever it takes to get the fabric even and true. 


  4. Now, flip the fabric upside down so that trued side of your fabric is lined with the 0 inch line that is on the left side of your cutting mat and the 1” line that runs horizontally.  Lay your ruler perpendicular to the 1” line and the edge of your fabric at the 16” mark. Cut off all the excess oilcloth, so the fabric is 16” wide. Repeat this with the remaining two rough cut pieces of oilcloth. You will end up with 3 sheets of oilcloth that are 16” long x 47” wide.
  5. Now it’s time to cut the 3 sheets down into 6” x 16” strips. Start by laying one sheet of oilcloth on the cutting mat so that the fold is to your right. Line the 6” wide ruler up to the raw edge on the left of the oilcloth. Cut along the right hand side of the ruler to create 2 – 6” x 16” strips. Repeat this step twice more and then unfold the last bit of oilcloth and cut one more 6” banner piece. Cut the remaining two sheets of fabric in the same manner. You will end up with 21 oilcloth banner pieces.
  6. Since oilcloth is a PVC material it cannot be ironed, instead use a stack of books to press a crease into your flags. Fold all 21 bunting pieces in half lengthwise, making sure to match up the corners at the bottom as best you can. Make stacks of folded flags and secure with clothespins at the bottom. Now place a pile of heavy books on top of the fold to create a nice crease along the top of the reversible bunting flags.  


  7. Follow the instructions in Step 3 again, and true up one side of your chalkcloth, and use your ruler to cut the 1/2 yard of chalkcloth into 3 stripes that are 5” each.
  8. Cut the strips down to 5” x 6 1/2” rectangles. Chalkcloth can be slippery when folded, so it’s best to cut these rectangles one at a time. 


  9. To create the notch in the bunting flags, fold each of the chalkcloth pieces in half widthwise and use two paper clips to hold it secure. Use the 30 degree angle marking on the cutting mat to cut into the middle of the banner piece. Place the raw edges of the chalkcloth into the bottom right corner of the cutting mat and place the ruler on the dotted 30 degree line and rotary cut. Cut individually for best results. 


  10. Gather up the oilcloth bunting flags and fold each one in half widthwise and cut 30 degree notches in them as well.


  1. Now it’s time to place the chalkcloth pieces onto oilcloth bunting flags. Use the narrow end of the ruler to center up the chalkcloth onto the oilcloth, by overlapping the 1/2” of your oilcloth flag with the ruler. Apply two pieces of double stick tape on to the wrong side of the chalkcloth flag and stick it to the center of the oilcloth. There should be a 1/2” border of oilcloth surrounding the chalkcloth piece.


  2. Place an open-toed embroidery foot onto your machine. (This pressure foot usually comes with sewing machines.) Open up the oilcloth flag, so you are only stitching through the top layer of the finished bunting flag and line up the chalkcloth with the inner edge of your pressure foot. 

      Doing so helps to achieve nice 1/8” seam allowance, this is also called an edge stitch. Stitch around all 5 sides of the chalkcloth. Stitch up all 21 flags before moving on to the next step.
  3. Refold your oilcloth/chalkcloth bunting flags so their corners match at the bottom. Use a quilters pin to pin the two sides together, making sure to pin 1/8” away from the edge. The holes from the pin will be covered up by the stitch line and won’t be noticeable. 


  4. Sewing on oilcloth can be a sticky situation and your machine might have to work hard to pull the fabric through. To help with this, use a longer stitch length. A stitch length of 4 is usually best. Use scraps of oilcloth to practice with before delving in with your project. If the sewing machine is still having a hard time moving the oilcloth through, try covering the bottom of the pressure foot with painters tape. Be sure to carefully cut away any extra tape with an OLFA Art Knife.
  5. To finish the individual flags you need to edge stitch 4 sides of the flag and create a 1/2“ casing along the top. Start from the top and work your way down to the bottom right hand corner, once you are an 1/8” away from the bottom, place the sewing machine needle down into the oilcloth and pivot the flag on the needle to continue up into the inverted V of the notch. Repeat this needle in/pivot maneuver until you are 1/2” from the fold and 4 out of the 5 sides of the flag are enclosed. At this point, sew right above the top edge of the chalkcloth to create a ribbon casing. 
  6. Tape the end of your ribbon onto a chopstick and thread the ribbon through the casings. For the word “Happy” you’ll want to string 7 flags on to a 78” length of ribbon and string 10 flags onto 98” of ribbon for the “Birthday” part of the bunting. Tie a little knot at each end of the strings and add a touch of seam sealant to keep the ribbon from fraying. Free free to use the extras to fill in the string if desired.


  • Use chalk or chalk markers to freehand the message of your choice onto the finished bunting. Regular chalk will erase easily so you can change your message over and over again! Chalk marker is harder to remove; a little elbow grease and a fresh curing might be necessary.
  • Some people like to cure their chalkcloth before they write on it, so that they get the slate appearance of a real chalkboard. To get this look simply lay a piece of chalk on its side directly onto the chalk cloth surface, and then rub all over, side to side to cover the cloth. Once the chalk cloth is covered in chalk you then wipe it clean. I like to use a barely damp cloth to do the clean up. Now, do this one more time, rubbing your chalk up and down, this time perpendicular to the direction you just chalked. Now wipe it clean one last time and the chalkcloth is ready for use.
  • If you choose to leave it black and uncured (see sample banner),  you might end up with ghost lines, a faint outline of what you write after you erase it. Curing your chalkcloth will remedy this ghost line or previous writing or art on the cloth surface.


Project design by Kelly McCants.
May, 2015
For personal, non-commercial use only.

Chalk Birthday Bunting

May 5, 2015 By OLFA Creates