Bistro Awning MINI-Tutorial

by Dana on July 6, 2008

Many of you have emailed asking about the Bistro Awning from Lucy’s room makeover:
I wish a lengthy one to share. But honestly, I was making it up as we went and wasn’t really sure it would work out. Thankfully it did! So instead of a full-blown step-by-step, we’ll call it:

The Bistro Awning MINI-Tutorial

This is the finished awning:

and here’s the skeleton underneath:
I couldn’t find any real tutorials online for making a small awning so I looked around at store/shop awnings in our town to get a feel for the concept. Basically, there’s a flat piece in the back with bars that slant down and fabric over the top.

We wanted it to be lightweight so it would hang easily on the wall….but not too light, or the wood might break. I just needed a simple frame to hang the fabric over. It couldn’t be that hard. And really it wasn’t!

We went to Home Depot and looked around. In the window molding aisle they have a nice selection of dowels in many sizes.
We used:
* 3 long rectangular dowels for the slant
* 1 rectangle dowel for the back
* 1 flat piece of wood for the back for added hanging support
* 1 skinny round dowel for the front
* 3 metal angled-brackets (not sure if that’s the real name)
We started by drilling holes through the 3 rectangular dowels, threading the round dowel through, and gluing it in place on the ends.
Then we attached the three rectangles to the back rectangle with angled brackets. This step required a bit of tinkering. Normally these brackets come at a 90 degree angle. But the metal is easy to bend, so we bent each bracket slightly till we found an angle we liked and made sure that all three brackets were bent to the same degree (roughly; we didn’t measure).
Here’s another angle:
Then lastly, we screwed the frame right onto the wall (those little black dots below are screws)
and I threw a cover on top!

The cover is made up of three pieces: the top (which slants down and hangs over the front) and two side pieces. I first laid my fabric over the top and measured how wide it needed to be and how far down I wanted it to go (make sure you add extra for seam allowances). The petals that hang down are part of this top fabric. The fold you see is not a seam. It’s all one long piece of fabric that drapes over the front and hangs over. I pressed it when I was done to create that line where it lays over the dowel.
To make the petals, I traced the edge of the fabric using a bowl or cup so that they all had the same arc. Then I cut a matching amount of white fabric to go underneath (I used white because it was cheaper and had I used stripes, they would have shown through creating a nightmare for matching it all up. So, just use white cotton). This step was necessary to make the curved edges of the petals look polished when sewn.
Here’s another underneath shot.
With right sides of the fabric together, I sewed the matching Top pieces together, turned them right-side out and ironed it out.
Now this was the trickiest part of the whole thing….figuring out the side pieces. It wasn’t “hard” but I was crossing my fingers the whole time; hoping that I measured correctly.
Since we weren’t exact with our angles and I really didn’t feel like doing complicated math, I just laid my fabric over the top again with the stripes hanging vertically. Then (accounting for seam allowances all around) I took a pen and traced right down the slant of triangle below and on the edges as well. It wasn’t exact but it worked out pretty well.
I cut out matching white pieces to go underneath, sewed them similar to the Top piece, and then sewed the side pieces to the top. And….I hung it on! I used double-sided tape in a few spots to hold it in place on the skeleton but that was it. The cover is made to fit and really just hangs by itself over the wooden frame.

* For added charm, you might attach some very small lights underneath, near the wooden frame to make it feel even more like a marketplace shop. But, we’ll save that for another time.

And there you go! Sorry no measurements or dimensions. But hopefully you’re armed to tackle the project yourself. It really adds a sunshine personality to the room.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Amber March 26, 2012 at 1:47 pm

I’m curious about the bins you’re using. What is it and where did you find it? Thank you so much!

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2 Dana March 26, 2012 at 11:26 pm

I found it at a thrift store. I think it’s from Brookstone though.
Sorry I don’t have better info!

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3 Connie July 9, 2012 at 3:46 pm

This is adorable! I am thinking of doing it for my granddaughter’s playhouse. How much striped fabric did you use? What width?

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4 sara November 6, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Would you be interested in making me one if I gave you the measurements I need? How much would you charge?

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5 Tad January 12, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Hey Dana-thanks for the step by step instructions. Easy to make and perfect for what my wife wanted. She is very happy with her new awning. Just about $10 for the wood materials. Tad

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6 Jackie January 31, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Such a charming look and great directions. Would be cute in a kitchen too. Nice job!

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7 Pat July 4, 2013 at 7:44 pm

I think it’s phenomenal! My future mini roomboxes will need these. You are awesome!

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8 Ellie September 8, 2014 at 5:47 pm

Hi!
I love this! I was looking all over the internet to find one that is pre-made and couldn’t find anything that comes even close to this! I’m a terrible sew-er, so I know I couldn’t make the top, even if I wanted to.
Do you sell these?

Thanks!

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9 Dana September 8, 2014 at 6:59 pm

Sorry I don’t sell actual items…I just share ideas!
But maybe you could look on etsy.com for either a pre-made awning….or for a sewer who will make one for you?
I have no idea how that works, but it might be an option

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