in bloom year round

by Valerie on November 22, 2013

in crafting,tutorials

Fabric flowers are so great – they are fun to make, easy to wear, and add color and interest to your outfit. I’ve used them on several handbags from my main collections, including the zaria envelope clutch, the oasis wristlet, and the idyllic envelope clutch:

fabric flower embellishments on the idyllic envelope clutch

They are also, of course, awesome to wear on your person – on a lapel or in your hair, as I noted in my 7 experiments to try post from a while back.

I’ve been meaning to write a tutorial on how to make fabric flowers forever, but never got around to it because there are only a million ways to make fabric flowers.

But, I have found my focus, and this tutorial is going to focus on only ONE technique: turning a ruffle into a flower. To illustrate the several different looks you can get with this one technique, I’m going to make flower embellishments for three items from my 2 Yards 10 Gifts e-book: the obi belt, the envelope clutch, and the bedroom slippers.

raw materials for making fabric flowers

step one: choose your materials
Literally any type of fabric will work for this. In fact, the more varied your materials the more awesome your final product will look, especially if you’re going to group a bunch of flowers together.

I chose a cotton print, cotton jersey, linen, wool, and of course (my favorite), double faced satin ribbon. Nothing beats fancy ribbon for pretty shine and saturated color!

I cut strips 20″ long, but this is not something that requires precise measurements. Don’t fret, there’s no wrong way to do this!

strips of fabric

step two: finish the edge
How do you want the edges of your flower petals to look? Some fabrics look awesome with a raw edge, both those that don’t unravel (felt, leather, jersey), and those that fray very prettily (linen, silk).

What about finishing off the edge with a narrow hem, or with bias tape, or a serger stitch? You can also fold the fabric to get a soft edge, or press the fold to get a sharp, creased edge. There are so many options!

trim the edge to create a shaped petal

With raw edges, you can also cut shapes into them, if you want more traditional looking “petals.” I cut my red wool into rounded petals, and my green cotton jersey into pointed ones. To do this, just fold the strip of fabric accordion-style, and then trim off one raw edge however you like.

ruffles to be shaped into flowers

step three: make the ruffles
The best way to make a ruffle is to run a long basting stitch down one edge of the fabric, and tug gently on one bobbin thread until your fabric gathers the way you like.

Your basting stitch can be right up against the edge, right down the middle (for a tuxedo style ruffle, like the black linen above), or somewhere in between, depending on the effect you like.

cotton jersey flower
cotton jersey flower with folded edge and a fabric knot center

step four: twist & stitch
All that’s left to do is twist your ruffle into a concentric circle, and stitch it together by hand, so that it stays in a flower shape. That’s it!

You may want to use a few pins to hold your flower together while you sew it. You may want to cut a small circle of some sturdy fabric to use as a base for your flower (felt is great for this), but these are both optional.

fabric flowers on an obi belt

Sometimes the flowers won’t need anything in the center; sometimes you might want to add a little something, like a button or a bead (or several…or both!).

Sometimes I’ll use a smaller flower as the center of a larger one. Or sometimes I’ll use a small bit of ribbon or other trim and tie it into a knot to form the center.

cotton and satin fabric flower

The last step is to figure out how to attach your flower! If you want to wear it lots of different ways, sew a pin backing on to the back. If you’d like to wear them in your hair, sew on a hair clip, bobby pin, or hair comb. Or, just sew the fabric directly onto the item!

gigantic red wool flower for bedroom slippers

As always, I’d love to see pictures of your flowers, and how you plan to wear them!

 

 

 

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so, what do you think? leave a comment & let me know.

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