Free flower how-tos & tutorials

  Here I am sharing my knowledge and experience in silk flower making as well as some handy patterns. If you have any questions, comments or requests please feel free to comment below.


List of articles:

  • How I cut petals and leaves out quickly
  • How I stiffen lace and velvet
  • Poppy pattern
  • How silk flowers are born
  • How I stiffen fabric with gelatine

How I cut petals and leaves out quickly


I would like to share with you some practical tips on how to quickly cut flower petals and leaves out of fabric. It can be quite tedious especially for roses which are made out of 100+ petals and you need several of those for your accessory.
So here is how I do it. 







To speed up the process we will need a stapler. First, cut out strips of fabric wide enough to accommodate a petal on the bias (at 45 degrees).









Then fold the strips into rectangles by pleating them as shown in the picture. For ease of use cut the long pleated strips into shorter ones, enough for 3 to 4 petals each.











You should end up with strips of fabric folded lengthwise, which are large enough for your petal or leaf placed diagonally.













Now staple the fabric pile together in several places around the petal as in the picture.












The next thing is to trace petals onto rectangles of fabric which have just been stapled. 


Do remember to place the templates on the bias.













Now cut out the petals following the pencil lines. if you plan to colour your petals afterwards,  I would recommend to leave a staple on the side to hold them together like I have. 
This will allow you to colour them more efficiently. What's more is that you can shape them in piles as well using your flower iron.










Following these easy steps you will cut the time you spend on cutting out and colouring petals and leaves at least by half.
I hope you find my tips useful. Please feel free to share your own observations or ask your questions in the comments below.

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How I stiffen lace and velvet

Previously (see below) I have shared a mini-tutorial on how to stiffen silks for flower making with the gelatine solution. 
When creating flowers I love experimenting with different fabrics. I often use laces and velvets for making leaves to enhance my fantasy flowers. Whilst it is possible to obtain industrially treated velvet ready for making flowers, I have never seen any ready to use lace fabric. So what to do if you have that nice piece of vintage lace or gorgeously coloured square of velvet you would like to incorporate into your design? Use gelatine? I can tell you from my experience these attempts were not very successful as the gelatine tends to form a film on the structure of the lace and makes the velvet pile all stuck together.  So how to prepare these delicate fabrics for using in flower making?




What I discovered is that I can use the starch spray for this job. Not only does it give a better result but it is also easier and quicker to use.
I use the spray starch which is normally used for shirts.








For the lace just follow the instructions on the can, that is spray the piece of lace with the spray starch and iron it. In minutes your lace is stiffened and ready to use. 






As for the velvet I pin it to some vertical surface (an ironing board in my case), and spray the wrong side of the velvet fabric with the starch spray. After that I leave it to dry naturally. You can try and iron it but I have noticed that it makes it too stiff and affects the pile, especially of silk and viscose velvets. After the velvet has dried it is ready to use.

The spray starch might give less body to the fabrics than the gelatine but as I back all my leaves with a layer of stiffened silk, it compensates for that.  


If you would like to know more about shaping fabric leaves, including those made of velvet and lace, I am happy to offer my new .pdf tutorial on this subject. The tutorial is currently available from my Etsy shop
Packed with tips and hints this 20 page  ebook  will teach you how to create impressive leaves for you projects every time. I have included the patterns too.

You can use an array of different fabrics, such as silks, cottons, linen, velvet, lace to make just the right leaves you require.  If you are not sure you have the right tools for the job please feel free to contact me before buying the tutorial.

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Poppy pattern

Poppy seems to be a favourite flower of many. There are several ways of making poppies. For those who want to try and make one themselves here is one of the patterns I have in my library. If you are not that adventurous you can always purchase one from my Etsy shop. Alternatively I am planning on making a photo-tutorial on how to make poppies and sell it on Etsy. Please let me know if you are interested in it.



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How silk flowers are born


I thought that some of you would be interested in taking a peek at how silk flowers are created. That is why I tried to take pictures at all major steps of the process. It so happened that lotus flower became the guinea pig for the shooting. Lotus flower is quite a rare flower especially in Western culture but it is a sacred flower in India, respected in Japan and China. And it is not an easy flower to make from silk!  Well, you can see for yourselves:

  1. We outline all the details (petals, leaves, calyx lobes etc) on a    piece of stiffened silk fabric (in this case I am using satin). It is    very important to place all the elements at 45' angle.







  2. We colour the petals (as in hte picture) and leaves using silk colours    and ordinary paper.











  3. Once all the elements are coloured we leave them to dry on a dry sheet  of  paper. After they have dried they might need some ironing to make  them flat and straight as elements cut out of satin especially tend to roll as  they are drying. Just remember to switch off the steam on your iron as it  will ruin the stiffeness of the fabric and you will have to start again.

  4. Here are all our petals and calyx lobes nicely cut out + 132  handmade pairs of little stamens all ready for the next stage.






  5. We glue pieces of thin wire wrapped in crepe paper to each  petal and to the calyx lobes

 6. Then we glue the petals along the cut in the middle so they have a boat-like shape (in the picture they are desperately trying to roll though)
  7. We apply a thin layer of PVA glue onto our leaf to then glue it  to a piece of hand painted pongee (a very fine type of silk fabric)
  8. Here is all our green elements doubled with pongee
  9. And now the greenery has been dried, cut out and waiting to  be shaped
  10. But firstly we shape all our petals using 3 different tips
  11. In this picture I am using a big boule
  12. Then we move on to the leaf and shape the central veins
  13. After that we draw smaller veins that will make the leaf look a bit more  like a real one
  14. Now this is a difficult step when we need to make a cone out  of cotton wool and then cover it with our silk elements. This will  form our seed box
  15. Here is our flower with 4 petals attached to the seed box and  stamens
  16. That's how the flower looks with 12 petals on
  17. The flower has all the 16 petals and calyx lobes attached
  18. After that we need to cover our stalk with pongee
  19. Then we wrap the stalk in a piece of hand painted satin silk

  20. Et voila! Our flower






 


          ... and the leaf are ready! ☺








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How I stiffen fabric with gelatine

Here is a short photo-instruction on how to stiffen fabrics with the gelatine solution. You can stiffen any types of fabrics, but those that are made from natural fibers (silk, linen, wool, cotton) will work best.
 1. I use Dr. Oetker gelatine (see picure) which comes in granules (not leaves) which are prepacked in  sachets.









2.  For 200 ml of cold water I take 2 leveled teaspoonfuls of granulated gelatine and place it in a Pyrex glass bowl. Generally the concentration depends on the thickness of the fabrics used  - the thinner the fabric the less gelatine is needed. This concentration will do for satins, crepes, habotai and other similar medium-weight fabrics. For organza and chiffon you might want to use a bit less gelatine.





3. Then I stir the gelatine well together with the water and leave it to soak for about an hour.












4. To heat the soaked gelatine we will need bain Marie (steam bath). So I place my Pyrex bowl over a pan of boiling water (over a low heat) and constantly stirring wait until all the granules dissolve.










5. I continue heating the solution after it has become transparent until it is very hot but NOT YET boiling. It is important no to let the solution boil.












6. I carefully take my very hot solution (use a towel or oven gloves) to the bathroom where I have already attached a string over a bath tub and put a layer of newspapers beneath it.










7. Then I take pieces of silk (about A2-A3 size) and one by one immerse (carefully! because the solution is very hot especially at the beginning) hem into the bowl with the geatine, take out, run my fingers through the fabric to squeeze the excess of the gelatine back into the bowl and put the piece of fabric onto a coat hanger all nice and straight. The fabric coated in gelatine is sticky and might hold on the coat hanger by itself (like in the picture). If that does not happen, pin the fabric with pins in several places near the coat hanger.
If you stiffen factory precoloured fabrics like I did here you might want to start with lighter colours first, because dye will run a bit and if you start with a black piece of fabric it sill be impossible to use the gelatine solution on white or light pieces.





8. In the same manner I do the rest of my pieces of fabric until I have used up all my solution and line them all up on the string to dry. The amount of the solution used will depend of the thickness and size of your pieces of fabric. The fabric will dribble, that is why it is better to cover the surface with newspapers.
When the fabric has completely dried out depending on how creased it looks I sometimes iron it WITHOUT STEAM on medium heat.

TA-DA!!!

The fabric is ready to use for silk flower making!

 ☺ ☺ ☺

P.S. Please let me know in the comments below if you still have any questions regarding stiffening fabric with the gelatine solution.



8 comments:

  1. Will you be able to hand dye the fabric once it's stiffened?

    ReplyDelete
  2. You definitely will be. Most of my creations start their life as a piece of white silk. Usually I paint petals and leaves one by one having cut them from the stiffened fabric.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Is the stiffening process also a solution to fraying fabric? I wonder if I go through the process of making a silk flower/s that the end result will fray at the bare edges?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Louise,

    The stiffening does in fact stop the fabric from fraying. Besides, without having stiffened your fabric you can not shape it with millinery tools as it won't keep the shape. But sometimes a bit of fraying is totally acceptable especially if the edges of petals are rolled by fingers like for this rose https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/121439406/wedding-hat-with-birdcage-veil-white-hat?

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm trying to stiffen silk velvet. Have you used your method for that? If so, how well does it work? Do you have any recommendations? Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I tried to stiffen fabrics in this method, but fabric turned out with so many wrinkles...
    Meybe the problem is I dried it too close to room heating elements?
    Any coments would be useful. Fabric is polyester, not too thin, not too thick.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Maija, thanks for your comment. This method is only used if you plan to shape the treated fabric with millinery tools. Polyester fabrics are not good for this because they melt under the hot tools, so there is no point stiffening them. If you want tot make flowers from polyester fabric the method described in this tutorial here https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/165676932/fabric-flower-tutorial-poppy-tutorial? works very well. Please feel free to check it out.

      Delete
  7. Thank you, I found another method for stiffening fabrics, so gelatine and wrinkles aren' t my problem anymore. I'm still learning and have ordered my millinery tools. So your blog is very helpful for me, thanks again

    ReplyDelete