Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Craft-Along: Flower tutorial 1

A rose is a rose (might be a carnation) is a rose. And that's what I'm going to show you how to make today - a carnation-esque rose.

Cute, right!? And pretty easy so let's get started!

Fabric or ribbon
Lighter or fray-stopping liquid
Hot glue gun*
Sewing machine*

*The starred items are totally optional. I'll show you options for using your glue gun and sewing machine.

Start with your laundered fabric.  Even though you won't ever wash your wreath and won't have to worry about the fabric shrinking as a result, it is just a good idea to get in the habit of washing your fabrics before you start. (Obviously there are some exceptions. Double-face satin ribbon, for example, will get water spots if you wash it.)

I found a skirt at Plato's Closet last year and snatched it up for garter-making. The fabric is a 100% polyester navy blue gingham with a slight sheen. Here's what was left of it:

If you look in the upper left corner you get a sneak peek at an NPJ garter. Lucky you.

To get the most fabric out of the skirt, I took it apart at the seams using a seam ripper.  Cutting it is also an option, you just might find you lose some of the fabric that way.

Step 1:
Once I had my fabric pieces I ironed them and cut out two strips - One 2" x 19" and the other 1.5" x 21".

Here is where I put the lighter to use, actually I used a candle.  I mentioned above the fabric was a polyester, which is a woven fabric. Woven fabric tends to fray when cut. Luckily, it also melts instead of catching on fire. Once I cut my strips I waved the ends over an open flame to melt the fibers together.

Very important disclaimer!

1. Keep water handy just in case. You never know when a random piece of lint will cling to your fabric just waiting to catch on fire.

2. Heat seal in a ventilated room. Some fabrics may release stinky (toxic?) fumes as they melt. As an extension to that, do not work with your face close to the flame and fabric.

Cool? Cool.

If you aren't keen on heat sealing or if you are working with a woven that burns instead of melting, such as silk or cotton, use your no-fray liquid instead.  Most come in a bottle with a narrow nozzle. Gently squeeze the bottle while running the nozzle tip along the fabric's edge. Let dry.

Step 2:
Now your fabric is ready to be ruffled. I recommend using a thread either matches your fabric. If you can't find an exact match stay in the same color family and go one or two shades lighter. In the steps that follow I use red thread for visibility.

Start with your 2" x 19" fabric strip.

I'm going to assume you know how to thread a needle, but if you need some pointers, Ashley is fabulous at explaining things here. Now, we do a running stitch. Push the needle into the fabric, grab it, and pull it (and the thread) through the other side. Now push the needle through side two of the fabric, grab it, and pull it through side 1. Repeat. Several times.

via Let's Stitch

You should end up with a row stitches something like this:

As you work down the length of your fabric, gently pull the thread so that the fabric gathers.

As you stitch and pull, the fabric strip will spiral in on itself. Here's what it'll look like from the back:

Once you've gathered the entire strip you need to flip the fabric over and push the needle through the back/bottom a few times to keep your flower together.

I also fold down the two corners  and sew them into the flower's center.

To tie off your thread, push the needle through the center of the flower a few times, making a few front-to-back stitches.  You need to end with your needle on the back side. (1) Poke the needle through the back and pull so that the thread makes a loop. (2) Move the needle through the thread loop to make a second loop. These loops should be interlocked like links in a chain. (3) Move the needle through the second loop, making a third loop, and pull the thread tight.  All the loops should pull together into a teeny tiny knot nestled right against your fabric.

Clip your thread and admire the outer petals of your rose.

Alternate Step 2:

It is also super easy to ruffle fabric using your sewing machine.  There are actually three ways to ruffle using your normal machine foot.  I don't have a ruffling foot, but if you do, go to town!  Today, I'm going to show you the most traditional ruffling method.

Set your machine to straight stitch. You will want your tension set at a very low level (I used 1), and your stitch length at the longest setting (for me, that's 4). My stitch width, the distance between my seam and the edge of my fabric is set at 1 because I want to be pretty close to the edge.

Run a straight stitch the length of your fabric without back stitching. This is actually the same as a basting stitch. Separate the top thread from the bottom thread at one end of your fabric strip.  Pinch the end of the fabric with one hand and gently pull the BOTTOM thread with your other hand.  As you pull, the fabric will gather against the finger pinching the fabric.

I usually gather about half the fabric and tie off my thread with a square knot.  Then I repeat the process on the other end. This helps me keep my gathers even, and makes it less likely my thread will break.

As you gather, the fabric will coil just as it did with the running stitch above.  Also, you'll need to hand stitch the base of the flower so it will keep its shape.

Step 3:

Repeat either method of Step 2 with your the more narrow strip of fabric.

I like to ruffle this second piece more ruffled because it is the flower's center. If you are hand-stitching your ruffle volume can be adjusted by making your stitches larger or smaller.  Large, farther apart stitches will result in less ruffling.  Small, close stitches will allow more ruffles. If you use the machine method you adjust your ruffles as you pull the thread.  If you bunch a lot of fabric onto a shorter length of thread you'll have a dense cluster of ruffles.  Reverse that - more thread, less fabric, and you'll have less ruffles.

Step 4:
Now you'll want to put the smaller "flower" into the center of the larger "flower." You can absolutely sew them together. Thread your needle, put the small piece inside the large piece, and stitch through the centers. The end.


You can hot glue them together. I suppose you could also use fabric glue, but I used hot glue. Heat up your gun. Then put a nice big glob of glue in the center of the larger flower.

Now, smush the bottom/back of your small flower into that glue.

And, voila!

Here's the back.

Ta da!

You could totally make a wreath out of just these babies.  It'd look good using just one fabric, but I think I'd vary the fabrics and the flower sizes.  For the record, this one is 3" x 3". If you were to go the mono-botanical  direction, you'd need about 22 blossoms. Otherwise, make four or five.

Pretty easy, right?  To be honest, it took me about seven minutes to make the flower and four hours to write the tutorial.  I'm exhausted! I know I said two tutorials today, but...Yeah, you guys are just going to have to wait for tomorrow.

While you wait, go make some flowers and send me photos!  You can e-mail me  or share them on my facebook wall. I promise, I will never ever share your e-mail address. Ever.

Miss other steps in the craft-along? Click here to catch up.

I can't wait to see what you guys do!!!

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