A Simple Fabric Flower

Fabric Flowers on JanMadeIt 1 A co-worker once said, “Jan always wears a flower on her shirt,” and I took it as a challenge.

Now while I don’t wear one every single day, I’ll have one pinned to my shirt almost every day. For one thing it will brighten up a plain cotton t-shirt, and they also make me smile. As a result I have piles of fabric flowers, but of course I still don’t have a flower to match every single color combination I might wear. So, I’m always making more.

Fabric Flowers on JanMadeIt 2

These don’t have to be pins, they can be hair clips, headbands, or ponytail holders. You can also adorn a hat, purse, or tote bag with one or a bouquet of them.

Frequently people ask. Where did you get it? How did you make it. When I answer some will say, “Oh, that looks easy,” or they’ll be totally baffled and say “I couldn’t do that, I don’t have a creative bone in my body.”

Well, that’s not true. Everyone is creative about something, and if you want to make a fabric flower, just pick up a needle and thread and a scrap of cotton and I’ll show you how.

Fabric Flowers on JanMadeIt 4

One of the very easy starter flowers involves a strip of fabric, any old strip will do, and a button.

Tools you need are simple: needle, thread, and scissors. You can use any all-purpose thread, but regular thread can snag and fray and it will tangle. Hand quilting thread is coated just to make that less likely so that’s what I use.

Making Fabric Flowers JanMadeIt 01

Your strip of fabric can be cut or ripped across the grain. It doesn’t even have to be straight. A strip that tapers from about one inch to two or three inches is good. It needs to be about 18-20 inches long. If it’s longer, you’ll cut off the excess when you’re done. But if it’s shorter, and you really love that scrap, that’s OK too. Just find a scrap to go with it and continue on.

I also make flowers out of small randomly shaped chunks of fabric, so if you don’t have a strip of a favorite print, save it. I’ll show you how to use it later.

Making Fabric Flowers JanMadeIt 03

So thread your needle and get started.

Knot your thread, and then start a simple running stitch along the edge of your strip.

The coating on quilting thread that makes it easy to use, also makes it hard to tie into a knot. You can hold the end of the thread so it doesn’t pull through the fabric and make a couple of stitches before you start. Or you can make a quilters knot. Since I don’t have pictures right now, you can do a search and find several how-tos. 

I usually start with the narrow end of the strip, this will be the center of your flower. On this blue strip below I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do in the center so  I started a few inches from the end of the strip. I can use it later or trim it off. (I ended up trimming it off.)

Making Fabric Flowers JanMadeIt 04

Make a running stitch about an eighth of an inch from the edge. I’ll run three or four stitches on the needle before pulling it through. The length of the stitches is not important, but the distance from the edge needs to be consistent.

Making Fabric Flowers JanMadeIt 05

Do this a few times and then pull the strip into a ruffle along the thread. Make a couple of back stitches to hold the ruffle in place. Keep that up and as you continue to gather the strip it will curve into a circle.

When your stitching curls around to meet the beginning of the strip make adjustments to the gathers and when you’re happy with the way it looks tack the two layers together. You can end it there or if you feel like it keep gathering to the end of your strip. When you decide you’re done, turn the last half-inch to the back and tack it in place.

Making Fabric Flowers JanMadeIt 07

That’s all there is to it for a one layer flower like this.

One Layer Flower on JanMadeIt 1

When you have your completed flower, you’ll work from the back to add the button. A shank button works great. That’s the kind of button with the loop on the back.

There will be a hole in the center of your flower so stitch across from edge to edge to tighten it up.  While you’re at it, take your needle through the shank of the button back and forth several times.

If you use a button with holes, pull the center of the flower closed so you’ll have something to attach the button to.  Be sure to check it from the front as you stitch, you can pull a button off-center without realizing it.

 (Note: I have no idea what that little brown smudge is. Looks like I was eating chocolate. Mmmmm… chocolate.)

Making Fabric Flowers JanMadeIt 14

When you’re done, it may look something like this from the side.

One Layer Flower on JanMadeIt 5

The next thing to do is cover the raw edges on the back and attach a pin back. Or hair clip if you prefer.

One Layer Flower on JanMadeIt 4a

Use a small scrap of fabric and turn the edges under if you’re using woven fabric, but felt or fleece also do the job they are much easier to use.

Making StarsStripes Flower 15

Sometimes there will be a dip in the center of your flower. If that’s the case with yours it will be easier to attach the pin back if you fill this cavity. Use a few snips of felt, a tiny pinch of batting, or a bit of polyfil under the back cover.

So there you have it. For this blue scroll fabric and button I liked the ragged cut of the edge of the fabric but I didn’t want it to fray. I used a toothpick to run a line of glue along the edge of the fabric to prevent that.

One Layer Flower on JanMadeIt 6

After you make this simple single layer flower there are thousands of variations you can come up with.

A strip that starts at a half-inch wide will create a spiral when you use a contrast edging. This is a little bit of tatted trim I made years ago and stitched around the edge.

OneLayer 2 BlueMetallic on JanMadeIt

This scrap of linen was finished with a bit of scalloped lace.

OneLayer 3 Linen and Lace on JanMadeIt

This blue one is a little busy. I might take it apart and make it over. The top layer is a spiral with a blanket stitch edge. The bottom layer has rick rack trim, and the same rick rack frames the vintage green button in the center.

Making Fabric Flowers JanMadeIt 21

There are a multitude of ways to use these. Decorate a purse, tote, a hat or even a pair of shoes… (Shoes, huh. I just now thought of that!). And there are a number of ways to use them in home decor. A wreath is just one idea that comes to mind. In fact the flowers stuck on my cork board were the inspiration for my crocheted spring wreath.

This is a nice little project, good for doing in front of the TV.  If you have a plan, you can finish one in less than an hour. But if you aren’t sure how you want it to turn out, deciding where to go next can take some time. I have a little stash of unfinished flowers that will surely tell me where they want to go one of these days.

Any ideas on what you would do with a pile of fabric flowers color coordinated to your wardrobe?

I’d love to hear your ideas. And if you make one, share a picture.



Butterfly and Flower Hair Clips

Last week I spent the day with my nieces, Riley and Avery, and I made a couple of hair clips for them. We didn’t have a plan, but we did have some felt.

Felt Butterfly 10

I first drew a butterfly on a sheet of notebook paper and colored it with markers. Then I rough cut a few little pieces of felt and shaped them into butterfly wings. They aren’t exactly like the wings I drew but the girls thought they looked good so I didn’t fret over it.

I cut a few smaller pieces and then shaped the spots on the wings. I used hand quilting thread to stitch the spots to the wings. All purpose thread will work, but 100% cotton hand quilting thread is wax coated to reduce drag when the thread is pulled through the quilt layers. Which means it’s less likely to tangle. Yay!

Felt Butterfly 01

I stitched the top two wings together and then tacked on the pink spots. Then I did the same with the bottom wings and the orange spots. I layered the top wings over the bottom set and stitched them together, first on the back…

Felt Butterfly 03

…and then tacked it securely on the top. These stitches would be hidden by the body.

After the wings were connected I placed the yellow scallops on the top wings and I cut out a little blue body.

Felt Butterfly 04

Easy peasy.

Felt Butterfly 06

It would be fun to add sequins to the wings, but we didn’t have any. Instead, I outlined some of the parts with lavender (or is it lilac?) cotton thread.

Felt Butterfly 07

We decided it needed a head, so a tiny orange circle was added to the top of the body. Then I attached a clip to the back and Avery was delighted.

Felt Butterfly 08

With a few more scraps I took a circle of felt and folded it into quarters. I sliced it along each fold to create four petals. I rounded the corners of each petal. Then I did the same with second piece of felt. I used two different shades of pink.

I did it again with an orange circle. To change it up I put a slit in the middle of each petal to make eight. It still looked like an orange circle so I cut a “V” shape between each petal and shortened them by about 1/4 to 3/8 inch.

With a needle and thread I stacked the three layers and tacked them together.

I traced around a spool of thread to get an accurate circle out of yellow felt.  The purple thread was handy so I used it to hold it all together.

FeltFlower 01

Then the hair clip was added.

FeltFlower 02

Riley was happy to have this one.

FeltFlower 06a

Pretty cute for a half-hours worth of stitching and a few scraps.

I wanted this to be a project for them to do, but I had no idea where I was headed when I picked up these felt scraps. Now that I figured out the sequence and the supplies needed, I can provide some simple patterns and they’ll be able to do it on their own.

These felt doo dads can be attached to a pony tail holder or a head band, either fabric or the hard plastic kind. Tack it to a tote bag or a t-shirt. Just make one or two or decorate with a whole garden full of flowers or a kaleidoscope of butterflies.

BTW: That is the real name of a bunch of butterflies; a kaleidoscope.  Sometimes they are called a swarm or a rabble. A swarm sounds scary to me, like bees.  And rabble sounds chaotic, and a rowdy rabble doesn’t make me think of butterflies.
Other websites ignore those names altogether and call a group of butterflies a flight or a flutter.

I tried to come up with a little bumble bee, but he needs some work.  A caterpillar would be easy, or a small bird.  And Avery wants a car.

Any other ideas for easy useful crafts for summertime?



My First Etsy Sale!

I’m so excited! I made my first etsy sale a few days ago!

Play Blanket on JanMadeIt.wordpress.com

I had a listing for two picnic blankets I’d made out of this baseball themed tapestry fabric.

Play Blanket on JanMadeIt.wordpress.com

The blankets are now on their way to a baseball-loving family in Idaho. The buyer also wanted a piece of the same fabric to cover the seat of a chair, but alas, I had no more. I stuffed a few extra yards of the red cord into the box, so the bed roll handle can be lengthened to shoulder-length.

Play Blanket on JanMadeIt.wordpress.com

I couldn’t find any details about this fabric pattern online, but as I recall we used this kind of tapestry to make vests in the 80s and early 90s. If someone knows more about it than I recall, I’m all ears. But at any rate, it’s discontinued. Estate sales, garage sales, or a fabric store that specializes in discontinued fabric is where I might find more.

I have one more piece of upholstery fabric for a picnic blanket. It’s a rich red and blue. If I can lay my hands on tonight, I’ll stitch it up tomorrow and get it listed this weekend.

Even though summer picnic season is drawing to a close, tailgates are right around the corner.

Where would you use one of these blankets and what colors or design would you choose?


Take Me Out to the Ball Game Play Blanket

When my son was about three I realized I needed to keep a play blanket of some sort in the car All. The. Time. because we never had one when we needed it. Here in Norman we spent Saturday mornings at Griffin Park playing soccer in the spring and fall. Summer weeknights were occupied with Little League. Reeves Park is where moms and dads play softball while the kids climb the bleachers and play in the dirt on the sideline.

I made a couple of play blankets out of quilted fabric that—20 years later—are still useful as dog beds. I never thought to make one out of upholstery fabric, but one like this would have been handy.

I stitched this up over the weekend. Actually, I had enough fabric to make two of them and they’re listed on etsy if you’re spending lots of time at the park this summer.


It’s tapestry upholstery fabric that’s plenty sturdy for playing or napping. The fabric is stiff, so it’s not a snuggle blanket, but it’s just right for a picnic, a concert in the park, or a nap in the shade of a tree.

Play Blanket on JanMadeIt.wordpress.com

It’s about 5 feet square. The sides are hemmed, and the short fringe of the selvage has been left exposed.

Play Blanket on JanMadeIt.wordpress.com

Fold it in half, then in quarters and roll it up like a bed roll. It’s a just-right size to cram in the corner of the trunk of the car, use it as a lumbar pillow on long car trips, or take it on board for a pillow on the airplane.

Play Blanket on JanMadeIt.wordpress.com

it’s tied up nice and neat with a carrying handle. I’ll add an additional length of braid for a shoulder strap and hands-free hauling.

I have way too much fabric in my stash these days, so a few more of these may turn up in other styles. Watch for them.

Where would you find one of these useful?



Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: