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.)

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

Jan

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Fabric Flowers

If you know me in person you know I frequently wear a flower pin on a plain t-shirt. It started a few years ago when I got a brand new bright yellow shirt that fit perfectly and was the perfect shade of yellow.

After I wore if a few times I noticed a tiny pinprick hole near the neckline binding on the left side. Arrgggghh! But I was determined to continue wearing it and I came across a scrap, a very small scrap of vintage yellow fabric with strawberries on it. After I mulled it over awhile I gathered it into a circle, topped it with some red, and found some vintage buttons to layer on the top.
Vintage Fabric Flower on JanMadeIt

Now that I describe the process, I really should take it apart and feature the vintage fabric that inspired me.

But a new hobby was born (like I needed another). Here’s how I used another very small scrap of vintage fabric. I stitched this one into little pleats to form the circle.

Vintage Black and Bright Fabric Flower on JanMadeIt

The fabric had a looser weave, so I added a little blanket stitch to keep it from fraying too much. I don’t think the buttons are vintage, but they were the right size and color.

Since my wardrobe is primarily jeans and a t-shirt, I went a little nuts making these fabric flowers the last few years. This morning I took pictures of just the ones that are handy and ended up with over forty images.

I get lots of comments and questions about how I make them. I’ll just pick up a scrap, and grab a needle and thread and start doing something with it. I’m halfway done by the time I think to take a picture to show how I do it.

I wear them on a pin back, but they can easily be applied to a hair clip, a headband, ponytail holder, a hat… anywhere you want some embellishment.

This one is trimmed with baby rick rack, and centered with a scrap of lace and vintage buttons. Vintage Buttons and Lace on JanMadeIt

I made several with this same black and ivory calico.  Here’s another vintage button and some lace. I think this one went through the wash with the shirt I wore it on. The frayed edges are a little wrinkled.

Calico, vintage button and lace on JanMadeIt

Here I continued with the lace and twisted the black calico and a strip of ivory into this rosette. Looks like I need to clip some stray threads off this one.

Black and Ivory Calico Rosette on JanMadeItI think you get the idea. There are literally dozens more where these came from. I’ll try to share more of them in the coming weeks.

Anyone else out there make flowers?  Mine are all ad lib, but there are some really nice specific patterns and techniques I’d like to try. Let me know what you think.

Jan

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