Flower shaping tools, part 4: knife tools

For 2019 I have planned a series of short videos demonstrating how to works with different types of flower tools.
I believe this will help you understand your tools better and use them to their full potential achieving great shapes and lines on your petals and leaves.

This is the third video in the series, for which I have chosen another popular tool that can probably be found in any set, traditional or more modern: a knife tool, the sharpest tool in the flower making set.

flower shaping tools
To be more precise I am demonstrating how to work with both, the single blade knife tool and the double knife tool that has got a groove.
Both of these tools can be used for shaping a wide variety of leaves as well as flower petals. I regularly use the knife tool to shape fabric butterfly wings, too.  In other words, anywhere where you could do with some veining or lines to add texture, shape and interest, you can use your knife tools on fabric as well as leather.

Normally knife type tools are used with medium pads  as shown in the video.

In skillful hands a simple knife tool can produce a range of different effects, some of which I am showing in today’s video, where I am shaping a flannelette poppy leaf, a velveteen lily petal and a golden lame satin butterfly wing, all of which are made with different fabrics.
The more different flowers you learn to make, the better you become at using your knife tools. I think I would  probably not be wrong if I say that the knife tool features in most of our tutorials, which shows how indispensable it really is for a flower maker.
Currently the single blade and double blade knife tools can be purchased as part of the 14 pc European set of tools or the more extensive 22 pc set of tools (use the links at the end of the email to find out more about each set).
In case if you believe you could benefit from a hands-on one-to-one workshop to improve your flower shaping and flower making skills you are welcome to book one of our workshops (see the schedule here).
Meanwhile watch the video I have prepared for you today (see the link below) where I am demonstrating several ways of using these well-known tools and (hopefully) discover something new for yourself.
Leather Pompom Rose tutorial

Flower shaping tools, part 3: ball tools

For 2019 I have planned a series of short videos demonstrating how to works with different types of flower tools.
I believe this will help you understand your tools better and use them to their full potential achieving great shapes and lines on your petals and leaves.

This is the third video in the series, for which I have chosen a very familiar flower shaping tool, or, in fact tools: ball tools.

I wouldn’t be far off, if I said that a round or a ball tool was one of the first tools invented for shaping flowers. Lots of petals have a concave shape, so a tool like that was really necessary in flower making.flower shaping ball tools
As a rule each set has several balls of different diameter ranging from 2mm to 30mm.
If you wish, you could find ball tools even larger than 30 mm for shaping oversized flowers.

Ball tools are widely used for shaping rose petals and work well with both soft and medium pads.

In skillful hands a simple ball tool can produce incredible and very different results.
Some of which I am showing in the video below, where I am shaping 4 rose petals in 4 different ways to achieve different effect and therefore a differently shaped flower.
The more different roses (as well as other flowers) you learn to make, the better you become at using your ball tools.
In my Advanced Silk Rose video course (book now to take part in September 2019) we’cover conventional and less so ordinary use of the ball tools when shaping our roses. So if this subject is of interest to you, you have some experience in flower making and would like to improve your skills you are welcome to join the course here.
Meanwhile watch the video I have prepared for you today (see the link below) where I am demonstrating less so ordinary ways of using these familiar tools and (hopefully) discover something new for yourself
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yellow silk rose hat

Flower shaping tools, part 2: TWEEZERS

For 2019 I have planned a series of short videos demonstrating how to works with different types of flower tools.
I believe this will help you understand your tools better and use them to their full potential achieving great shapes and lines on your petals and leaves.

This is the second video in the series, for which I have chosen the oh-so-ambiguous and not-so-specialist tool: a pair of tweezers. flower shaping tweezers

It’s true, the tweezers we are using are not a specialist flower shaping tool as such. You can pick up a pair at your local craft store or online. Just make sure they have smooth straight tips and a very good grip (I mean the tips can be put really close to each other without any space between them and they can grab and hold even the finest of fabrics without it being able to easily slip out of their grip when shaped).

If you have not had a chance to obtain a suitable pair of tweezers for your flower shaping jobs, you can order a pair on my website

Once you’ve got a pair that you can work with, the next step is to master that curl ☺
I am going to be completely honest with you here: there’s no other way but to practise (a lot). The more you try and work with your tweezers the better you become at curling edges of flower petals.
I can not stress enough how important this technique is. So it is all worth it to spend some time grasping the idea and fine tuning your movement for a decent result.
By all means watch the video I have prepared for you (see the link below) where I am trying to not only show but also explain all the minutiae of this technique.
But please remember to practise enough to nail this technique. Believe me you won’t regret it as it will take your rose, iris, poppy, peony and many other flower petals to a completely new level.
Make tweezers your good friend and enjoy shaping flower petals.
soldering flower iron

How to choose a flower iron?

Which tools to choose?

To make the most of the flower making tutorials I and other tutors offer one must have a set of flower shaping tools.
Flower shaping or otherwise known as millinery tools… We use millinery tools to shape fabric or leather in order to create realistic or artistic petals and leaves which we then assemble into

flower pieces. They are essential for the craft (and ART) and yet they cause more questions than any other aspect of flower making. flower shaping millinery tools

Traditionally millinery tools have always been on separeate handles and required heating over an open flame or using other sources of heat.  The famous Atelier Legeron which supply Parisian fashion houses with silk flowers still use traditional tools like these.
However there is another option available to us, flower artists, now. I am talking about an electric iron and millinery tools that are inserted inside it to be heated.
To use a traditional set or a more modern electric flower iron may be down to personal preferences. But I do believe that the electric iron set allows to work quicker. It is advisable to have 2 or 3 flower irons so that when shaping a flower you could have 2-3 tools that are required for shaping it, heated and ready to be used at the same time.
Sets on separate handles come from the times when there was no electricity. So why not use the achievements of the civilization to our advantage? If you have inherited a set of tools on separate handles or you have already got one of those, you can of course continue using it. For those of you who are thinking about purchasing a new set I would recommend to go for an electric flower iron with a set of interchangeable tips (see the photo of the tips above).

Which flower iron to choose?

I am often asked by students about what flower iron to use.

Whilst I offer flower tools on my website, I do not sell flower irons. This happens for several reasons. First of all, soldering irons are not a particularly specialist piece of kit and can be easily obtained (although you will need to know which one to buy!).

Another thing soldering flower iron is that my students live all over the world, which means your sockets and plugs might be very different from mine.
Luckily I can recommend the flower iron I have been using myself for 5+ years. It  seems to be a popular global model and sells in different countries with the right socket that suits each country.
This flower iron is compatible with different tools I have seen, used and owned myself. However, in case if your tools are wider than 6 mm at the part which is inserted into an iron, this model is not for you.
You can easily pick up the right soldering iron on Amazon in your country. You need this Weller SP40N 40 Watt High Performance Soldering Iron (see the photo on the right).
For France and other European counties please use this link to find out more about the iron.
For the US and Canada please use this link to find out more about the iron.

japanese style flower shaping tools

flower making tools full setflower making tools

combination flower shaping tool

tools and supplies for making flowers

To economise or not on tools and supplies for making flowers? Part I

flower shaping millinery toolsWhether you are relatively new to flower making or you have been creating blooms for a while you know that tools and supplies for making flowers can get rather pricey. In case if you ever wondered whether there is something you could spend less on without compromising the quality of a finished item, this article would be of interest to you.

Let’s talk about bare necessities for a flower making artist and find out where it makes sense to save some money, and where it is advisable to invest in the best possible tools or supplies for making flowers.

There are certain things that you should not economise on. The first one is a set of millinery or flower shaping tools. Make sure you invest in a good quality basic set of tools, that you can expand later on as you develop your skills in flower making. A basic one must include a range of balls from tiny 2 mm to 30 mm or so, knives for scoring veins (with or without groves), tools for scoring softer lines, a hook and possibly some other tools depending on the manufacturer.
Pictured is  the extended set of tools I use for making my flowers and flower pieces..Rubber pads for millinery tools
Tools can be made of brass or other metals, this is not that important.
To heat up the tools you will require a soldering iron. I would not try and cut costs here. I tried working with a number of cheap soldering irons before and I all I can say that not only do they burn out really quickly, but they might be very dangerous for you, too. To be on the safe side get yourself one of the tried and tested ones from  Amazon or your local hardware shop. I am very pleased withthis Weller one available of Amazon.

 

To shape petals and leaves you’ll need some rubber and foam pads. Here you can get creative. As long as your pads deliver the right results you can use rubber or foam you have sourced yourself. I do offer professional flower shaping pads on my websiteif you do not have time to source your own. Should you want to make your own flower shaping pads, remember that the medium one is about 15 to 20 mm thick and is rather resistant. You can make one yourself out of old style mouse pads by cutting one in half, stacking 2 halves one on top of the other and covering them with a piece of plain thin cotton fabric. The soft one, however, is a much softer foam type pad about 30 mm thick and can be substituted by a suitable foam from a supermarket or a hardware shop. Do not forget to cover it with a piece of plain thin cotton fabric as well.

taster fabric packThen naturally you will need fabric (or leather) to make petals and leaves out of. This is a vast subject. But what ever you choose, be it natural silks that you stiffen yourself, some vintage re-purposed fabrics or professional factory made flower making materials go for the best quality you can.

There is nothing wrong in stiffening your own fabrics. Quite frankly sometimes it is the only choice, when for example you are asked to incorporate a customers fabric into their flower piece. Just make sure you use the best stiffener for the fabric in question, stiffen it flat to ensure no creases spoil the look of your petals and go for it.
However, if you wish to try something different or if you do not have time to stiffen your own fabrics, factory stiffened fabrics can be a great solution for you. Some professional flower making fabrics only exist in this prestiffened ready to use form and you won’t be able to find them anywhere at an ordinary haberdashery department. Some of these wonderful fabrics are currently for sale in my online shop. I am in love with the cotton velvet with its short pile and and the sparkly lame fabrics that are great for festive and fantasy designs.
Fabrics are offered by fat quarter but larger quantities (from 1m) can be available by request at a reduced price.
There’s more to the art of flower making that meets the eye. There are a lot of other tools and supplies for making flowers that are involved in the process of turning a flat white piece of material into a stunning colourful flower piece. To achieve a realistic or fantasy look for your flowers you will need to paint the fabric of your choice with some fabric dyes. Which ones? To stay tuned subscribe to our newsletter HERE
To read To economise or not on tools and supplies for making flowers? Part II click here
Christmas gift guide for flower maker artist crafter

Flower Artists’ Gift Guide for Christmas 2017

Our Flower Artist’s Gift Guide for Christmas 2017 has landed!

Feast your eyes on PresentPerfect Creations Studio gift selection for flower artists.  Treat yourself to a new tool, tutorial or supply and create something amazing today. Because you deserve a gift, too.

FREE DELIVERY coupon code inside. Hurry, the offer is time sensitive and valid only until 24 December 2017.

Happy gift hunting! ☺

To turn the pages of the gift guide, click on the arrow found next to the pages of the guide.

flower shaping millinery tools

More on flower shaping aka millinery tools

Flower shaping or otherwise known as millinery tools… We use millinery tools to shape fabric in order to create realistic or artistic petals and leaves which we then assemble into flower pieces. They are essential for the craft (and ART) and yet they cause more questions than any other aspect of flower making.

In our previous articles we have discussed how one could shape petals and leaves without the use of tools ( Shaping fabric flower petals without the use of tools ). Yes it is possible, but really rather limiting. Owning a set of tools gives you many more possibilities when it comes to flower making, in particular if you are interested in our yearly SUBSCRIPTION programme (learn more and register your interest for 2018 here). To make the most of the tutorial Subscription one must have a set of flower shaping tools.

Today I will try and answer 5 hottest questions about flower shaping tools that I hear most often.
❀ 1 ❀ Which is a better set: the one on separate handles or the one that comes with an electric iron?
This could possibly be down to personal preferences but I believe that the electric iron set allows to work quicker. It is advisable to have 2 or 3 flower irons so that when shaping a flower you could have 2-3 tools, that are required for shaping it, heated at the same time. Sets on separate handles come from the times when there was no electricity, why not use the achievements of the civilization to our advantage? If you have inherited a set of tools on separate handles or you have already got one of those, you can of course continue using it. For those of you who are thinking about purchasing a new set I would recommend to go for an electric flower iron with a set of interchangeable tips (see the photo of the tips above).
❀ 2 ❀ Do I have to have a whole set? How many tools will I really need?

millinery tools

There are a lot of different flower shaping tools. Some are used very often and are a part of any basic set, others are more rare and specialist. So how many of them will
one flower maker need?
Each tool has been designed for a particular purpose whether it scoring a line, creating a concave or curling up fabric. Some tools are interchangeable and differ only by the design, but are really meant to do the same job. I would say if you are thinking about making flowers seriously, it is good to have a starter or basic set which consists of a number of round tips of different diameters from about 3 mm to 30 mm, two knives to score lines, two chrysanthemum tools to create softer lines, a tube making attachment and a hook. Later you can add  such tools as lily-of-the-valley attachment or forget-me-not tool, or 35mm and 40mm round tools as optional extras.
The main thing to understand is that the more tools you have the more options there are at your disposal to shape fabric. Start with a basic one and build up your set by adding other invaluable tips to it ad you go along. In love with flower making? Then do not hesitate, get the whole lot straightaway and start creating.
If you own a set of tools but you believe you could do with some additional tools, consider our special offer on 2 extra narrow millinery tools which are indispensable for shaping leaves as well as petals. They are used in most of our tutorials.
❀ 3 ❀ What metal should the tools be made of?
Some tools are made of brass, hence the yellow-golden colour. This metal heats up well and does not rust which makes it a good choice for flower shaping tips. On the other hand, steel tools are available for sale as well.  Steel takes a bit longer to heat up but otherwise is an excellent choice too. Some Japanese tools are made of brass, mainly round tips (because it heats quicker), and others are made of steel (knives, chrysanthemum tools etc), there are some that are even made of a combination of both (a forget-me-not tip).In any case let not the metal stop you when choosing millinery tools, you should be alright using a set made of either brass or steel.
❀ 4 ❀ Where to buy a good set of millinery tools?
Suppose you have not got any, where do you go to get one?
Flower shaping tool set is a highly specialised item that can not be picked up at your local craft shop and only sold by very few. The easiest way is of course to buy online and have the set shipped to where you live. Places to check out is ebay and Etsy. You can also pick up some antique flower making tools at your local antiques shop or again online. Another option is to buy a set of tools of your flower teacher.At the moment you can place an order for a flower shaping tool sets here. These are the exact same sets I have used myself for the last 6 years for making flowers, teaching and filming my tutorials.
❀ 5 ❀ Why are millinery tools so expensive? Can I find them anywhere cheap?
Are the millinery tools expensive? I guess they are. And they are not. No more than hat blocks or other tools that we use for creating our handmade masterpieces. Regard the purchase of a set of flower shaping tools as an investment in yourself and in your ability to create countless gorgeous flowers with their help. I would steer clear of very cheap sets as the quality might not be there and you will end up throwing money to the wind. Better start with a smaller good quality reliable set and then just add more tools to it as you go along.
flower making tools full set

I am pleased to offer  the exact same full 22 piece set of flower shaping tools that I use for making all of my designs, film my tutorials and teach,

These sets of flower shaping millinery tools can be ordered HERE.
So if you are considering subscribing to our monthly flower making tutorials in 2018 make sure you have all the necessary tools to work with during the learning process.

Why buy flower making kits?

If you have follower our recent tutorial releases you have probably noticed that with every new tutorial we try and offer you to buy flower making kits as well.

leather poppy kit BROOCH
Leather Poppy Brooch KIT

Now, you might prefer to source your own materials, if you know well what you are looking for. However, if you have not had much experience in flower making as we offer it, hunting down the right materials can be more complicated than it seems. That’s why when making your first silk or leather flowers you might want to try one of our flower making kits.
Although having a kit is just a part of success, you will get a very good understanding of what materials I use myself when I make my flower pieces as well as develop tutorials for you Friend. Next time when you source your own materials you will know exactly what you need. Say, leather for leather flowers has to be rather thin, soft and pliable, with as little sealant or coating as possible, to give the required result. If you make a leather poppy from our latest tutorial using a kit, you will get the feel of the suitable leather you want to source for your future projects.

Silk Dandelion kit
Silk Dandelion Clock KIT

 

Some flowers may require specialist fabrics because of their nature. One of such flowers is the Silk Dandelion Clock made with finest pure silk organza.
Luckily, the silk dandelion clock can be made without the use of flower shaping tools. All you need is one of our Silk Dandelion Clock kits, some silk dyes, good quality thick PVA glue and lots of patience to create this jaw dropping design.

Due to popular demand, we are now developing flower making kits for of our older tutorials, like this one on the Wild Leather Rose Corsage. That’s another great flower that can be made without the use of flower shaping/ millinery tools. All the parts of this open leather rose design are hand shaped, the petals being finished with a pair of tweezers. A limited quantity of the Wild Leather Rose Corsage kits is now available on our website.

 

 

Remember that our kits are flat packed and therefore can not contain any dyes, glue or tools.
If you have a question regarding any of these, please get in touch with us via enquiries@presentperfectcreations.com to receive a recommendation or advice on what sort of dyes, tools or glue are the best to use and where to obtain them.
A lot of basic information of this kind can be found in my introductory ebooks on Silk and Leather flower making, designed specifically for beginners, as well as at the beginning of each tutorial.

 

Backing of handmade flower petals and leaves

silk camelliasTo back or not to back [ handmade flower petals and leaves with fabric ]? If you have not yet decided on this one, I hope this article will help you make up your mind.
So let’s see why, how and with what we back flower petals and leaves. If you have been following PresentPerfect Creations for a while and had a chance to see our tutorials you might have noticed that I always back foliage with a layer of fabric and quite often (depending on the project though) I do the same with flower petals.

On one hand, flower petals should look thin and delicate, but on the othcamellia japonica comp screen JPEGer hand since we make wearable flower pieces they need to be durable and robust enough to withstand wear, pressure and possible damage to some extent at least. Reinforcing handmade flower petals and leaves with another layer of fabric really helps achieve certain durability. Have a look at the camellia flowers above. Would you be able to guess that they are actually cardboard hard? They certainly do not look it and that’s the trick: whilst backing petals with another layer of fabric to give them a look of delicacy and fragility that we see in fresh flowers at the same time.

There are different ways of achieving this look and make your stiff durable flowers appear full of life. The techniqueoversized flower headpieces will vary from flower to flower but as a rule we use a flower iron and a pair of tweezers to shape parts. My SILK CAMELLIA JAPONICA CORSAGE video tutorial explains the process in detail.
If you happen to attend one of my workshops on an OVERSIZED ROSE HEADPIECE, you have experienced petal backing to full extent. Indeed this oversized rose is made of large satin petals that are all backed with a layer of thin silk. This job requires precision, speed, dexterity and neatness. The good news is, practice makes perfect. If you wish to join me for a workshop on this oversized silk rose please send your enquiry to enquiries@presentperfectcreations.comlace orchid headband 2

Although not all flower petals get backed, a certain range of materials would benefit from being backed on every occasion. Amongst those are lace, velvet, denimetc.
LACE ORCHID HAIR CIRCLET video tutorial teaches you how to work with lace and turn it into delicate ethereal flowers that are also robust. White lace flowers are perfect for bridal pieces but if you take coloured lace or dye white lace yourself you can make evening wear floral pieces and much more.
Another video course on a DENIM ROSE BUD shows how to work with denim.
So, leather rose spray corsagewhat fabric(s) to choose for backing?
The choice is more than you might think. For petals some thin fabrics like pongee or organza are used in most cases. But if your petals are made of heavier fabric (velvet, denim or similar), you can go for thin or thick satins, or decorative fabrics with metallic threads.
When backing leaves you can choose from an array of different fabrics ranging from very thin (think pongee, organza) to satins to decorative metallic fabrics to velvet should you blue silk hydrangeawish. There is no hard and fast rule about which fabric to use. Depending on your main fabric try to choose a backing fabric that will complement your design and give it a beautiful finish.

I personally love the durability and definition of backed flower parts be it petals, leaves or butterfly wings, that is why I use this method on a regular basis in my works. To learn more about how you can create handmade flower petals and leaves by backing them with a layer of fabric please have a look at some of the photo tutorials by PresentPerfect Creations studio below:

leather-baccara-tutorial-bonus-sq

A detailed BONUS photo tutorial on Leather Rose Brooch. Yes, you got it right, you can back leather petals and leaves with fabric too! And this bonus tutorial that comes as a freebie together with LEATHER ROSE BROOCH photo tutorial will teach you exactly how you can do that.

learn-more-button

 

fabric leaves tutorial

A step-by-step photo tutorial on how to create MILLINERY LEAVES that are just right for your project. Still looking for suitable leaves online and in shops? Look no further. A flower iron and this tutorial is everything you need to create any fabric leaves your project calls for.

learn-more-button

 

 

lace butterfly tutorial

A step-by-step photo tutorial on how to create our SIGNATURE SILK AND LACE BUTTERFLY ON A HEADBAND. As a bonus you will also get FREE tutorial on how to shape a velvet butterfly with a flower iron (details inside the main tutorial once you’ve got it)

learn-more-button

 

Should you wish to try and use some decorative fabric with metallic threads in your work (think Christmas ☺) please check this beautiful semitransparent rayon fabric with golden metallic thread. It will look great at the back of leaves as well as petals. The fabric comes prestiffened and is ready to be used in flower making.

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velvet for making flowers

Velvet for making flowers

velvet pansies2 (1280x939)As autumn draws nearer I want to talk about velvet for making flowers. Velvet flowers are great for autumn-winter season and make perfect trims for felt hats too.
Since velvet was introduced for the first time in the Middle East back in 9th century it has always been associated with luxury, nobility, royalty. And indeed it was so expensive in the past that only wealthy people could afford it.

So what is velvet?
Velvet is a kind of woven tufted fabric in which the cut threads are distributed in an even manner in a short dense pile thus giving a very soft and smooth feel. Traditionally velvet was made using silk. Nowadays velvet is made from cotton, linen, mohair and wool along with silk. Lately, synthetic velvets too are being produced.

velvet gladiolus flower 2In flower making we are only interested in velvets made using natural fibers like silk, viscose or cotton. These fabrics dye well with Procion and other silk dyes and can be shaped with millinery tools.
Velvet is perfect for making leaves (with the use of our Realistic Fabric leaves tutorial ), but whole flowers can be created out of it too. Think roses, pansies, gladioli, daffodils, orchids, camellias and many others.
Very often velvet is used for making flower centres or even for wrapping stems (as we did in CAMELLIA JAPONICA video tutorial)
Most of the techniques for working with velvet are very similar to other fabrics but there are some tricks and nuances that make velvet a little bit more delicate to deal with.
First is colouring. Because of its heavy weight, thickness and pile velvet absorbs a lot of water when being dyed. When left to dry on paper it will also lose a lot of water together with the dye. To achieve a brighter colour with velvet I always recommend drying flower parts on non porous surfaces like glass or plastic.
velvet fantasy flower 4Velvet is always dyed from the right side. Try to be gentle with your brush strokes not to mess up the pile too much.
As you can imagine velvet dries quite slowly too, especially on a non porous surface.
Another thing that can be tricky is shaping.
When shaping velvet take your time and do it slowly, letting the hot tool warm the thick fabric through and mould it into shape.
In most cases velvet flower parts are backed with a thin layer of fabric.
Because velvet has such a gorgeous sophisticated finish I like using lame fabrics for backing to add an extra touch.
Velvet can be backed with satin too.
Like all other fabrics velvet needs to be stiffened before it can be used for making flowers. A while ago I have already described one way velvet can be stiffened (please check out this post to find out how).

cotton velvet

 

The type of velvet I commonly use in my works is made of cotton and has a very short pile.

It dyes well and is easy to work with.
I have a limited quantity of fat quarters of this velvet currently available in my shop, so if you’d like to try it in your designs, make sure you get one now.
Ah, and the best bit is that this velvet comes prestiffened. It means it is ready to be used either for leaves, petals or a complete flower. To buy a velvet fat quarter please use the button below
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