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:

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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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One wedding, three creations

Last week we went to a wedding, my husband’s niece was getting married.
To prove the well-known proverb “The shoemaker’s son always goes barefoot” wrong, I decided to create a cocktail hat for myself (for once! :-D) to wear at the wedding. It gave me a chance to try my new hat block, a mini beret. I covered the base with a beautiful quilted dupioni silk and decorated with a spray of rumbling roses in purple. 

Floral cocktail hat

The flowers have as always been painted shaped and assembled by hand. That’s me wearing it at the wedding ☺

For Alex I have created a calla lily boutonniere in matching colours of lemony lime yellow. I used the template which I obtained from calla lillies growing in my garden. I like their sleek and elegant look!
Here is my husband wearing the calla lily buttonhole created using specialised Japanese fabrics.

I have thought long and hard about what I should create for my little girl and decided that a pair of edelweiss hair clips would be perfect. Made of specialist Japanese fabrics and lined and wired they proved to be rather hardwearing even in the paws of curious 11 month old                                                                                  

I can sense a whole line of accessories for little ones shaping up in my brain. Keep your eyes peeled to my blog and Facebook page!

And that’s mummy and daughter in the church

fabric dyes

About fabric dyes I use to colour my flowers

Often I am asked what sort of dyes I use to colour fabrics for my pieces. And it is a very relevant question as not any fabric dyes could be used for our purposes. To start with I can say that acrylic fabric dyes are not suitable for a number of reasons. First, they are quite thick, they coat the fabric rather than just penetrate it thus changing the texture of it and they also stick to the millinery tools when we shape petals or leaves.
The right dyes to use when making silk flowers are so called aniline dyes, synthetic dyes that come in either liquid or powder form.
I started with these Russian made aniline dyes, which come in 11 rather strange completely artificial colours. They need careful mixing before one can come up with a suitable delicate colour to use on flowers.

The advantage of any aniline dyes is that they are completely intermixable and diluted with water. The disadvantage is there is no white in the palette so the only way to create a tint is to add more water which sometimes does not give the desirable result.

I could not keep ordering liquid dyes from Russia, so I was on a hunt for local, British made aniline dyes. And at a craft exhibition in Birmingham I came across a stand with lots of different dyes, including the ones in the photo below:

It does not say anywhere on them what sort of dyes they are but they are just what the doctor ordered! And yes, these are dry powdered dyes. They last for ages, really economical but probably slightly more difficult to use than the liquid ones. The palette has 20+ colours, I just have 10 here, but mainly use Golden Yellow, Turquoise, Scarlet, Olive Green, Leaf Green and Green Lemon. Again, all intermixable and diluted with just water.

Another set of dyes I have come from Japan. They are liquid and come in little bottles with a pipette on top for measuring drops. They are called drop dyes.

The drop dyes allow to recreate a complex colour every time you want to do it which is not really possible with powder dyes. All you need to do is to measure a certain about of water into a container and add a certain amount of 1-2-3-4 or how many required dyes into it. The amount of dyes is measured simply with drops. In some Japanese books on silk flower making there are charts which tell you how to mix dyes to get the particular colour for the flowers shown.
These dyes are the most expensive of all and unfortunately do not last that long, that is finish quite quickly.
The brushes you see in the picture come from Japan as well. They are designed to paint fabric flowers and are made of deer fur.

Although Japanese artists use little white plastic dishes to prepare colours for dyeing fabrics, I discovered that small portion sized jam jars work pretty well for me. Not only they are big enough, but also if any dye is left you can always cover the jar with a lid and save the precious dye from evaporating!

And lastly, as with any chemicals, one has to take precautions using aniline dyes. Please do not swallow or inhale the dry particles when working with them. Common sense above all!

Explore these tutorials to learn more about colouring fabrics for making fabric flowers

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