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
Gift guide

My ultimate gift guide for a flower maker

Christmas is less than a month away and it is high time we thought what we would like to find in our Christmas stocking on 25th December 2015. Below you will find a wide choice of possible gifts ranging from tools to supplies to books and experiences all chosen to please an avid flower maker. Most of these things I have a use regularly, some others are in my gift list for Santa.Please note that I have not received any of the items listed below as a gift for this review. I am doing this gift guide simply because I love what I do and I would like you to enjoy flower making as well.Prices correct at the time of publishing.Simply click on an image and you will be taken to a website where you can purchase the item.I hope you will find the gift guide useful. Comments are welcome

Silk roses

Autumn is taking its toll on nature. The trees are showing their bare branches as the last leaves fall onto the cold wet ground. The grass is not as green any more. The days are short, grey and full of drizzly rain. Gardens seem to be hybernating and apart from a lonely pink nerine or a yellow spike of mahonia the eye does not see any bright colours.

Fortunately for us, handmade silk flowers are still there where the fresh ones might have gone. They please our eye and lift our spirits. Old English roses continue to flower despite the autumnal darkness.

Old English Rose brooch

I am often asked to do a rose tutorial. To be honest, roses are one of the most complicated flowers to be created out of silk and before  one attempts to try and make a complicated silk rose dozens of less complex flowers have to be made to gain enough experience, get to know the tools and properties of the silk, learn coloration techniques and flower shapes. Obviously a .pdf tutorial will not suffice in this case. Although a one-to-one session is ideal, in the modern world of technology the Skype lesson is next best. And now let’s concentrate on Christmas pieces!

Bridal sash flower

Accentuate your bridal sash with a silk rose

Lilac rose brooch

I must admit I like the idea of a beautiful silk flower accentuating a wedding dress sash. Painted by hand to match a wedding colour scheme it stands out against the white or cream froth of a bridal gown and yet complements the theme.

Hand made using a specialist technique the rose brooch is more durable than you might think yet delicate and beautiful, which makes it a great accessory even after your W-day. Wear it with a romantic outfit and it will always remind you of one really special day in your life.

Silk rose corsage for a bridal sash

The rose measures about 10 cm in diameter without foliage. The size of the brooch as well the the colour can be customised according to your preferences. To purchase the designer silk rose corsage before someone else snaps this desirable piece of wearable art please head to my Etsy store. There you can also place your custom order.
 

Peter Beales: classic English roses

Last Saturday in between the showers we set off to visit Peter Beales nursery, which so happens to be only 20 minutes drive from our place. Peter Beales, sadly deceased earlier this year, was very well known as a rosarian, author and lecturer. Beales was considered one of the leading experts on roses, especially species and classic roses, preserving many old varieties and introducing 70 new cultivars during his lifetime.

Our humble collection has one of Peter Beales’ roses and we’ve got our eyes on another one for next year.

Coincidentally last weekend the nursery held the 3rd annual rose festival with garden tours, draws, competitions, workshops and much more. And although we did not manage to win a free rose plant we did have a lovely time and enjoyed spectacular rose blooms. We took pictures too!

I have to say that such places are a heaven for silk flower artist, and Peter Beales nursery is not an exception. 
Every rose bloom I saw was crying to be recreated in silk. The colours were amazing, the shapes   were so diverse. Suddenly everything I studied on silk rose making started to make sense: the form of the blooms, the colouring, the shape of petals etc.
Peter Beales roses are very different in shape and colour but most of them do have scent. In the catalogue the scent values from 0 (no scent) to 10 (strongly scented).
A lot of varieties produce large double blooms so packed with petals (see the picture above) one might mistake them for some other flower. 

More conventional shaped blooms can be found too.

I particularly liked the varieties which produce numerous clusters of small pompon-like blooms. The one above looks almost like a cherry blossom to me.

Large open flowers with a simple shape looked equally impressive and inspired me to be repeated with fabric.

But best of all I like double flat roses in pastel colours like the one above. They are delicate and fragile and irresistibly beautiful.
After this visit I returned home inspired and full of ideas for the weeks to come. I hope you enjoyed the pictures of beautiful rose blooms too.