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
glue for making flowers

Choosing the right glue for making flowers

To glue or not to glue? Let’s talk about choosing the right glue for making flowers

glue for making flowers

 

You can now buy the glue that has been specifically developed for making flowers. To find out more about this glue click here 

 

I receive a lot of emails with questions on different aspects of flower making. One of such burning questions is about choosing the right glue for making flowers with either fabric or leather.
I am not sure if I have mentioned this, but Japan is the country where the craft of making artificial flowers has truly blossomed into a real art. Therefore, there are all sorts of supplies available to those who decide to take it up ranging from various industrially prestiffened fabrics to special dyes and brushes, wires, stamens etc. etc. not to mention the oh-so-important glue.

choosing the right glue for making flowers Whilst it is easy and enjoyable to work with authentic materials, it is not always achievable. None of us live in Japan so we must find a replacement that we could purchase in our own country if we want to make good quality fabric flowers.
I live and work in Britain but I will try to offer alternatives that are going to be widely available (hopefully) as well as explain to you what you should look for.
In case if you were wondering I only work with PVA white glue. I never use any superglue or a hot glue gun in my works, although I know that other artists do use them. For the flowers made using the principles of the Japanese school 2 types of PVA glue are recommended. They are called soft and hard.
Soft glue is slightly less thick and takes longer to dry. It is used for gluing parts onto the backing allowing us enough tine to do that.
Hard glue is used for assembling jobs. You will particularly appreciate it when assembling large multipetal roses. Although very tacky and quick drying it still gives us time to reposition petals if we are not entirely satisfied with the way they have been assembled.

choosing the right glue for making flowers

 

 

Otherwise, you can get this best replacement for the Japanese hard glue that I have found, SOBO glue available on Amazon.
It is really thick and can is ideal for assembling flowers. It dries quickly and becomes clear once dry.

 

 

choosing the right glue for making flowers

As for the soft PVA glue there are several options available. For those of you who are in the UK, I would recommend to check out the tacky PVA glue from Hobbycraft (click here to go to their website)
Another option is PVA based fabric or wood glues which can also be used in flower making.
Also, have a look at this trial pack of tacky fabric glues by Aleene’s which look very promising.

By all means remember that both soft and hard glues are very thick and steer clear from stationary PVA glue that is meant to glue paper and card. Those are usually too runny for the job we do and can be very messy to work with.
I hope you have found this article useful and it will help you choose the right glue to work with.

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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!