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

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

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 with this 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 website if 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? That’s the subject of our next week’s discussion. To stay tuned subscribe to our newsletter below
3 must have silk fabrics for making flowers and MORE

3 must have silk fabrics for making flowers and MORE

taster fabric packSHOP OUR RANGE OF PROFESSIONAL  FABRICS FOR FLOWER MAKING HERE 

One of the evergreen questions I get to hear is about what fabrics for making flowers are considered the best and should be used.

I must admit navigating in the sea of fabrics can be very daunting especially if you are quite new to the art of flower making. What exactly is satin and do you really need pure silk? Questions, questions, questions…
In short, flowers can probably be made with any fabric, but the end result will differ. If you wish to make detailed realistic delicate flowers you will need to choose certain fabrics that have proven to work well for couture flowers.
Here I present my short guide to the 3 must have fabrics you’ll require when you start making flowers. These 3 fabrics are a good starting point for the beginner.  Once you have become  more experienced and confident you will be able to expand the list of fabrics that can be used in flower making (we’ll talk about some other fabrics during the next weeks).
Before I start, let’s clarify the difference between a fabric and a finish. Fabrics are cotton, silk, linen, rayon or polyester, to name a few. Finishes are terms like crepe, taffeta, and satin. That said, “satin” does not mean silk fabric as satin can be made out of polyester, rayon or other fibers. Not all of the fabrics will be equally good for our purpose.
Silk Crepe de Chine
is light and fine plain woven dress fabric. Crepe de Chine  has a slightly crepe character, a feature produced by the use of weft, or filling, yarns spun with the twist running in reverse directions.
This fabric is great for us for several reasons:

 ~ it is very forgiving, pliable, pleasant and easy to work with

~ it frays very very little if at all which makes it suitable for small and large flowers

~ it has no right or wrong side which works well for some designs

I would strongly recommend using this type of fabric for flower petals. It dyes well too.
I have a tutorial on SILK CLOVER that demonstrate how to work with Crepe de Chine, which is perfect for this small flower.

 

Very unusual humble flower of clover is perfect for summer flower crowns and hat trims. Fiddly to make out of fabric but well worth the effort for that special project you have in mind.

 

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE FABRIC CLOVER TUTORIAL

 

 


Silk Satin

When we think of silk, the texture we usually visualise is satin.This fabric is formed with a satin weave and can be made out of various fibers including silk, nylon, or polyester. It is smooth and soft to the touch, and usually quite lightweight. Satin has a subtle sheen, meaning it will catch and reflect the light.
This fabric is your first choice when making fabric leaves. It allows to imitate the glossy smooth surface of real foliage.
But it will make beautiful rose petals too (as well as any other petals). So experiment with it and try using it for both: fabric leaves and fabric petals.
Unlike crepe, satin fabric has the right (shiny) side and wrong (matte, crepe-like) side to it.
Silk satin is a popular fabric with flower makers and customers alike so I have prepared a number of tutorials that use satin.
 This video tutorial on silk camellias is marked “Intermediate” but will be perfectly suitable for beginners. Learn to cut flower parts, paint them with silk colours, shape with millinery tools and assemble into one of a kind floral jewellery or hairpieces.
 LEARN MORE ABOUT THE CAMELLIA FLOWER VIDEO TUTORIAL

A more complicated video tutorial on a large English rose hair comb is recommended for the flower makers with some experience. Satin silk can be used for both the petals and the foliage.
 LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ENGLISH ROSE VIDEO TUTORIAL

Concise and easy to follow photo tutorial on silk leaves shows how to back leaves with a layer of thin silk and shape them with millinery tools to achieve a realistic look. You also get several leaf templates. 
 LEARN MORE ABOUT THE FABRIC LEAVES PHOTO TUTORIAL

 

Silk pongee

is a plain woven thin fabric. It is also known as China silk or Habutai (Habotai). The fabric is lighter in weight than other silks. Quite often it is used for lightweight scarves.

In flower making pongee is a secret agent. That is it’s not really seen but often plays a vital role in creating silk floral designs. It is widely used for backing leaves and petals as well as wrapping stems of flowers with silk. It can also be used for small filling petals in large roses, peonies or other fairly large multipetal flowers.
I also use it for a number of jobs in leather flower making. Definitely a must have fabric for your stash.
 The fabrics I have listed above are just few out of a whole range of different fabrics that can be used for making flowers.
But they are great to begin with. I would recommend you should obtain pure silk fabrics for the following reasons:

❀ they are easy to work with and will provide a predictable result
❀ they dye easily and beautifully
❀ they will take the heat of a flower iron and tools well
Best places to purchase these silks are online batik and art shops. If you google them in your area you will be able to find local suppliers.If you are a UK based maker, please feel free to contact me if you need any assistance finding shops to bgolden backing fabricuy these silks, I will be happy to help.

There are a lot of other fabrics to talk about with regards to flower making. We discuss them in detail in our newsletter. Stay tuned! If you have not yet, feel free to join the list below.

Some professional prestiffened fabrics for flower making are available in our online shop.

Currently we are offering the following professional fabrics for you to try and fall in love with with:

➡ FABRIC TASTER PACK 

➡ GOLDEN, SILVER or PEARL LAME SATIN

➡ RAYON ORGANZA FABRIC

➡ THIN RAYON BACKING FABRIC

➡ RAYON SATIN FABRIC

➡ GOLDEN, SILVER or PEARL BACKING FABRIC

➡ WHITE or BLACK COTTON VELVET FABRIC

Should you require any specialist fabrics for your project, feel free to get in touch with us at enquiries@presentperfectcreations.com to place a custom order.