Backing of handmade flower petals and leaves

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.

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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 â˜ș) 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
3 must have silk fabrics for making flowers

3 must have silk fabrics for making flowers

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.