In this blog post today I will take you through the steps to make a flower out of synthetic fabric using a burn technique. This is a VERY simple project. It is suitable for any craft level, there is very little sewing involved and you can do it all by hand no machine needed. This however is not a great kids craft. If you would like to take the craft to a new level your children could help you paint the finished product with ether a fabric paint, or die. Above is a photo of the finished product.
- synthetic fabric (You can use anything that melts under heat, stay away from natural fibers that will burn)
- Small Hand Sewing Needle or Seed Bead Needle
- Seed Beads
We start out by cutting strips of fabric at different widths.
Above you can see I have cut 3 widths of fabric. I like to do three layers of fabric with my flowers. Each cut width represents a future layer to my flowers. This is totally up to you. The more layers the more full the flower looks. You can also make larger flowers by adding more layers. I am a big fan of the 3 layers it keeps it a simple elegant look. My art background has also ingrained the rule of threes into my brain. Now if you are using scraps you may have to get creative with the cutting of strips. Just do the best you can to have an even number of small, medium, and large circles.
Pick up one of the strips of fabric you just cut and now trim the strips in roughly square shapes. Now You are welcome to make yourself a perfect template from something circular in your home. You can just draw the shape on to the fabric and cut perfect circles in that way. Use a pencil or some tailors chalk, trace the lid to your spaghetti sauce. You just need to find 3 variations in size. If you decide to go with the template you can just skip ahead to cutting out the circles. No need to cut them into squares. You will have lovely uniform flowers. I like the organic look of the flowers when I do a little free form cutting. This way no flower looks the same. So we will continue with that description.
After you have a bunch of squares we now shave off the corners to make a circular like shape. Some of my shapes are ovals, some of my shapes are not all smooth and curved. I sometimes put in some waves like petals. This is the part you can get quite creative. For this demonstration we will be trying to stay as true to the circle shape as possible. The circle will be the easiest shape to start with. You can get more creative after you try the circle a few times. At the end of this post I have listed a few other shape options that have been successful for me.
This photo shows you all the circle like shapes I have made. You can see I do not worry about perfection. One of the beautiful parts of this craft is that perfection need not be part of the equation. You can also see in the middle that I have cut off the corners of my square. No need to cut inside the box. Think of kindergarten when your teacher was trying to teach you to cut a circle for the first time. You folded that construction paper and simply sniped off the corners. This maximise your fabric usage. No need to waste all that fabric.
OK so here we are. This is the part of the project that will be new for most people. This is where the flowers are made or destroyed. It takes a try or two to get the hang of melting your fabric in just the right way. You will want to find a place with little or no draft. The flame is bound to dance around and move on you no matter what but the less air flow in the room the better. In the photo you see I am using a jar candle, you may want to think of a pillar or something that will melt down with the flame. We need to stay kinda close to the flame so a jar is not usually the best choice. This candle was new, and it was just lying around the house. So I try to follow the tip of the flame. The heat from the flame is best just about that tip. So if you can get the edge of your circle just to the hottest part of the flame you will see it start to melt. You want it to melt only just enough to keep the fabric from fraying and give your circle a little dimension. You will see what I am saying when you start to melt the fabric, it will also turn up a bit, or down a bit depending on how you hold it. This is not hard, but it takes a bit to get used to it. Have a few test scraps of fabric to try to get a hang of it. Above is a photo of what this fabric looked like when melted. This was a nice demo fabric because the melting is easy to see. Some fabrics will be less clear. Be sure to look, and feel the work as you are going.
I stopped in the middle of melting this one so you can see the difference between the melted edge and the raw edge.
No one is perfect. I mentioned earlier that the flame dances around no matter what you do, this is the result of that dancing flame. I was looking for the hot spot and I found it! This is just a throw away, grab a new circle and start over. You can also cut off the excess and use this circle as one of the smaller sizes if the burn isn’t too bad.
All of my circles have been melted. See how they turn up and they have also all developed their own unique shapes. Not all of the circles will be turned up the same direction. The melting can make them wavy, or one side will turn up one way the other side will turn up the opposite. It is your job to smooth the circle into the shape of a cup or a bowl.
Now you need to organize the circles into sizes. I like to lay out all of the melted circles. I lay them out and put the largest in one section and the smallest in another section. What ever is left over is the medium size. I than start laying the medium-sized circles into the large, and finally put the small circles into the medium circles, until they look the photo above. I lay them out like this because it is an easy to check and see if I have any left overs. For example maybe I have 6 medium-sized circles. I would cut down 4 of those and remelt them to make two additional flowers. Or you can just chuck them in the trash. Or save them to use with other fabrics.
OK, this is where the sewing starts. Please don’t be confused I am using 4 layers in the photo. I am doing this because I used 2 fabrics for this flower. I normally like to stick with odd numbers but I guess I made an exception for the contrast look. So lift up the top layers, leave the bottom layer alone right now.
You will need to have a threaded needle ready for you at this point. Just cut a length of thread and get in through the hole at the head of the needle. Tie a not at one of the ends of the thread. Next do just as the photo demonstrates. push the needle through all upper layers of fabric, until you see the needle on the other side, than push it back toward you so it comes back out very near the place it came in.
Pull the thread through until fabric is tight.
This is what it should look like in the front of the flower.
Bring that lower part of the flower back, it is time to sew him on. Stick the same needle and thread that is still attached to the upper flower part in through the approximate center of your lower petals and pull the thread through. Your needle and thread should be coming out the back of the flower at this point. I sew on the last petals like this because it helps to hide the knot at the end of the string. it makes the back look nicer. You can just sew them all together if you like but this is a nice finishing tip.
You can just pinch all your layers together now because we will be sewing through all thicknesses.
So just the same as your first stitch go in and out of all thicknesses.
end with thread coming out the back of the flower.
Time to add the center of the flower. Use any bead or button you would like. This is another area where creativity can flourish. I like seed beads. So you will want to push the needle through the back of the flower up through the front of the flower. This time leave the needle and thread coming out the center front of your flower. Get your center decoration I have chosen 3 seed beads(Law of 3). Pick up your seed beads and remember you need a small needle or a seed bead needle so that the small seed beads can pass over your needle with no trouble.
Once you have threaded your seed beads you need only to push the needle in through the same hole the thread is coming out of. Or at least close to it. Don’t leave a space.
Pull the thread through so that the needle and thread are coming out of the back of the flower. You can see in the photo the way the 3 beads are standing up in a pyramid formation. If you like this look you are good, just tie a not in the back and be finished. I however like those beads to lay down. So I am going to make that pyramid lay down.
So I now push the needle from the back of the flower up through the center. Now the needle and thread are coming out the front of the flower. Now just like the photo I thread the needle through the seed bead that is at the top of the pyramid. I than push the needle down through the fabric, right next to the now laying down top bead. Once I have pulled the thread all the way through the fabric until it is taught Your beads should be laying down.
The above photo shows the beads laying down. The thread is coming from the back of the flower.
Almost done now we just need to make a knot at the back of the flower. push the needle in, you only have to grab the bottom layer but no big deal if you get more than that. So push in and out the the lower layer, as small as you can get the stitch. The closer together the tighter the knot.
Pull the needle through until you have a loop like the one showing in the image above. Than you need to put the needle and thread through the loop you just made.
So that should be enough but I like to do it twice just for good measure. So push your needle in and out, this second time I usually just push through the knot that I have just made rather than pushing through the fabric at all. I make a loop and thread the needle in and out of the loop again. Pull tight.
Cut off your extra thread. Put your needle somewhere save so you don’t lose it. Especially if you are using a beading needle those things are so small they are begging to get lost.
This is my finished multi-colored flower.
So I promised some alternate shapes. This is a flower made with 3 layers of triangular shapes. It was not as easy to burn as I had hoped. The narrow points of the triangle were difficult to melt. I kept burning my fingers. So when you try this shape you may want to use a tweeter for the burning. This is also more of a twisted look, I bet it would work better in a jewel tone, on a costume for the evil step sister, or mother or well you get the point.
I also make some flowers with petal shapes. This is a slightly different process. I cut 5 petal for each layer. So there are still 3 layers but there are 5 fabric pieces for each layer. The front, center left petal is the large size I use for the lower level. The petal toward the top right are the smallest size I use for the top layer.
So I cut my shapes, and melted them as I showed earlier. This time I need to organize the petals in order to make a layer.
For all 3 layers I organize my 5 petals in a nice even-ish flower like pattern. Just like you see in the above photo.
Since there are 3 layers, I pin each layer to its self so I can just pile one layer on top of the other layer and sew through all thicknesses. Now when sewing this flower you will have to be sure you catch each and ever petal on each and every layer. Now part of the work is done for you in the laying out phase. If you look at the earlier photos notice that each petal is overlapping the last petal. This way I know when I start sewing I will catch-all the petals.
Seed beads are added in the same way the smaller flower was done, and thread is tied off just the same. This is the finished product. It is a little more than the smaller more simple flower.
So just to recap: Making a flower using a melting technique is as simple as cutting out fabric shapes in small, medium, and large. Melting the edges for shape and support. Sewing the pieces together, and finally adding embellishment and tieing off the thread. These are lovely little additions to any dress, shirt, purse, you name it. It is a fun easy craft I use all the time simply so I don’t have to waste any fabric. I hope you have fun working on this idea. Please help me out by leaving comments. I would love to get better at How-To Blogging. I need your help and comments to do that.