November 1, 2008

Making a simple flower with flower making irons

A few years ago I took a (very short) course on making artificial flowers using special irons, and after the course I bought the full set of irons. I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t attempted to make a flower since, that is until this week. A small pattern hat I’ve been sewing (another variation of the one I created from a Plasticine shape) was in real need of some cheering up and I decided to try my hand at making a flower from the same fabric (a wonderful fabric by Gratacós). Unfortunately this fabric is not made fully of natural fibers, so I’ve had to be very careful with the iron temperature (too hot and the fabric would simply melt).

I’m no expert in making flowers, but here are some pictures of the process and of the results, as well as the pattern. Click here to get the PDF of the pattern. The pattern is loosely based on a pattern from a Japanese book, you can check it out at this link.

First thing to do is to brush the fabric with hat stiffener (the chemical smelling/bad stuff), make sure you do it on a ventilated room or outdoors. In my case I cut circles slightly larger than the pattern and then brushed the stiffener. Hang the fabric outside to dry (the stiffener will evaporate).

Once the fabric is dry one has to cut the flower pattern pieces (3 large ones and 4 small ones). Notice that one of the petal cuts goes all the way to the center which will allow us to overlap one end over the other (one petal over the other).

Now it’s the time to bring out the flower making iron and the cotton fabric covered rubber base (I bought this foam rubber base along with the irons, and covered it with cotton fabric). The rubber base is springy and allows us to push down with the iron and get the right shape.

Because my fabric is not made of natural fibers I had to be extremely careful with the temperature of the iron. It’s better to start with a lower temperature and build up . I pushed down on the center of each petal and then on the center of the flower. When pushing down the iron on the fabric the result will be an indentation that gives the petals a three dimensional feel.

My flower is made in three sections. The center section is composed of one large and two small pieces. Start with a small piece, overlapping the ends, wrap a second small piece around and finally the large piece. Make it so the overlapped pieces fall on different sides. Pin in place. The lateral sections are made in a similar way to the center one but using only one small and one large piece. these are squashed and put at each side giving the flower a nice effect of volume. Pin, arrange, and when you’re happy with the result, sew in place.

To finish off the flower nicely I made a small pad of stiff interfacing covered in the same fabric., the idea was to sew the flower to the wrong side of the pad, making it more stable and easier to sew onto the hat.

Because the result with just the flower was a little bit too classic for my taste I added a halo of biot feathers. These are strips of goose feathers that come sewn in a ribbon and are sold by the meter/yard. Because they are on this ribbon base they are easy to sew onto projects. I sewed the feathers first and then the flower, underneath is the good side of the pad.

The result on the hat is stunning, I will soon post a picture of the finished hat.

39 Comments »

  1. Lovely!! I’ve visited flower making shops in New York and Paris and would like to share their use of common household starch. What they do is place fabric on large square frames with nails, then paint the fabric – usually silk – with starch and let it dry until quite stiff. Then the fabric is dismantled from the frames and the flower pieces are cut and shaped. This way you avoid the toxic fumes.

    I have also experimented with Steam-a-Seam which adheres lightly to fabrics (on both sides) and can be peeled off until properly placed. Once you iron it the fabric becomes quite stiff. Marvelous for some uses. If you cannot get Steam-a-Seam in Spain let me know and I will send you some from here.

    Love your Blog Lessons!

    K Q:-)

    Comment by Kate — November 7, 2008 @ 12:19 am

  2. Thanks! I love your blog, I learn something new every time. I’ll be adding a link to my blog!

    Comment by pretty penny designs — November 7, 2008 @ 1:25 am

  3. que buena pinta tiene esa flor!. ¿Un brochecito?

    Comment by la prima — November 7, 2008 @ 11:56 am

  4. You are really marvelous and so sophisticated! I’ve been following your blog for a few months now and you just get better and better.

    Comment by Montez — November 7, 2008 @ 8:47 pm

  5. Cristina.- que bonito trabajo, de veras. A mi me encantan las flores como adorno en los vestidos. A veces he encargado hacer alguna y me gusta mucho este estilo de flor etérea realizado en telas como muselina o gasa que le dan un aspecto marchito. Quedo impaciente de verla colocada en el sombrero. Un abrazo y hasta pronto.

    Paco

    Comment by Paco Peralta — November 8, 2008 @ 9:25 pm

  6. Kate,

    Thank you for the insight on how the professional houses do it. I wonder what kind of starch we have available in Spain (I will look it up). Also the idea of putting the fabric on a frame seems like a very good idea, particularly with delicate fabrics.

    Steam-a-Seam sounds like an interesting product… do you need to use two layers of fabric then, or does it embed into the fabric giving it stiffness without the need to stick two layers together? We definitely don’t have anything like that here, so we will have to do an exchange (think of something from this side of the Atlantic that you would like to have!).

    Cristina

    Comment by cristinadeprada — November 9, 2008 @ 2:35 pm

  7. Penny, thanks for your kind words. You’re very welcome to link to my blog.

    Prima, esta flor va a un sombrero, pero si quieres una, ya sabes, hacemos un intercambio!

    Paco, a ver si me atrevo a hacer flores con seda de esas etéreas. La posibilidad de colorearlas a mano para darles un aspecto más sutil me atrae tambien mucho, tengo un par de libros japoneses (con muchas fotos, afortunadamente) donde se explica… ya veremos!

    Comment by cristinadeprada — November 9, 2008 @ 3:04 pm

  8. Hi Montez,

    Thanks for saying those nice things, people comments really do cheer me up!

    I’ve visited your blog, and I really recommend it to everyone! How come you didn’t have a single comment in there?!!! Are people crazy?!! I hope people start visiting it in drones because you deserve it! Those hats are awsome!

    Everyone, visit this blog NOW: http://chapeaudujour.blogspot.com/

    Cristina

    Comment by cristinadeprada — November 9, 2008 @ 3:52 pm

  9. WOW! Thanks so much for sharing the process … it is amazing the lengths you go to for beauty!

    Comment by amy beth — November 13, 2008 @ 8:59 am

  10. Hi Cristina, love your flowers and have started making silk flowers myself recently using the metal tools. I use diluted PVA glue to stffen mine and that works well. And no nasty fumes.
    So sorry to hear about all your family problems, I hope all will be resolved soon x

    Comment by Cath — November 13, 2008 @ 2:52 pm

  11. Where do you find those crazily amazing irons? I’m fascinated!! Must learn more!

    Comment by Emily Moe — November 14, 2008 @ 6:22 am

  12. Wonderful Cristina!

    Comment by Blanca del Piñal — November 14, 2008 @ 11:01 am

  13. Hi everyone,

    The tools can be bought at Berry Rutjes website. She’s a dutch millinery and she offers flower and hatmaking classes. Here is the link: http://www.berryrutjes.com/EN/toolshop.html

    Also, the latest Hat Magazine has an article about making flowers out of velvet. Really interesting!

    Hope this helps those that want to get the tools.

    Cristina

    Comment by cristinadeprada — November 20, 2008 @ 7:08 pm

  14. […] promised to show you the flower on the hat, and here it is. This is one of the hats I’m bringing to Madrid for the Hat week. […]

    Pingback by The rantings of a MAD HATTER wannabe… » Fabric flower hat — November 21, 2008 @ 11:33 pm

  15. Great tutorial! Do you use a natural fiber bag fileld with sand to hep cup the flowers? I read somewhere that works real well. I haven’t tried this type of flower making…yet. AS for stiffeners, try the powdered shellac that comes from Mantrose Hauser (they are based in USA).

    Comment by Sayra Adams, Hatdiva — November 28, 2008 @ 12:13 am

  16. Sayra,

    I have a rectangular piece of rubber foam that I bought from the lady that gave the course. I’ve covered it with a cotton cloth. But on the hat exhibition in Madrid they had a table with all tools related to flower making and there they had a cushion like you’re describing, filled with sand.

    Here’s a picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/63536356@N00/3063661251/in/set-72157608940620896/

    I’ve never used shellac, I should try!

    Cristina

    Comment by cristinadeprada — November 28, 2008 @ 11:46 pm

  17. If you’re interested in making flowers with this technique I recommend you read this posting by Allie, she has experimented with different fabrics and gives some wonderful insight into the process: http://alliesinstitches.blogspot.com/2009/03/millinery-flower-experiments.html

    She has done some beautiful flowers using diferent types of fabric, worth a visit!

    Comment by cristinadeprada — June 2, 2009 @ 12:20 pm

  18. Hi,

    I’m based in the UK and am keen to find where I can buy flower irons. I can’t seem to find any outlets here where these are for sale and the only other site I have seen is based in the USA where I have seen an electric version. Can anyone tell me where I can obtain these?

    Comment by Shane — June 10, 2009 @ 10:36 am

  19. Hi Shane,
    As I mentioned in a comment above it can be bought at the web store of the wonderful Dutch Milliner Berry Rutjes:
    http://www.berryrutjes.com/EN/toolshop.html
    That’s the only supplier in Europe that I know.
    Cristina

    Comment by cristinadeprada — June 10, 2009 @ 11:03 am

  20. hello

    i just found your blog and you make a great job !
    i’m a flower maker too ( i make kanzashi)
    and i’d like to know where did you buy the tool to make the flowers like you did.
    can you help me ? thanks a lot

    Comment by karuna — October 18, 2009 @ 12:08 pm

  21. I love your blog. It always has the answers I’m looking for.

    Thanks,
    Lana

    Comment by Lana — January 5, 2010 @ 4:24 pm

  22. Wonderful blog!

    Does anyone have a great site to purchase the tools? Does anyone know of a store in Canada that sells these tools?
    What are you thoughts on the French tools and Japanese (electric tools)?

    Thank you in advance for your assistance!

    Comment by Irene — March 15, 2010 @ 7:05 pm

  23. Thank you Lana for your kind comment.

    Irene, I only know of the Dutch supplier I mention on the comments above. No idea about Canada. But I believe http://www.lacis.com has both the traditional and the electric tools. I have not tried the electric tools although they look interesting, why not get those and let me know your experience with them!

    Comment by cristinadeprada — March 18, 2010 @ 5:52 pm

  24. I bought my electric iron from etsy for under $40.00 USD. Lasis does have the tools as well. They also have stiffener. Just remember with the electric iron, to turn it off frequently because there is no heat regulator. I have been working with the electric iron and it has been great so far, though I would like more tips for petal shaping.

    Comment by DionneSimone — March 26, 2010 @ 3:49 pm

  25. hallo Cristina
    I very much enjoyed the caminata today. Thank you very much. I am at the moment a student of Nina and learning the art of making turbanes and tocados. I am a florist leaving in Barcelona and lately have been atracted to silken flowers and tocados.
    Is there a place in Barcelona where I could learn how to make silken flowers?
    I also enjoyed reading your blog.
    Have a nice afternoon. It was also a pleasure getting to know your mother indeed very active despite that she was not feeling very great.
    Kindest regards,
    marie-claire

    Comment by marie-claire ghali — April 11, 2010 @ 4:28 pm

  26. Hi Marie Claire,
    Thank you for your kind comments, I think everybody had a great time in the Passejada amb Barret of this year and we had a wonderful weather.
    Regarding making silk flowers I believe la Escola de la Dona (http://www.diba.cat/francescabonnemaison/ed/default.asp) has (or has had at some point in time) a flower making course called “La flor dins l’accessori de la moda”. I suggest you give them a call and find out.
    And… let me know!
    Kind regards,
    Cristina

    Comment by cristinadeprada — April 13, 2010 @ 8:47 pm

  27. I got my flower tools of ebay Australia in March this year.I would like to be able to buy a book on how to use them and also show you different flowers to make.Do you know of any.Enjoy your blogs.

    Regards Fionnuala

    Comment by Fionnuala Eastwood — April 20, 2010 @ 11:34 pm

  28. Hi!

    I enjoyed reading your blog a lot:) I am now thinking about buying tools for making flowers and have found this image of your tools. i quite like them! Could you please recommend any place (online, or the UK) where i can buy this type of a set? or maybe used set as I know it can be quite expensive.

    thanks a lot:)

    Comment by Tatiana — December 22, 2010 @ 2:17 pm

  29. Hi,
    I’m glad you’re enjoying my blog. I have not posted in a while, but there’s a lot of material in there to go an read 🙂
    Check out my comments to this post, you’re not the only one asking the very same thing and I’ve already answered!
    Happy holidays and flower making!
    Cristina

    Comment by cristinadeprada — December 22, 2010 @ 2:20 pm

  30. Congratulation, with all the information and comments, of flowers, I also like to make folwers, and decorate in hats.THANKS.

    Comment by Mme. Carmen Touzé — January 6, 2011 @ 9:10 pm

  31. Hi, do you where can i take a course or go to workshops about french silk floers in New York????
    Thanks! Your blog is great!
    Daniela

    Comment by Daniela — February 22, 2012 @ 11:25 am

  32. Hi Daniela,
    I am sorry, but I don’t have a clue!
    Wishing you luck,
    Cristina

    Comment by cristinadeprada — February 22, 2012 @ 12:35 pm

  33. Dear Christina…
    Let me be of help a bit here…

    FRENCH FLOWER MAKING TOOLS
    Just search- “French flower making tools”
    Sets run in the $200 to $300 range for a full set…depending size and age.

    A) Professional millinery company. Torb & Reiner, Australia
    http://www.torbandreiner.com/online-shop-1/millinery-tools/flower-tools

    B) Lacis, fabulous millinery shop in Berkeley, California, USA.
    Carries the modern professional ELECTRIC TOOLS.
    http://lacis.com/catalog/data/AE_FlowerTools.html

    C) USA company …search the “Clover” company for a cheap electric alternative.

    D) Sellers in the USA
    Go on ebay.com
    Just go in and search … “French flower making tools” … several will pop up. Old and new.

    PRICING
    Good luck… cry tears and just buy them! They are never priced at a low price!

    Jeane

    Comment by Jean Carte — July 2, 2012 @ 6:59 pm

  34. Dear Jeane,
    It’s very sweet of you to supply that information, I’m sure itwillcome in handy to those lookig for tools.
    As you can see I do have my own set, but people keepon asking where to buy them!
    Kind regards,
    Cristina

    Comment by cristinadeprada — July 2, 2012 @ 7:48 pm

  35. Hello Cristina,
    Thank you for your wonderful blog.
    Just to let your readers know that I have purchased a set of 7 traditional flower making tools from torbandreinner.com as suggested by Jean.
    I was aslo thinking of buying a set with the electric iron, from lacis – Just wanting to check if this was a reputable company as I am from Australia.
    Thank you
    Jill

    Comment by Jill — September 8, 2012 @ 11:02 am

  36. Hi Jill,
    I’m glad you like my blog!
    Yes, Lacis is a well known supplier with a good reputation as far as I know. Keep in mind that the voltage in the US is 115v, in Spain is 230v so I wouldnt be able to use it here.
    Let us know how it works if you buy it!

    Comment by cristinadeprada — September 8, 2012 @ 12:51 pm

  37. Hi Crisitina,
    Thank you so much for your reply regarding Lacis and the tip about the voltage ( I think the J40 model is 240 volts -but I will check it out again)
    I will let you know if I purchase one and how it performs.
    Cheers
    Jill

    Comment by Jill — September 10, 2012 @ 3:39 pm

  38. Please,where can I purchase the iron tools?

    Comment by Janice Jones — September 25, 2012 @ 11:01 pm

  39. Hi Janice!! You’re not the first (or second) to ask this! Check the other comments and you will find more than one reply!

    Comment by cristinadeprada — September 25, 2012 @ 11:10 pm

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