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Tattered Flowers for Embellishment

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These fabric flowers are all the rage and super easy to make. The tattered, or raw, edges mute the original fabric's design and give the flowers a vintage feel. Stitch a pin to the back, and you can add them to just about anything: pillows, aprons, jacket lapels, belts, headbands. They take just a tiny bit of fabric and are a great way to use up some of your too-small-for-anything-but-I-can't-bear-to-throw-away-this-gorgeous-fabric scraps.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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  • Scraps of your favorite fabrics: we used Color Defined Aqua and Brown Zebra Stripe from Faye Burgos for Marcus Brothers Fabrics, and two pieces from our leftover stash: Heather Bailey’s Bijoux in Gold Tiled Primrose, and Heather Bailey’s Pop Garden in Lime Sway
    NOTE: Each flower takes one strip 2” x apx. 45”. You could seam together smaller pieces to get a long enough strip. Use a ¼" seam if you decide to do that.
  • Small button for the flower’s center (optional): we used vintage buttons
  • All purpose thread to match
  • Hand sewing needle
  • Thimble (optional)
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

  1. Cut one strip 2” x apx. 45” for each flower.
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At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Fold in each short end of the strip ¼", wrong sides together, and press.
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  2. Fold the entire strip in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press.
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  3. Set your machine's stitch length for a long basting stitch.
  4. With the edge of your presser foot running along the folded edge of your strip, stitch the length of the strip. Do NOT back tack at the beginning or end.
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  5. Remove the stitched strip from your machine, leaving the thread tails long.
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  6. Pull the bobbin thread to gather the strip to about half its original size.
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  7. Use your fingers to even out the ruffles. Because the strip is so long, it tends to want to twist and turn. Before you start to 'roll' your flower, make sure your strip is untwisted.
  8. Thread a hand-sewing needle with thread that best matches your fabric.
  9. From one end, start to roll up the strip. Just like your making a cinnamon roll, only without the calories. The folded edge should be toward the center; the raw edges toward the outside.
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  10. Insert your hand needle and thread into the beginning of your roll, hiding the knot.
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  11. Continue rolling, stopping at each rotation to make a stitch with your needle and thread to secure the fabric into its spiral.
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  12. When you get to the end of the roll, take a few extra stitches to secure the end of the strip (because we folded in the edges when we originally pressed the fabric, the end of the strip is finished). Knot off your thread.
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    Back of flower

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    Front of flower
  13. Working from the front of the flower, spread out the spirals of the roll with your fingers – these have now become your flower's 'petals.' The more you pull apart the petals, the softer the flower appears.
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    NOTE: The original length of your strip and the tightness of your roll are the two things that determine the final look of your flower. Want a bigger flower? Use a longer strip. Want a softer, fluffier flower? Roll more loosely. Want a smaller flower? Reduce the length AND width of your original strip.
  14. The rolling technique makes a nice, neat center, so you don't have to use a button.
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  15. We like the extra dimensional accent the button provides, and so added one to ours. Simply spread out the spirals (the petals), and nest the button in the center. Stitch in place from front to back with your hand sewing needle.
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  16. The flower is now ready to be used as an embellishment. You can stitch it in place as-is, or attach a jewelry pin or safety pin to the back, which is what we did.
    NOTE: We decided on the safety pin option because our flower was going to be used as an embellishment on an item that might need to be washed. These flowers can NOT be washed, so we wanted ours to be able to be removed prior to laundering.
  17. Open up the safety pin (or jewelry pin) and whip stitch in place.
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  18. The name 'Tattered Flower' comes from the frayed raw edges. At this point, you can simply clip any long, dangling threads and call it good. Or, for more tatters, gently pull a few more threads from the raw edges, clipping as necessary.
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Other machines suitable for this project include the Elna Sew Fun and the Brother XL-2610.

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Comments (87)

lalita solomon said:
lalita solomon's picture
excellent !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WAS DYING TO LEARN THIS. THANKS
Annette Barron said:
Annette Barron's picture
I love these!!! I've been in the process of making a vibrant wall quilt with 3D flowers.
I was already adding various sizes of yo-yos, some layered, and with various objects for centers. I am now adding some of these beautiful flowers to it...
ohhh, I can see the finished quilt in my mind now...and its fabulous! LOL ->(*.*)
Turrilynn said:
Turrilynn's picture
This is one of the best tutorials I've seen on tattered fabric flowers. I'm getting ready to make burp cloths, shabby chic style, and instead of a ruffle on some of them, I'm going to attach these flowers! I think they will be fabulous. Thank you for such great inspiration!
Fiona & The Fig said:
Fiona & The Fig's picture
Another easy way to ruffle is to simply place a bamboo skewer at the back of your sewing foot, as you baste stitch, hold the skewer tighly in place, it will automatically ruffle the fabric.
MICA said:
MICA's picture
Gracias,pero muchas gracias por enseñarnos a hacer tantas cosas bonitas.
Kmer3257 said:
Kmer3257's picture
P.S. I used my pinking shears to give one of them a different look. I just used them to trim the edges before ruffling the fabric strip. Out of the five, I couldn't pick a favorite because each was a little different from the last.
Kmer3257 said:
Kmer3257's picture
I enjoyed making these so much that I ended up making five of them! They are so cute, and what a great use for fabric scraps! smilies/grin.gif
-Keri
Mellie said:
Mellie's picture
I just made a so cute denim purse and now I am going to make one of these flowers for a sweet embellishment. I like the bead idea for the center, I have a lot of them since I make jewelry also.
Janiegirl said:
Janiegirl's picture
These are great - tried them with wispy fabric with beads for center - outstanding - thanks for sharing
Mom4life said:
Mom4life 's picture
these would also be great if you attached a hair clip on underside to attach to hair, shoes, clothes, belts, headbands, and change up the materials into lighter and fancier scraps of material! This would be great for my little girls outfit and hair embelishments. Thanks for sharing with us. smilies/kiss.gif
MonaABOC said:
MonaABOC's picture
This sounds like the perfect excuse to FINALLY try out my ruffler foot! It's such an intimadating thing....I've had it for years and never used it. This is the perfect little project to do just that! Thank you!
conlmack said:
conlmack's picture
If you don't want them tattered...use the folded side as the top side. They look elegant. You can even use a little fiberfill to make them puffy & fun.
tday said:
tday's picture
these are the cutest ever going to make some today thanks for sharingsmilies/smiley.gif
Lenore Justman said:
Lenore Justman's picture
I use buttonhole thread in the bobbin when sewing gathers. It's stronger and easy to pull.
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi Liz B -- your idea might indeed make a fluffier flower. It's most dependent on the type of fabric you use. Even with the simple cottons, I choose, I could have easily continued to pull threads to fray the flowers more and more. I don't think cutting on the bias is necessary, that takes a lot more fabric. What I like about this flowers is they are a great use of thin scraps. Let us know how your idea turns out. Thanks!
Liz B said:
Liz B's picture
I love these flowers! Thanks so much for sharing. I was wondering if you made the strips wider, and cut the fabric on the bias, then washed the flowers in the washing machine, if they would look like cheneil? I was thinking it might make a really fluffy flower. Hmmm, guess I'll have to try it! smilies/smiley.gif
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi Carol H -- thanks for the blog post. I think it looks just dandy even without the button -- pretty fabric.
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi Life, Love, Green -- thanks so much for passing us along to your followers smilies/grin.gif
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Another great tip, ratherbesewing, plaid would be great for fall!!
carolynamartin2@gmail.com said:
carolynamartin2@gmail.com's picture
So cute! and you can use plaid wool for fall which also works well. Another way I like to 'ruffle' if you're ever using a heavier fabric and want to pull tighter-use dental floss. It's easy and it doesn't break (as sometimes your thread will when you pull to gather-this is how:
1. Set your machine stitch to a zig zag stitch just wide enough to 'cross over' the floss.
2. Pull out a piece of floss that is long enough to cover the expanse of what you want to ruffle (you can lessen the amount you use after you try it once)
3. Position your fabric to sew and lay your floss down on your fabric so that you can zigzag over the floss. Leave the floss length longer at the start so it hangs free. (I always lock the first & last zigzag stitches so they don't unravel)
4. Zigzag stitch the entire length of the fabric holding the floss w/one hand being careful not to catch it-much easier than it sounds!
5. When you're done, because you've left both floss ends free you can gather from both sides enabling you to adjust your gathers neatly and evenly and your thread won't break! Hope this was clear!
Mercy said:
Mercy's picture
Gracias por todo lo ensenado, les deseo muchos exitos.Dios los bendiga. Mercy desde Colombia-America del Sur.
Sew Baby said:
Sew Baby's picture
These are great, and I have a ruffler attachment for my machine, so it should be real easy! Thank you!
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
Hi Crafty Mummy - thanks for letting your blog readers know about sew4home! Have fun with the flowers.
jodieth said:
jodieth's picture
These are great. I have been seeing lots of them added to lapels and purses.
Jodie

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