As a little girl, I liked to watch my mother get dressed up to go someplace special. On the top shelf of her closet, she kept a round, paper-covered hatbox. Inside were a half dozen lovely millinery-quality flower pins, each carefully wrapped in tissue. The finishing touch was pinning a flower to her dress or the lapel of her jacket. My favorite was a big rose-colored peony flower made of woven fabric with several pale green, ribbon-wrapped stems.
The fresh blooms of Spring are always an inspiration. Celebrate by creating your own custom flower to wear on your jacket, in your hair, or pinned to your bag. We chose yellow for our pretty pop of color, one of the season’s trendy “citrus colors,” as well as a beautiful blush pink. Go bold and showy or soft and subtle – just like nature itself.
The photo below shows an assortment of the kinds of scraps that work well for this style of flower. For the petals, we show several poly lining fabrics and cotton batiste, but other woven fabrics are fine as long as the fabric is not too heavy and has a some body. For the leaves, you can use burlap, linen, felt, velveteen or even a pretty cotton print. You could also purchase a little bit of lace or netting to make the flower dressier – perfect for bridal accessories. Take a look at the fablous selection of vintage-style rayon ribbon we used courtesy of The Ribbon Retreat.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
NOTE: The sewing machine is used only for making a gathering stitch. You can also gather by hand if you prefer.
Fabric and Other Supplies
- ONE 2″ wide x 44/45″ long strip (selvege-to-selvege); we used pastel cotton batiste for our flowers
- One yard of lightweight ribbon; we used Vintage Ribbon-Rayon from The Ribbon Retreat
NOTE: For the yellow flower we used 037 Avocado and for the pink flower 070 Lizard Green. This ribbon comes in more than 80 colors, and at just 90¢ for 5 yards, you can really stock up. It’s great to have on hand for all kinds of sewing and craft projects.
- Felt circles for backing; we used the 1¾” Felt Circles from The Ribbon Retreat in white
- A scrap of slightly stiffer fabric for the leaves; we used burlap for the yellow flower and linen for the pink flower
- Beads, a button, an old earring or a small brooch for the center for the flower; we used Swarovski crystal beads and crystal pearls from our supply cabinet, but any beads you like should work fine. Just be sure your needle will slide through the bead hole without getting stuck, or use a beading needle.
- Needle and thread; we used white thread so it would not show on the back of the pin
- One 1¼” pin back
- Straight pins
Assemble the Flower
- From your strip of fabric, cut random petal shapes as shown in the photo below. Being precise is unnecessary; the flowers will actually look better if they are not overly perfect. We used our thumb as a rough cutting guide.
- By hand or machine, sew a gathering stitch about ¼” in along the entire straight edge. Secure one end only.
- Gather by pulling on the thread (if you used a machine basting stitch, pull on the bobbin thread) until the length of the gathered edge is about 18″.
- Cut two leaves about 3″ long x 1″ wide. Again, it’s unnecessary to be precise, free-form cutting works great.
- Tie your ribbon in a big loopy bow and pin the ribbon and leaves to what will be the inside of the felt circle.
- Pin the end of the petal strip to the outer edge of the felt circle. Thread your hand sewing needle with thread to match the felt. Wrap your thread around the pin to secure.
- Wrap your petal strip around the felt circle, spiraling smaller each time as you overlap the previous layer of petals. Use a simple running stitching to attach the strip to the felt. Keep your stitches as small as possible.
- When you are done wrapping, the front of the flower should look like this:
- The back of the flower should look like this:
Finish Your Flower
- If you use just one bead, button or other element, simply center it and sew securly to the flower. If you use multiple beads as we did, arrange them first to see how they fit before sewing them in place. We show one large and 4 smaller Swarovski crystal pearls, and 4 faceted crystal beads. (For the yellow flower, we used all crystal pearls.)
- Sew the pin back to the flower. Attach it towards the upper end of the felt circle so it won’t tend to droop once pinned.
- Wet your hands and dampen just the ribbon, then crush it in your fist for a few moments. This will give it a nice vintage look. Set aside until the ribbon has dried. Once dry, you can trim the ribbon a bit if you think it needs it. Ribbon shown wet in the photo just below and dry in the photos above.
Hints and Tips
Rather than attaching a pin back you could sew the flower to a headband or comb. It can also be pinned to a belt or bag for a pretty accent. These flowers can be made larger or smaller by shortening or lengthening the starting petal strip and increasing or decreasing the size of the felt circle. You can also make them fancier by adding some millinary netting, bits of lace, etc.
Project design, sample creation and instructional outline: Alicia Thommas.