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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.



Comments (87)

Lynda Criswell said:
Lynda Criswell's picture

It would help if the instructions could be printed separate from the illustrations to save paper.  

We don't need 30 pages when 2 will work.

Liz Nilsen said:
Liz Nilsen's picture

If you don't want the pictures, all you need to do, after you have copied the instructions into a Word document, is to right click on each picture, then choose "Delete" or "Cut" and the picture will be gone. If you want to keep picture(s) separately, then right click on the main document and choose "Copy" then "Paste" onto a separate document.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Linda - Our instructions and images go hand-in-hand, which is why we offer our PDFs as we do. The good news is that the projects itself is free to the user. 

hamish said:
hamish's picture

i usually cut a circle of felt and sew or glue on the back, just to tidy it up.  you can also crochet a small circle in cotton to tidy the back up.

Patty M said:
Patty M's picture

I like this idea. Will certainly use for a fresh look to jackets and as hair accessories. Thank you for sharing.

Forest said:
Forest's picture

Your instructions and pictures are absolutely understandable and simple.  Thank you for that.

mary logsdon said:
mary logsdon's picture

thanks for the pattern.  i have been looking for an easy flower to make and i think i have found it.  i am going to try one out of burlap.  instead of cutting the burlap, pull one of the strings where you want the width and you have the perfect raw edges.  thanks again

Mary Ellen said:
Mary Ellen's picture

So pretty!  What about ripping the strips rather than cutting for an even more tattered look?  

Plenty said:
Plenty's picture

Perfectamente ilustrado.  Felicidades! Voy a hacerlas inmediatamente!

Rita McCart said:
Rita McCart's picture

Happy Easter! Thank you so much this is absolutly perfect! :)

Rosalee said:
Rosalee 's picture

Thanks for such clear directions with pictures and words. Am anxious to try them to teach in Mexico to the ladies.

Trisha said:
Trisha's picture

If you don't have a sewing machine can you skip that step or do you suggest sewing by hand.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Trisha - you can gather without a sewing machine, however, with a strip this long, be patient... it will take a while and you probably want to do your long running stitches in sections - gathering and then knotting each section in place, then moving on to the next.

khadija said:
khadija's picture

i made this flower on my daughter cloth its looking awesome  every one appriciate thanks for teaching


lynn smith said:
lynn smith's picture

i am gonna try this flower pattern i make hairbows let you know how they turn out thanks


crazycraftgirl said:
crazycraftgirl's picture

I made 2 of these last night and my girls were fighting over them this morning.  THANKS!  I love them.

Linda Walker said:
Linda Walker's picture

Thanks for this pattern. I will be experimenting with this pattern. I will let you know how it turns out.

Anonymous said:
Anonymous's picture

Hi All. In addition to using the 'back' (folded) side or pinking shears for an alternate look you can also use fabric cut on the bias. I make them this way bcs they are rough cut without shedding long hairs or showing a line where the threads are pulled out. 

Tackysewer932 said:
Tackysewer932's picture
These are so adorable!!! I will try to try one next when I have time!!!! (Me and my super busy lifesmilies/wink.gif)
Rag Dolls Rising said:
Rag Dolls Rising's picture
thanks for these instructions, I'm making hair clips with mine!
gail warwick said:
gail warwick's picture
what a cool tutorial! explained and illustrated very well. thanks!
Kat Hamill said:
Kat Hamill's picture
I was so happy to find this flower today! I had made a clutch and when putting in the snap, hit the fabric and made a tiny hole (noticeable) on the front flap. What a perfect way to cover an imperfection!!! Thanks so much!
Jaanice said:
Jaanice's picture
I love these flowers. Have made some years ago but lost the pattern. I am so glad to have it again Thank you
Ellen. said:
Ellen.'s picture
Thankyou for the tutorial! I am going to hand sew these using quilting thread. My machine is not working well these days. My goal is to fill eight vases with fabric flowers by the end of April. My church tea party theme is "the colors of spring".
With all the fabric I have stashed away the colors should be wonderful! (~.~)
Lanetta's Creations said:
Lanetta's Creations's picture
Thank you for sharing this great technique to embellish all types of items!
Ethel Kelley said:
Ethel Kelley's picture
I'M just getting back into crafts and sewing. This will make a perfect red flower for my Red Hat Ladies Club. Also we have one birthday party a year to exchange gifts. These could make wonderful gifts. Thanks
Linda L. said:
Linda L.'s picture
Love these! I've been doing them from the other side, the raw side. I like this idea of gathering on the fold instead. Thanks! Found this on allfreesewing.com (one of my favorites to browse for ideas).
Jackie Fields said:
Jackie Fields's picture
These flowers can be used as embellishments on journals and greeting cards. I love making the journals and cards and am always looking for different ways of making the flowers for both of them. Thank you so much for the information.
Kim Petroske said:
Kim Petroske's picture
Super cute. I'm going to make up a bunch for the granddaughter, 2. They would be so cute pinned on her dresses or hats or coat. Funsmilies/smiley.gif
Kathy-Ann M said:
Kathy-Ann M's picture
cute idea I just made these but since I am new to crafting I didn't have any cute buttons. I used what material I had on hands. Thanks for posting!smilies/smiley.gif
Faith Simpson said:
Faith Simpson's picture
Hi! My friend sent me a link for this site a while ago and i decided to try it out. I found the perfect gift for my mother, a sea salt body scrub tutorial. But when i went back today to find it it was gone, i really would love to make this for her. If anyone knows the link please let me know, i know she would love it as a present smilies/smiley.gif
Faith Simpson said:
Faith Simpson's picture
Hi! my friend sent me a link for this site and i found the perfect home made gift for my mom, it was a sea salt body scrub but when i went back to look for it today it was gone. I searched everywhere for the tutorial. Can anyone help me out? It would be the perfect Christmas present for her smilies/smiley.gif
The flowers are GREAT. I can"t wait to try them. I worked at a fabric store for 25 years so needless to say I have tons of fabric and vintage buttons. I can't wait to try my hand at this craft. Great job soooo talented.smilies/smiley.gif
Jett-son said:
Jett-son's picture
Thanks for the tutorial. Easy instructions! This would be a good project for young/new sewers. This is a great way to change out your accessories here in sunny Florida! smilies/cool.gif
Sherry Waldo said:
Sherry Waldo's picture
I make homemade hobo purses for friends, family and resale. These will look great on the flap. I usually add an antique button but this just will add another dimension and look. Plus whoever has the purse and chooses to wear the flower on her lapel can do so. Thanks for the directions.
Bonnie Rae said:
Bonnie Rae's picture
Lovely idea to add to my purse insert organizer needin that something!
Bonnie Rae said:
Bonnie Rae's picture
Your generous flower ideas make expanding a floral look so inspiring... such as by the use of machine decorative stitching along the chosen edge. Also, even my shorter scraps did not go to waste as they became a flower with tucked in raw ends. We thrifty sewists can find joy in simple pleasures. Now I can add a flower to a purse insert organizer(needing something else)that was just made last night. Thanks so much!
Bonnie, TX :-)