Last year, I went with a few friends to a class where we learned to make Kanzashi flowers, aka fabric flowers. It was easy to learn, and I love how they can adorn simple projects to give them some funk. Another bonus: they don’t take a lot of materials to make. I’ve been using them a lot lately.
So, here’s my attempt at a tutorial on how to make them in case you’d like to try.
fabric (use scraps…you don’t need much)
rotary cutter and mat (or scissors and a ruler…but the mat and cutter make it much easier)
heavy duty thread
beads, buttons (or something else you’d like to use for the center of the flower)
I’ll show you how I made the bright pink one pictured below.
Start by cutting fabric. I cut nine, two-inch squares with a rotary cutter and mat.
The first step is to start folding each individual piece. Step one: fold one fabric square in half, so it creates a triangle. Press the seam with your fingers.
Then, fold each side of the triangle in to meet at the top point of the triangle. You’ll now have two more folds. Press seams with your fingers.
Now, pick up the piece of fabric and fold it back in half. You’ll be exposing the side that was facing up.
Two more folds and you’re done with this piece. Take each flap that is currently pointing down, and fold it up so that it just crosses over the top of the fabric.
Insert a straight pin in the center of the piece, making sure to capture all of the fabric. Set aside, and fold the remaining pieces of fabric in the exact same way.
IMPORTANT: everyone will fold the fabric differently, but it’s important that you stay consistent with your method. Otherwise, your petals will look uneven.
Once you’ve folded each piece of fabric, you’ll need to cut off the excess fabric. NOTE: You’re cutting the rough edges, not the pointed edge. Before I start cutting, I usually make sure all of my petals are pointing the same direction, and I’m always cutting to the right of my straight pin. You’ll cut about 1/3 of the fabric off.
I always take care to insert my straight pins in the same spot on each petal. That way, I can cut in the same spot on each without having to make adjustments.
Now that all of your petals are cut, it’s time to thread them together. Thread a needle with heavy duty thread. It’s important that the thread is thick, because you’ll be doing some tugging on it, and you don’t want it to break. Another option is to double or quadruple your thread, if you don’t have heavy duty on hand.
You don’t need much thread. Maybe one arm’s length from wrist to elbow (or so). Once your needle is threaded, tie off the end to keep the loose ends in check.
Start threading each petal. IMPORTANT: again, make sure you use the exact same method with each petal. So, insert the needle in the same spot on each, and make sure all petals are facing the same direction.
Once you have all petals on your thread, we’ll be tying a surgeon’s knot to pull them together.
Pull TIGHT on each side of the thread, until you get a nice and snug circle of petals.
Keep it snug, and tie another knot to secure it in place.
You now have your basic flower shape. You’ll notice, though, that the petals may need some love for them to look uniform. This is when the glue, toothpicks and tweezers come in handy.
I usually put a dab of E-6000 glue in between each petal. Careful with E-6000. It’s super powerful (and better than hot glue…DO NOT use hot glue…it’ll come apart eventually). I typically dab a bit of the glue onto the toothpick, and use the toothpick to spread it on the fabric. I then hold the petal sides together with tweezers until it’s mostly dry. Meanwhile, I shape and fluff the petals as needed.
Here’s a couple pictures showing the gluing process on a different flower.
Once the petals look good, figure out how you want to finish the flower. I like using buttons for the center. You could also roll up a small strip of fabric. Beads work too. Sometimes I use scraps of fabric to give it more texture. Depending on what you decide, you’ll need to glue or sew it in place…or both.
And, you’re done!
To give you an idea for sizing: the larger green/yellow flower at the bottom left was made using 3″ squares. The three medium-sized flowers (beige w/ yellow center, bright pink and pink/beige pattern) were all made using 2″ squares. And, the smaller greenish flower (on the green hat) was made using 1″ squares.
My recommendation: start large. If you’re making your first flower, I’d make one with 3″ squares. It’s a lot easier to work with a larger piece of fabric.
This is just one style of kanzashi flowers (fabric flowers). It’s the only one I’ve mastered so far, and I’m looking forward to learning some others. Neat.