Monday, October 31, 2011

A New Technique for Making Fabric Flower Embellishments

Happy Halloween
Bwa,ha,ha… Halloween has to be just about my favorite holiday. I mean, what is there not to love?
Great Colors: Black, Silver, Orange, Purple and Green…check
Witches, ghosts, and Edward Cullen…check
Pumpkin Spice Latte…check
Pumpkin anything with cream cheese…check

Yep, everything is D.I.V.I.N.E and fun, fun, fun….

Raise your hand if you can't believe it is Halloween already!  Ok... now raise your hand if you have any Christmas/Hanukkah shopping done (my hand is proudly waving and shouting "ME").  I NEVER plan ahead and get my shopping started this early, but something got me going this year. I can't promise that I won't be the last one in the mall or on pins and needles waiting for Fed Ex to arrive at the last minute on 12/24/11, but I am happy to say I have a few gifts purchased. It gets complicated in our house because we celebrate Hanukkah as well as Christmas and 2 of the 4 family members have December birthdays (before my dad died we had his birthday on the 26th to celebrate as well). December is ONE big, never-ending, happy, happy celebration at our house.  Time will start to fly by from now on.  So many Christmas projects to get done…so little time… Until then, here is a short tutorial I Posted on DIY Kinda Girl a few weeks ago. 
Fabric Flower with a Twist:  A Tutorial

Everyone is making fabric flowers these days.  If you don't make our own you can certainly purchase them from a jillion crafters of Etsy.  There are even products made specifically for fabric flower making…. heard of the Gluber?  If you haven't, let me enlighten you….a Gluber is a product by Cosmo Cricket that is a big glob of glue that becomes the base of a fabric flower.  Easy Peasy.  

You will need:
Fabric: I used Wool Felt, Satin, Organza
Tulle in a coordinating or contrasting color
Sewing needle and thread that matches your fabric
Beads or Swarovski Crystals
Fabri-Tac or other fabric glue
Flower Dies
Candle and match
 I started with a nice black felt- the thicker the felt the better the results…Wool Felt is best, silver organza, and orange satin.  
I cut the flower shapes using my Vagabond using Sizzix die's Flower Layers, Flower Layers #9, and Bats and Tim Holtz Alterations Tattered Florals.
I also used some Tulle. I purchased this roll at Michael's in the Wedding's section.  I prefer this rolled tulle because it is easier to deal with AND it stretched and ripped better….I'll explain that later.  
Fold the Tulle several times 
and free-hand cut circles slightly larger than the blossoms.
The felt won't unravel making it very easy to work with.  The satin and organza unravel A LOT making it more difficult to work with but it IS worth the effort.  To stop the satin and organza for unraveling I  burned the edges….carefully.  Sometimes the raveled look is desired but the orange satin I used was disintegrating and had to be melted. 
The trick is to seal the edges without charring or burning them.  This activity is for adults only and the slower and more careful the better…two things I'm not so good at.  Remember to use tweezers for smaller pieces.  You can see and feel when the edges are sealed; after I think I have it all sealed, I like to run my fingers around the petal to double check.  Hint* I've learned, the hard way, that it is possible to cut off a small charred piece- just remember to remelt the edges. 
To add texture to the piece I like to grab the petals along the edges and slowly melt the center of the petal in a haphazard fashion which gives it a rippled texture. 
I start layering with one of the big blossoms then add a layer of tulle.
 I continue layering the petals and the tulle, using smaller and smaller petals, ending with a small felt petal.  Once I like the arrangement, I sew it together using a sewing needle and matching thread.  Always place a knot at the end of the thread and sew from the bottom through all the layers toward the top.  I always go back and forth a few times  and knot off the thread on the bottom of the flower.  I then repeat the process of adding a knot to the end of the thread, start at the bottom of the flower and sew to the top.  Now I add the bead(s), one at a time, to the top of the flower.  Add a bead, sew all the way through to the bottom and go back up and out a little bit away from the previous bead.  Add a second bead and repeat going down…repeat again to add a 3rd bead.  Knot off the thread on the back.  If you add a Swarovski crystal it is important to use a very strong thread, I use Firewire brand, because the Swarovski will cut regular thread. You will also probably need a special bead needle to get through a Swarovski bead.
This is how it should look at this point. 
 Now because this is Halloween I wanted the tulle to look scary.  I grabbed the tulle and pulled and ripped it- gently.  If I got a big blob, I simply cut it and shape it until I was pleased with the look…. well as pleased as one can be with scary, witchy, tulle.
The finished flower.
A more obviously Halloween flower using the orange satin heated across the entire petal to add texture, alternating with the black felt and tulle.  I used one vintage button in the centre. 
A flower with more layers than the previous flowers, using petals from all 3 dies.
The felt bats I used on the flower below.
The final black and orange flower I made doesn't have any tulle, but I added a felt bat at the end, gluing it in place with Fabri-Tac.
A black felt and silver organza flower.  This organza melts perfectly and it is easy to add texture. Again I used petals from all 3 dies. 
Although it looks similar, this is not the same flower.  I love the black and silver pieces and they are not limited to Halloween. 
The Twist! 
The last step is what makes this flower a little different…a twist if you will. Instead of adding a pin back or adding the flower to a headband, I added a product Aleene's called Tack-It Over & Over.
The directions call for painting a thin layer using a brush but I just blobbed out a somewhat thick layer.  I've found the thin layer stop sticking after a time or two. 
I used the tip of the bottle to spread it around a little and let it dry overnight.  It turns clear and tacky to touch when it is dry.  The bottle recommends pressing it on to your skin once before attaching it to clothing to take  a little of the tack off. 
I love that the flowers can be stuck on anything I wear without worry of pin holes or snagging.  Even something like a pretty scarf can be embellished without fear of ruining it.  The flowers can be stuck over and over if you store them on glass.  If the flowers aren't as tacky after a few wearings, simply add another layer of glue.  Storing them on your mirror gives you an instant little decoration on your mirror.  I may make decorations for Christmas using Tack It Over & Over to decorate my mirrors. 
I made this adorable little flower using black felt and Martha Stewart's glitter glue and Glow in the Dark glitter.  I simply edged the felt with the glue and dipped it in the glitter.  I tried to take a picture of it glowing but it didn't work.  The 3 petals were made using Sizzix Flower Layers #9 and an orange bead. 


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Embellished Witch Hats

Look what I did yesterday…..

I made the purple dupioni silk
 flowers and added a vintage broach

Again I made the purple dupioni silk flowers,  added a
Swarovski button to a Parisian Anthology flower and added
hotfix Swarovski crystals and a seam binding bow.

The hat in the back was simply adorned with fringe I bought at
Hobby Lobby on super clearance. I trimmed it down to fit the length. 

I added a simple black bow and purple Halloween branches.

I had these cheapo hats I bought last year intending to embellish them but I hit a creative road block and couldn't figure out what to do with them. I could not formulate even one idea….so they sat in my house.  When I started this crazy Halloween crafting extravaganza in early September I got them out…..and…. ignored them.  I ignored them for 8 weeks because I was still at a loss.  Wednesday evening I sat down with them and the ideas just started flowing.  I think they are darling.  *In full disclosure…I didn't photograph the one hat that sucked….it sucked big time...I tossed it out because it was even worth salvaging. 


Wreath Tutorial Part 2

I promised a Wreath Tutorial part 2 and here it is…(part 1)

Pottery Barn Silver Bell Wreath
I will be showing you how I made my 2011 Halloween Wreath but keep in mind the same principles apply for any a wreath...any occasion.  

Pottery BarnOutdoor Ornament Pine Wreath
Start with an inspiration.  It can be a wreath, a floral arrangement, a color scheme…. it can be anything really.  It is easy to find great wreaths to serve as an inspiration or to copy*.  I suggest for your first wreath you find one you like and take a picture of it (or print a copy if you find it online) and use it to guide you as you buy supplies and put the wreath together. *Keep in mind that design lifting is fine as long as it is for your own personal use.  Please keep your ethics in check and don't steal someone's design for something you intend to sell.

Pier One Black Wreath
with Ornaments
Where can you find a design?  In RL (real life):  Stores that offer home decor items have a variety of wreaths for sale.  Look at chain stores like Pier One, Pottery Barn, and Williams Sonoma.  They have a variety of wreaths all year and most certainly during the holidays.  Big stores, such as Kohl's, Kmart, and Walmart, usually carry wreaths during the year and especially during the holidays .  Big craft stores like Michael's and Hobby Lobby, always have wreaths for sale and because they have so many, you are likely to find something you like that is at your skill level.  Keep your eye open as you shop and you will find ideas and designs everywhere.

My 2010 Halloween Wreath

Stores that sell wreathes, or wreath supplies, aren't the only source of inspiration.  Public spaces- hotels, business offices, and even upscale stores- are well decorated.  Wreaths and floral arrangements are almost always part of their d├ęcor and can be a good source of inspiration for design, flower choice, or colors.  Don't forget your friends’ and relatives' houses.  You never know when or where you will see something that inspires you so it is helpful to keep your eyes open and your camera ready.  I use my iPhone camera to take shots of inspiring items.

In VL (virtual life): If you don't find anything in the real world that strikes your fancy, look to the Internet.  There are plenty of inspiration sources online.  In fact the problem may very well become how to edit your
Made for my dear friend Barb
choices.  It would be impossible to list all the good online sources and you would probably have a different list than I did.  I have a wreath board on my Pinterest you might start with.  You can drop by to look.  Consider becoming a follower;  I am planning to keep it updated with new designs as the season and holidays change.   

From Kmart
If making an entire wreath from scratch is daunting but you still want something personal on your front door, consider the Semi-Homemade route.  A quick and easy way to get a wreath is to take a pre-made wreath and add a few embellishments.  I found a nice, very full,      

A wreath I leave up all
year.  I simply added a
holiday ornament.
pre-lit River Pine wreath at Kmart for $24.99- add a few flowers, a bow, or glittered pinecones and DONE!  Certainly more expensive than a completely homemade wreath but still reasonable.

Wreaths don't have to be conventional.  
Gum ball wreath from Martha Stewart
Pottery Barn Crystal Wreath (OMG I love this wreath!)
Paper leaves and glittered plastic berries
Martha Stewart Two wreaths together as one.
Some hints to keep in mind:
      • Use an odd number of items: flower blooms, pumpkins, bows, ornaments, etc.  Keeping things at odd numbers keeps it interesting.
      • Think about the color but also the texture of the items you are using.  You want a variety of textures.
      • If you plan to use lights, it is easier to put them on first.
      • You do not have to hot glue everything in place, but if you do, please remember to use newspaper or a silicone mat underneath to protect your work surface.  I've heard that hot glue can be really, really hard to get off of light pine Pergo.  Yeah, a friend told me….
      • If you don't want a permanent wreath, don't glue everything in place.  Instead, you can weave the stems into the wreath base.  This works well with a grapevine base IF the flower stems aren't too think (the sunflowers are a nightmare- I've done it and I ended up picking up flowers and sticking them back in almost daily).  You can use wire to hold the flowers in place temporarily.
      • You might want to "dry fit" the flowers before you add glue.  Play around with the arrangement until you get a design you like, then remove the flowers one at a time and glue them on to the wreath.
      • If the leaves are pretty you can use them in the design or keep them for another project. The leave for all the flowers I used were not worthy- I threw them away. 
      • Do you end up with a thousand glue stings when you are done?  Hit them with a blast from a heat gun and "poof' they are gone.
Once you have a design in mind, buy your supplies and get going.

Wreath Tutorial:
  1. Begin by gathering supplies:
    1. Wreath form: I used grapevine 
    2. Flowers: I used purple and green sunflowers, green hydrangeas and purple mums
    3. Filler: I used plastic skulls and silver glitter.  Other ideas would be ribbon,  bow(s), ornaments, foliage, crystals, monogram, berries, pumpkins, gourds... 
    4. Heavy duty wire cutters
Love this color scheme
    The hydrangeas came on a bush

  • Begin by breaking down the flowers.  Each flower requires something different but the main idea is to get rid of the extra stems and foliage and sometimes breaking the blossoms down into smaller units- depending on the flower and project (I usually cut the bottom row off of poinsettias because they are huge and hydrangeas get split into smaller clusters).
  • The hydrangeas were easy- they came on one bush, had a thin wire inside of a small stems and the foliage started several inches below the bloom. 

Regular wire cutters easily cut the stems
I got all these blossoms from 1 bush of hydrangeas
  • The mums were similar to the hydrangeas.
  • The sunflowers on the other hand... much different.  There are two techniques I would consider: either pop the bloom off the end of the wire or cut the wire about 1-2 inches below the flower.  
    • I chose to pop the bloom off the end but in order to keep the flower together it is important to use hot glue immediately after pulling out the big center wire or you may end up with purple fabric and a fuzzy plastic disc.
Looking at this huge wire dipped in plastic you can
probably guess why I didn't try to cut it.
    • Once the head is popped off the stem you have to be careful handling the bloom until it is glued and the hot glue cools.

    • As you can see in the photo above, there is a small plastic piece that extends from inside the bloom; this "female piece" attaches to the "male piece"- the wire that runs up the stem.  Once the male piece is removed the female piece is all that is holding the flower together….Hmmm isn't that always the way?  I digress….

    • Run a generous bead of glue around the female piece. It doesn't need to be neat- it won't be seen.  Let it cool. 

  • Begin with the biggest blooms first.  Spread them around the wreath.  If you aren't sure of yourself, place them without glue until you like the design and then remove them individually and glue in place. 
  • Put a small amount of hot glue on the end of the stems and push it into the wreath. 
  • Be sure to vary where you place them on the wreath- some on the top, some toward the inside of the circle, and some toward the outer edge/side of the wreath.  Notice that I have done this below.  You don't want the blooms all directly centered on the wreath, facing forward with big smiles on their face.  That doesn't look interesting or professional.

  • Once the big blooms are placed, start filling in with the smaller flowers.  Sometimes I cut the hydrangeas into smaller pieces to fit better. Watch that your colors are varied and well balanced. 

  • It is important to check your wreath as you go to be sure you don't have any unbalanced- too heavy or two skimpy- areas.  I hang the wreath on a door and step back…or, if they kids are handy, I have one of them hold it up.  Look at the wreath from all angles and be sure it is well balanced and looking like you want it to. 

Hanging up so I can check it for balance.
  • Once all the flowers are placed,  add the filler- the skulls. 
    • First they need to be GLITTERIFIED. 
    • I used Martha Stewart Sterling Glitter and Martha's Glitter Glue.
    • I only use Martha Stewart glitter.  Why?  Because her glitter is by far the best glitter for the price and cheaper,-glitters do not sparkle as much. There are other companies making beautiful glitter.  Art Glitter makes a spectacular glitter but it comes in 1/4 ounce jars.  Seriously?!? I buy glitter by the pound.  The silver glitter in the pic above is my actual silver glitter.  I have twice that amount of red, white gold, and orange glitter.  1/4 ounce!?!!? I see other brands coming into the market which seem quite pretty but my love affair with Martha's glitter is just too meaningful.  Cheap craft-grade glitter wont' work so don't bother.  
    • I like to glitter with Martha's Glitter Glue because I like the consistency for the project.  Any craft glue will work.  I've seen many tutorials using Mod Podge with glitter so I tried it…. once….and I hated it.  It is way too thin to hold on to the amount of glitter I like and it takes longer to dry.
  • I use a foam, throw-away brush to paint on glue. 

  • You can either glitter the skull in two stages, letting one side dry before completing the other side or, because the skulls have holes in the bottom, you can stick one end of the skewer into the skull and the other into a piece of styrofoam until dry.  
  • The bottom of the skull won't show so I just glittered the entire thing and sat it on a silicone mat.
  • What different a little glitter makes!

  • Simply add hot glue to the bottom of the skulls and glue onto the wreath.  Keep in mind the rule of using odd numbers of objects and vary the direction they face to keep it interesting.

The picture above is what my wreath looked like until I was putting out the rest of my decorations and found a black glittered "Happy Halloween" sign with no place to go….