Leggi questo post in: Italiano
I love flowers. Heck, who doesn’t? I think pretty much every lady does.
I love how they smell. I love the colors. I love the beauty and joy a vase of fresh cut flowers gives a home.
What I don’t love is when they start to wilt. And turn brown. And I feel guilty having cut them (or knowing that someone cut them for me).
The obvious solution are fake flowers, but I am quite frankly turned off by the thought of plastic or silk flowers made by overworked Chinese factory workers, both for ethical and environmental reasons. So my eco-friendly solution that makes me and my ideals happy are homemade flowers made from repurposed materials!
Italians love party favors. Or rather, as I call them, “event favors.” Little sacks or boxes of Jordan almonds (sugar-coated almonds) are given away along with a silver, ceramic or other type of trinket at weddings, baptisms, first communions, births, graduations, 18th birthday parties, and so on.
The almonds are 99% of the time wrapped in little circles of tulle which are color-coded according to the type of event. Students who graduate from university use red packaging so, seeing as my husband is a university professor, we tend to accumulate small pieces of red tulle. And last year was the year of first communions in my daughter’s class, so she came home from school with her classmates’ favors for the entire month of May. I held on to all these bits of colored goodness, knowing that inspiration would eventually strike.
And then it came to me: flowers! The circular shape make them perfect for making incredibly quick and easily customizable flowers to decorate the home. But even if you don’t have a collection of tulle circles from “event favors”, you can very easily use scraps of tulle you have left over from making reusable produce bags or no-sew tutus!
So what do you say? Are you ready to make your own DIY tulle flowers from your fabric scraps? Then let’s get started!
Gather up your tulle, whether it be from repurposed favor packaging or tulle scraps (or even new-from-the-bolt tulle). Yes, that is indeed polka-dot tulle leftover from a no-sew tutu that I made years ago.
Other materials you’ll need:
- florist’s tape*
- florist’s wire* – optional (I used 22 gauge wire.)
- wire cutters – optional
- thin sticks or bambu skewers – optional (perhaps left over from making pick-up sticks!)
- needle and matching thread
- scissors (you can also use zig-zag or wavy scissors, too, if they can cut through the tulle) – optional
- fake flower stamen* – optional (I used Decora brand double-ended 3 mm stamen and also a metallic type similar to regular fabric pins)
How to make a tulle flower from a circle
I will start with the easiest type of flower possible, made from a circle of tulle that already had a ribbon drawstring going through it. After I will show you how to cut your own tulle pieces and how to make your own gathering ribbon/thread, as well as a flexible wire stem, but for now I want to quickly show you the base technique.
Pull on the drawstring ends to gather the circle, adjusting the fabric so that it creates a little “sack” at the bottom (which is where Italian put the celebratory almonds). Pull the ribbon tight and tie one or two knots after arranging the gathers how you like them.
Wrap the “sack” around the tip of a stick or bamboo skewer and tie it in place. Then start wrapping around this flower receptacle with florist’s tape to cover it completely. (If you have never used florist tape, you pull it gently to release the adhesive, and it will stick.)
Then continue wrapping down the stick to create the stem. At the end, just tear the florist tape and press down the ends.
Done! That was easy, right? Now I’ll show you some variations on how to make these flowers.
Gathering the tulle with needle and thread
If your repurposed tulle circles don’t have a drawstring, just use a needle and thread. In this case, as with most of the flowers I made, I used multiple tulle layers to make a fuller flower.
Stick the needle in the fabric about 4-6 cm from the edge (depending on how big you want your petals to be), and sew a running stitch all around until you get back to the beginning. It doesn’t have to be perfect, so just eyeball it. Then gather the the circle as shown before.
Flexible wire stem
Using a thin stick for a stem is really easy, but this makes a rigid stem which cannot be used for much other than display in a vase. You can instead make a flexible wire stem that can be bent and used in many ways.
Prepare your flower as shown before, then start wrapping the wire around the flower receptacle. Then let out a straight length of wire, bend it and wrap it back up around itself. Cut the wire at the receptacle, then wrap everything with florist tape as shown before.
Note that it is harder to wrap the tape around the wire than it is around the stick. I suggest holding on to the receptacle and turning the whole flower from there.
However I really like all the extra options you can have with a flexible wire stem. You can make the flower stand up by itself, wrap it around a gift (like I did just yesterday!), or bend it onto any other support you like.
You can also make flowers from square pieces. I suggest positioning the squares on top of each other so that the corners are not on top of each other.
The top picture above shows what the squares look like when gathered. If you don’t like the effect, just trim down the corners.
Attaching the flower to the stick with wire
A good way to attach the flower to the stick is to cut off the very bottom of the “sack” created, and put the stick inside the hole. Then wrap the wire around the receptacle and squeeze it with the wire cutters to keep it better in place.
I really liked the rigid metal stamen because I could add them at the very end by just sticking them into the center of the petals. And if I didn’t like the way it looked, I could just take them right back out again. (Incidentally, you could use normal fabric straight pins with a large spherical head instead of craft stamen.)
If you use the smaller flexible stamen with two ends, you have to fold them in half and insert them into the center when gathering the tulle circle.
Using tulle scraps and yardage
If you don’t have any fabric circles from favors, you can use regular tulle yardage, or scraps from other projects. This blue netting was left over from some reusable produce bags that I made years ago. Just cut out a bunch of circles with a diameter of about 25 cm (or more or less, depending on the look you’re going for), layer them, and gather them as shown before with needle and thread.
And that’s it!
These DIY tulle flowers are really so easy and fast to create, and it’s a lot of fun to play with different colors, sizes, shapes and layers, as well as the flexible stem and stamen options. I loved seeing how each flower took on its very own personality and, even if I was just making them without a specific end result in mind, each one reminded me of a type of flower.
Here are some of the many red flowers I made. Even if they’re not at all realistic, the top two remind me of poinsettias, while the bottom two remind me of a poppy (left) and a begonia (right).
The other colored flowers created totally different looks! The blue flower at the top right reminds me of a morning glory, the lavender one of a hibiscus, and the green one of a carnation. The polka dot one reminds me of something, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. What do you think it looks like?
And when put all together, they make a wonderfully colorful and diverse bouquet! Wouldn’t it be marvellous to use white or cream-colored tulle to make a bridal bouquet? Swoon!
What types of flowers would you like to try to recreate with tulle?
If you loved these DIY tulle flowers, make sure you check out these three no-sew flower pin ideas!
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