I made up this method for making handmade fabric roses based on what I know of rolled fabric roses, and the organza flowers from Reese Dixon. Rather than keep all my secrets to myself, I want to share this method with others. Some crafters will think I’m crazy for sharing my secrets for an item I sell in my Etsy shop, but I believe that sharing information contributes to the creativity of others and that is more important than me selling stuff. That’s just my own personal philosophy on creativity. Share it – don’t hoard it! Making roses in 5 simple steps – after the break…
One note before I get started with the instructions…You must be able to follow instructions very well if you attempt to make these! Many of the steps have some leeway in them, but the part with fire requires MUCH caution. I can not be held responsible for any harm you incur while playing with fire. So attempt your rose making at your own risk. I am only sharing my own method, not every single safety precaution. This craft is for responsible adults. If you are not a responsible adult (or if you had to stop and ask yourself if you qualify) then this craft is not for you. Honestly, this is no more dangerous than cooking on a gas stove. OK, carry on then…
Choosing fabric for the roses
Big important point here – you must use synthetic fabric!! Natural fabrics do not work. Polyester is what I choose. You might pick something different based on this fabric burn test chart. I’ve had the best results using 100% polyester lining fabrics. Lining fabrics are generally cheap ($2 – $5 per yard) and plentiful at local fabric stores in many colors.
Step 1 – Cut fabric into strips
I fold the fabric by matching the selvedge edges, then folding again into quarters. This gives me a long skinny strip that is easy to cut with rotary cutter, clear ruler and cutting mat. If you do this with scissors, that works too. It just takes longer. My fabric is 45″ wide so after folding it is around 11″ wide – an easy size to manage with my cutting tools.
For this sample I cut the fabric into 3″ strips. I think 2.5″ is my personal preference. Try your own sizes to see what you prefer. After cutting you’ll have a 3″ by 45″ strip. Cut off the selvedge ends.
Step 2 – Shape the strips into petals
Fold the strips into 4ths, then 3rds again so they are around 4″ wide, then cut the corners off 2 top edges to shape like a wide rose petal. This will give a more realistic look to your rose. I also like to cut the first 3 petals off the end which will be the inside of the rose. This keeps the flower center from protruding up too much on the finished rose. You can also shorten the first few petals near the center if you like.
Step 3 – Melt the edges
Here is the secret step. Melting the edges of polyester seals it from fraying, and also creates a little curl and darkening on the edge of the rose petal for a realistic look.
Just hold the fabric strip near the candle flame and melt all edges of the strip – including the bottom and sides. I could wax poetic for an hour about all I’ve learned about this step. But it’s easier if you experiment a little bit yourself and see what works best for you. Here are a few tips from my experience – use them or create your own preference:
- I like using a candle stick best, and quickly run the fabric through the flame.
- turn off any fans – air flow in the room will make the flame dance and just frustrate you
- if the wick gets too long the flame will dance – same frustration as above
- each fabric melts differently – experiment until you like the results. Be aware that light colored fabrics might get black if held near the flame too long, so work quickly.
- be sure to melt the inside corners between petals to prevent fraying there
- The bumpy edge looks best curled, but the straight edge which will be the base of your rose just needs to be sealed and not melted into curling
Step 4 – Gathering the strip
After the strip is cut and melted, you just gather the bottom edge, that’s the side that doesn’t have the bumpy petal shapes.
I’ve done this 3 ways. All of them work. Choose the one you prefer
- Using a pleater foot on my machine (shown in photo)
- Increasing the top thread tension on my machine, then baste. This makes the fabric pucker and gather on it’s own.
- Baste the edge by hand or machine and pull the thread to hand gather
A note on gathering and bloom size
Gather that 45″ strip down to anywhere between 10″ and 20″. The more you gather, the more open your rose would be. Below are photos of the same 45″ strip next to a ruler. One is gathered around 10″ and the other is more like 20″. After rolling them up, the 10″ gathered strip makes the open bloom on the right. The 20″ gathered strip makes a more closed bloom on the left. Play around with different gathered sizes to see what you like best. I have found that leaving the center side of the strip loosely gathered gives me a nice “bud” for the rose center so it looks more like a real rose. As with the other steps – experiment to find what you like best.
Step 5 – Roll and sew
Now you just roll up the gathered strip and hand sew it together at the base. I usually roll the strip around my finger and just keep the basted edge lined up as I roll it. Be sure the fabric doesn’t slip around and make the center part too high. Use a strong thread to tack several stitches at the base which will hold the rose together. To make the rose more realistic – look at how the petal edges curl, then roll the rose so the petals curl towards the outside. You can always do some touch up melting if you find any fraying edges, or if you want to curl some petals. You can also use your needle and thread to “soft sculpt” the rose and position centers if you are feeling ambitious.
That’s it. You have a rose! After practicing it should take around 15-20 minutes per rose. The melting steps and the hand sewing steps are good for putting on the telephone headset and chatting with friends and family.
Here are some ideas on what to use these for:
- Make a brooch by sewing or gluing on a pinback
- attach to clothing, purses, shoes
- make hair accessories – ponytail holder, headband, barette or bobby pin
- decorate your home – attach to lamp, fill a bowl or vase, sew onto curtains, bedspread, etc.
- perfect for giftwrapping – use a rose instead of a bow and use a strip of matching fabric for the ribbon
- They make nice favors for parties, showers or weddings. Incorporate them into placesettings. Make napkin rings.
These are just some uses I could think of. There are many, many more. I would love to hear what you are using them for. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think of this tutorial and how you plan to use all the roses you are going to make!