A customer recently requested I make leaves to match the roses she was ordering. I had never done leaves before, but I figured it was time to try it. I’m pleased with the result since the leaves look like something off the rose bush in my backyard – only with fabric and thread instead of cellulose and chlorophyll.
Want to know how I made them? Here’s the tutorial, complete with twenty-seven 8×10 colored glossy photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explainin’ what each one was. (OK, there are not that many photos and they are not 8×10 nor do they have circles and arrow, but I couldn’t resist the Arlo quote.)
Making fabric rose leaves
- lightweight polyester fabric (I prefer silkessence from Jo-Ann)
- matching or contrasting thread for leaf vein
- 26 gauge jewelry wire
- sewing machine with zig-zag stitch
Step 1 – Cut leaf shapes with pinking shears. The pinking shears will give you that serrated edge like a real rose leaf.
Step 2 - Cut a 6 inch length of 26 gauge jewelry wire. This stuff is thin and cuts with regular scissors. I tried a thicker 24 gauge and broke my sewing machine needle – so the 26 gauge is safer.
Step 3 – Singe the edges of the leaf with a flame. Just let the flame lick the sides to seal the edges but keep some of that serrated edge.
Step 4 – Place the wire about 3/4 on the leaf, leaving the leaf tip with no wire
Step 5 – Now move to your sewing machine and set it for a zig-zag stitch with a very short length and small-ish width. I used a width of 2.0 and a length of 0.5 as you can see on my machine display. (yes, I’m just showing off my fancy-schmancy machine, but any zig-zag machine will work just great)
Step 6 – load up you color choice of thread in the top and bobbin. The thread will show, so keep that in mind. I’m using green thread because – well, it’s a leaf. (you can see where the “Duh” in DuhBe comes from – my days are filled with these moments.)
Step 7 – Stitch over the wire towards the leaf tip at the end of the wire, then go a few more stitches and stop with the needle in the fabric. Don’t remove the leaf yet, but here’s a photo showing the first length of stitching.
Step 8 - After stitching past the end of the wire, keep the needle in the fabric and pivot the leaf around 180 degrees. Now stitch over your previous stitching and then continue zig-zagging over the wire until you reach the bottom of the leaf. Gently guide the wire down the center of the leaf as you stitch over it. Don’t let the needle hit the wire – it could break your needle. When you reach the end, backstitch to lock it in place. The double stitching helps keep the wire in place and not poke through. You can go over the wire again if you want more thread coverage, or let the wire show through for a colorful interest. (I think red wire would look neat, but I only had copper)
Step 9 – Snip off the threads. Little embroidery scissors are great for this to get a close trim with no wiskars.
Step 10 – Repeat the stitching on the 2nd leaf. You can zig-zag over the wire if you want to, but it won’t show on the flower. I just did this to show off. I don’t recommend it since the wire is hidden by the flower. Here is the finished pair of leaves.
Step 11 - sew the leaves to the bottom of your fabric rose and bend the wire to mold leaves into your desired shape. You can put a loop or two in the wire to hold it in place better with stitching.
That’s all there is to it. Now go stitch yourself a rose garden.
As always, I am happy to answer questions about my tutorials. Feel free to leave a comment here, and I will answer within the comments unless you specifically ask for an email reply.