Tutorial – How to make leaves for your fabric roses

Author: duhbe  //  Category: My Creative Path, tips and tutorials

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.

fabric rose with leaves

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

Materials needed:

  • 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.

leaf tutorial


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.

leaf tutorial

Step 4 – Place the wire about 3/4 on the leaf, leaving the leaf tip with no wire

leaf tutorial

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)

leaf tutorial

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.)

leaf tutorial

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.

leaf tutorial

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)

leaf tutorial

Step 9 -   Snip off the threads.  Little embroidery scissors are great for this to get a close trim with no wiskars.

leaf tutorial

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.

leaf tutorial

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.

leaf tutorial

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.

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16 Responses to “Tutorial – How to make leaves for your fabric roses”

  1. Debra @ CraftyInnovation.com Says:

    GREAT tutorial! I love your fabric rose tutorial (that’s how I found you in the first place). I had tried my hand at making leaves, too but gave up. I started as you have by cutting leaf shape with pinking shears then singing, however I didn’t get the stem right. Your solution is wonderful! (FYI I tried heating a metal skewer and then touched it to the center of the leaf thinking it would look like a vein – it either melted the leaf or, if cooler, did nothing so I gave up.) Thanks for the wonderful post! Do you mind if I feature it this week on CraftyInnovation.com?

  2. duhbe Says:

    Hi Debra – Feel free to link to the tutorial and borrow a photo. Glad you liked it!

  3. Brenda Says:

    Cool! I suggest a couching foot for your machine. It’s got a groove on the underside that will hold the wire in position and reduce the likelihood of hitting it with your needle.

  4. duhbe Says:

    It never fails Brenda. I leave out some comment in my instructions and you find it! For the sake of brevity, I left this out: I was using a clear foot hoping to get a better photo. I was actually using a satin stitch foot when making the leaves – it has a groove for the thick stitches to pass through.

    I also have a clear couching foot for attaching things like a string of beads or thick yarns, but I rarely use it.

  5. Brenda Says:

    LOL! Don’t you just hate having friends like that? 8:-)

  6. Robyn Says:

    Thank you! WE really can have anything we want at DuhBe’s restaurant!! Heh, either you are an Arlo fan or you’re dating yourself. I am both!

  7. duhbe Says:

    Yep, I’m an Arlo fan. I can’t eat a pickle without singing about riding my motorsickle. (I don’t even have a motorcycle, but I sing it anyway – just to drive my teenage daughter nuts!)

  8. duhbe Says:

    Brenda… I LOVE having friends like that. Somebody has to keep me in line, and it’s certainly not going to be me. ;-)

  9. Eva Mari Says:

    Loved this and linked it for my sewing friends!
    You are talented, generous AND funny: unbeatable!

    Best regards from Norway and Eva Mari :D

  10. deealexx Says:

    I mostly love your sewing machine :X

  11. Sanja Says:

    Oduševljena sam ovim tutorialom!
    Prekrasan cvijet! :)

  12. gracie monteiro Says:

    I loved both your ideas of making the roses and leaves. so well explained, everyone wanting to make roses, will really find it helpsul

  13. gracie monteiro Says:

    Sorry, I meant to say “helpful”

  14. Pioneer Valley Gardening Says:

    I have searched thoroughly for the quickest and easiest way to build these roses and you top all the other tutorials by miles. Not only is your method easier and faster but the final product is more realistic as well. AND I am so glad to find someone who is making roses out of something other than the floppy organza. In some cases, one simply needs to have a stiffer flower and can’t rely on the floppyness of couture flower (as they call them.) You are a definite blessing to the build-your-own world of crafting. For more leaf ideas take a look at a rose garden rose: note the leaf structure of five leaves per branch just below the rose base thin leaves. With your fancy machine you would be able to whip up some impressive leaf groupings that resemble real rose leaf structures and add them to your fabulously-real-looking fabric roses. Blessings!!! and I look forward to more postings from the creative recessess of your mind.
    Debra at PVGardening

  15. Michelle Says:

    Do you think it would be possible to make a leaf or rose petal similar to this that bends all the way around instead of in the middle? I’m a costumer/cosplayer, and I’m currently working on http://rynncosplay.com/images/_wr.jpg

    I want to take all of her petals, and make them bendable. I was thinking that maybe I’d be able to use this method, but sew the wire all the way around the petal for the bending structure. Do you think that’s possible? I figured I’d ask you, because your amazing rose tutorial helped to teach me how to make the millions of roses that are also going into this work!

  16. Olga Says:

    Great job! I really need to get me a sewing machine =)