I know I’m in the minority, but cut flowers are just not my thing. Don’t get me wrong, I love to see beautiful flowers in a garden or in nature, but between the cost part and the dying part, flower arrangements seem so wasteful. Since I’m cheap and crafty, I decided to make fabric flower bouquets for myself and my bridesmaids, rather than spend hundreds (or more) on real flowers. Not only did I save a lot of money, but the bouquets will last a lifetime.
In the two years before my wedding, I pinned a lot of DIY flowers — paper, fabric, coffee filter, you name it. Eventually I decided on homemade fabric flowers, but, unfortunately, that’s not specific enough. Pinterest, Etsy, and Google Images were literally overflowing with beautiful pictures of handmade fabric flowers and bridal bouquets. I tried a couple different flower making techniques, but they weren’t quite what I wanted. Finally, I found an awesome bouquet on WeddingBee, and the creator linked to some tutorials in the comments section. Thankfully the flowers and tutorials were just what I wanted, because it was just a couple months until the wedding. I had to get to work! I modeled my flowers after the Fabric Peonies on Creature Comforts and the DIY Fabric Flowers on Rhonna Designs.
I made 60+ fabric flowers during the 2-3 months prior to our wedding. It’s a pretty time consuming process, but you could easily crank these out in one or two weekends if you set aside a lot of time. Despite the time commitment, I’m so glad I decided to make my own. The total for my bridal bouquet and three bridesmaids bouquets was around $50, and I loved how they turned out! Here’s a shot of my finished bouquet on our wedding day, taken by our lovely photographer Kat. What do you think?
Let’s get our materials together! To make the flowers, you’ll need scissors, tealights (I bought a 16 pack from the Dollar Tree), needle and thread, and 100% polyester fabric in different textures (organza, chiffon, satin, etc.) and colors that match your wedding (or other flower project). Since we’ll be burning/melting the edges, 100% polyester fabric (it’s basically plastic) is a must.
My wedding was different shades of blue with ivory, lace, and burlap accents, so I picked out five different shades of blue and a lot of ivory fabric. Be sure to check out the remnant bin at your fabric store! Depending on how many flowers you’re making, you’ll need less than one yard of each fabric type, so remnants are perfect. Better yet, the remnants at JoAnn Fabrics (where I purchased my stuff) are 50% off the price of the regular fabric, which can be a super, super sweet deal if the fabric is on sale! I got lucky and found most of mine in one trip, but you might need to scope out the bin for a couple weeks. I paid less than $50 for all of my fabric, and I had waayyyy too much.
Separate your fabric by color. For mine, I put all of the ivory together, then separated the blues into navy, royal, cornflower, and two lighter shades. Begin cutting out a bunch of 4″ circles and some 3″ circles (you’ll need about half as many of these smaller circles). Don’t worry, they don’t have to be perfect! To make your flowers look more interesting, be sure to vary the types of fabric you use. You can do this however you like, but I found it easier to do all of one color of flower before starting the process over for the next color. I feel more accomplished when I’ve totally finished one color of flower, instead of being 1/4 done with all the flowers.
Set aside a bowl of water (in case of accidental fires), move to a well ventilated area, and light a tea light. The polyester will give off a weird, melt-y plastic smell as it burns, so try not to inhale too much.
Carefully melt the edges of the circle, slowly rotating as each section melts. Make sure you start way above the flame and move down until you’ve found a good spot. Fabrics like organza will melt really quickly and easily, and some, like chiffon, can burn or turn weird, ugly colors if held too close to the fire. I recommend using two hands and not trying to take pictures of yourself while doing this part. If you do burn a flower, assess the damage. If it’s minor, you can cut off a part and re-melt the edge, but some might be too far gone.
Once the edges of your flower have been melted, cut four slits in your flower. The slits should be pretty close to evenly spaced, as they’ll be forming the flower petals.
Using two hands, hold each slit open and carefully melt the edges. Be sure to hold the flower as far above the flame as possible. Some of the more fragile fabrics will melt straight through the middle of the flower. Be sure to keep your finished flower layers organized by color and size.
When a large group of flower layers is completed, arrange 5 or 6 of one color. You will need 3-4 of the larger pieces made from the 4″ circles, and 2-3 of the smaller pieces made from the 3″ circles.
Now we’ll begin to start to stack the flower layers, alternating the position of each layer. The petals from the top piece should lay on the slits from the previous layer. Place the larger pieces on the bottom of the stack, and the 2-3 smaller pieces on the top.
If you’re satisfied with the layer arrangement, hold the flower together and sew a small “X” in the center.
I used black thread for visibility, but you will want to use a thread color that matches your fabric flower.
Now that a few flowers have been made, it’s time decorate the centers. For my wedding flowers, I sewed different patterns using pearls, glass beads in various shades of blue, and crystal beads. Each flower in my bridal bouquet was unique. What should you use for your flowers? Anything you want! Antique brooches, beads, pearls, buttons, ribbons — they would all look awesome! Just be sure to use a coordinating color of thread when you sew down your centers.
Here are a few of my finished flowers, all ready for the next part of the project. Check out DIY Fabric Flowers Part Two to learn how to make a bouquet, sash, and corsage!