Lesson #5

Dimensional Flowers:

These instructions are posted with permission from Bluejay. She originally posted them on the wearable arts list, and graciously granted permission for them to be posted here....

Directions for basic ruched flower:

Just sew a zig-zag running stitch along a strip of of ribbon, as below: My personal note: I use a fabric tube, instead of ribbon, I have also used a fabric strip cut on the diagonal, I wanted the fray edge to come thru. and I use quilting thread in the bobbin.

     /\        /\        /\        /\
    /  \      /  \      /  \      /  \
   /    \    /    \    /    \    /    \ 
  /      \  /      \  /      \  /      \ 
 /        \/        \/        \/        \
Use a good quality thread, cause you're going to be pulling on it.

Size of the running stitch doesn't have to be perfect, as long as it's consistent. Stitches should go right to edge of ribbon before going back the other way.

After you make the stitches, gather the ribbon up along the thread. How tight or how loose is up to you. It's easier to make it loose at first. Another personal note, by pulling on the quilting thread it will make it easier to pull.

You'll now have a piece of gathered ribbon with "bulges" on each side. These are your petals. Form the gathered ribbon into a flat circle, working the inner bulges to lay nicely against each other. You might have to play around with loosening/tightening the gathers to have nice petals around the outside of the flower.

Once it looks good, tack the two raw ends together, hiding them at the back.

The number of zig-zags determines how many petals the flower will have. Five complete zig-zags (or triangles) seems to be the smallest number that still looks good. Six or seven seems to make the best-looking flower, and is the easiest to start with.

Is also easiest to start with a fairly wide ribbon, about 1 1/2 or 2 inches wide. Generally, the space between the point of each zig zag should be equal to the width of your ribbon. (Two inch wide ribbon=2 inches between each zig-zag point).

Now here's the creative part. You can vary the size of the zig-zags, making them tall and skinny or short and fat. You can sew tiny running stitches, which give a tighter gather, or longer stitches which make looser gathers. You can use different widths of ribbon, 1/2 inch seems to be the smallest that can be worked easily. You can use all sorts of ribbon, or even strips of fabric. I made some pretty ones out of gold mesh ribbon for christmas. Also, a long length of ruched ribbon makes a pretty trim for a dress, shirt, etc. This flower really shows its stuff when made from the French ribbons. These ribbons have a very fine wire along each edge to help with forming the flower. The shaded ribbons are a different color along each selvedge (the length of the ribbon). When you gather these up, you have a flower that is one color on the outside and another color on the inside.

You can dress up the flowers by adding buttons, beads, etc as centers, or just for a random accent.

To give the flowers a 3D look, I applique them onto the garment, slipping bits of polyester quilt batting or fleece inside each petal to plump it up before I sew it down. If you stuff the petals like that, you'll have to stitch around the edges of each petal to hold the batting in place. Otherwise, you only need to tack the flower down in a couple spots.

Leaves are a whole 'nother subject! But you can make a basic leaf with a piece of ribbon folded into a prarie point.

Lets talk about those leaves, you would take a squared piece of fabric, lets say 2". then fold it so the diagonals meet....(like a triangle) now take the points on the long side and bring them to the short side point, slightly overlapping them. slip them under the flower, but don't applique this down, as you want it to have a 3-d effect. These can also work for rose buds.

For a rosebud, you can use the above method, or you can cut a circle, fold in half, then place a gathering stitch on the rounded edge, pull tight, and voila, a rosebud.

Flat flowers with texture:

You need to find some applique patterns, or flower patterns to try this, you will need the following fabrics:

Suede, corduroy, crumpled fabric, or any other textured fabric. The idea here is to try and find fabrics that don't fray, but a little fray never hurt anyone either.

Trace the applique pattern onto paper, then draw the image on the reverse side of the paper, so that your flower has become reversed, then using reversed side, copy that onto freezer paper, cut out the freezer paper image, iron onto wrong side of textured fabric.....now cut image out. lay onto spot where you want the flower or item to be, and sew a straight stitch down thru the middle to hold the flower in place.....I like to use invisible thread when doing this. This technique is really good for leaves. but I have used it for flowers as well.

Pleated Flowers.

Cut a piece of fabric 2 1/2" x 4" place right sides together, sew the two short sides and long edge together, by starting on one side of the short side, turning to the long side, then turning to the short side again. (kind of like sewing a collar on a shirt) then clip corners, turn. iron flat. Now, take and add 2-3 small tucks or pleats, at open edge, making sure you are pleating both pieces of fabric, and sew across, you will want these to finish at the size of the fabric that will lay over the pleated edge of the flower.

This technique was taken from Mimi Dietrich's "Baltimore Bouquets" book and adapted by me for the sewing machine.

Often times, when I have a flower shape, that I don't necessarily want to turn under with the freezer paper applique method, I will cut two of the same image, and placing right sides together with sew the shape completely around, then I will slit the side that will go on the background and turn the shape, then iron shaping it with my purple thang tool, then I will iron it, and sew it down, often times, you can add some batting, or stuffing to give a dimensional effect. then I sew the flower to the background.

On another note for this technique, you can leave an opening on many flowers and leaves and turn them this way as well, especially if you are placing them under a flower, or stem, or the part of the stem that connects to the flower or if the flower has a middle. This is nice to do if the flower will not be sewn down.

Another technique I recently tried was one I saw in a magazine, I don't have the mag, and know it was recent, but for the life of me can't remember at which friends house I saw it in, but I looked at the picture, came home and immediately tried it.....it could be either McCalls Quilting magazine, or Lady's Cirlce, and was in the last 2 months, but anyway, the gist of the idea is, you cut a circle, then you fold in the outer edge to the middle. you take one of the points, and fold it to the circle, you continue this until you have a hexagon-shaped flower, you need to stitch down the middle, and cover it, I used buttons, or beads to cover the raw edges, its an interesting technique.

Another technique, that I have adapted from yo-yos, was to cut 2 circles, placing right sides together, sew the circle, cut the slit, turn, iron flat, and then take a needle and thread, (yes, this is a hand part) you bring the needle up from the middle of the fabric, loop around to the back, and pull, the fabric should pull from the edge to the middle of the fabric, you want to do this tightly, then loop again, pull it tight, and do again for 3 more times, you can then tie it off, and you have another 5 petaled flower.....in the technique I learned from Mimi, you actually made the yoyo first, then did the loops, but since I truly hate hand work, when I tried this, I really liked it. makes a nifty flower.

I was planning to do silk ribbon flowers in this installment, but I have not practiced enough to do them.....so I will give you book sources, where you can find tips on how to do these by machine. These are the only two sources, I know of for ribbon work by machine.

Soft Gardens by Yvonne Perez-Collins

Patchwork Concepts by Sulky.

Remember, almost any shape can be made dimensional, and alot of these techniques can be incorporated for other things other than flowers, you are not always going to sew these flowers or shapes down, you really want them to stand off the background as much as possible, so something is always going to be over or under your dimensional work.

These are sources I use for dimensional flower work, The books are very good, and cover alot of ground, it is my highest recommendation that you purchase these if you intend to do any of this type work, some of them concentrate on doing it by hand, but these can easily be adapted to machine work. I have made many of the flowers from these books on the machine.

Baltimore Bouquets by Mimi Dietrich

Three Dimensional Applique by Jodie Davis

Dimensional Applique by Elley Sienkiewicz

Into the Garden by Cindy Zlotnik Oraveca concentrates on it by machine.

Soft Gardens by Yvonne Perez-Collins

Almost all of the Sulky books have some form of dimensional work in them.

Please email if you have questions about all of these lessons, for me they are tried and true and have worked many times.

See ya Soon,

Bernina Page * Main Quilting Page