Accessories are some of the easiest things to make from all the containers, bags, lids, plastic rings, and cast-off clothing so abundant in our society. The Internet (my blog included) is full of ideas for making jewelery, belts, scarves, purses, and hair bows from things normally slated for the landfill.
The first step is to make a stencil. This requires only a piece of paper and a cup or other object that has a circumference about the size desired for the finished flower. After I had traced and cut out a circle, I folded it in half and then into thirds as shown in the photo. Using a pair of scissors, I rounded the top of the folded paper to look more like an ice-cream cone. When I unfolded the paper, I had a fairly evenly-shaped flower with six petals. I refolded the paper and cut slightly deeper into the sides of the folds until I was pleased with the shape of my petals when the paper was opened out flat. Using this stencil and my fabric scissors, I cut out nine of these shapes from an old T-shirt and eight of them from some tulle or lace in a coordinating color. I also cut a circle of felt that was smaller than the circumference of my flower pattern.
To form the flower, I stacked one piece of tulle on top of one of the T-shirt pieces (I loosely lined the petals up to match), and secured the them together with a dot of hot glue. Then, with the tulle to the inside, I folded the petal in half and then again into quarters. I secured the petal into this fold with a dot of hot glue on the inside near the point. After I had made four of these petals, I glued them flat-side-down to my circle of felt with the folds of the petals all on the left side. Then I formed four more petals and glued a second layer on top of the previous four petals. However, this time I made sure to glue the petals down centered over the edges of the first layer and with the folds of the petals on the opposite side. In the photo of the second layer, the top two petals are shown centered over the folds on the first layer.
The center of the flower is formed by folding the remaining knit petal piece in half and rolling it into a cone shape. I cut the tip of the cone off and glued it into the center of the layered petals. I fluffed the petals up around the center piece, using a dot of glue here and there to secure the petals in a pleasing shape. This finished the basic flower, but I wanted to explore some other options.
I wondered how the flower would look with a leaf, so I found a scrap of green fabric and stiffened it some with fusible interfacing. I cut out a leaf shape and snipped a serrated edge along the sides. Then, with pale green paint and a thin paint brush, I added some veining. I glued the leaf to the felt circle on the back of the flower and added a pin back so that I could easily pin it in place. When I made a flower for my daughter, I also added a barrette clip to the back so that she can wear it on her clothes or in her hair.
I experimented with different colors and fabrics, substituting lace for the tulle and a polyester knit for the T-shirt. Thicker lace made for a fuller flower, while a glittered knit created a different look altogether. I also found that this was a wonderful way to preserve memories of cherished life events. I was able to create a “memory flower” (the green flower with cream lace), incorporating the fabric and lace from a cherished mother-of-the-bride dress as a token for a senior adult who was having to part with the garment after years of keeping it in a closet. She was delighted to be able to retain some portion of the dress in which she had experienced so much pleasure.
My final experiment with the flowers was to try to dye them. I have always enjoyed the look of roses with centers that have one color in the center that fades into a second color as it moves toward the edges of the petals. I wondered if I could mimic that look. I cut the petals from white T-shirt and then used acrylic paint thinned with water as my dye. I did not measure the paint-to-water ratio, but perhaps it was close to a one-to-one. I do know that more water makes lighter colors while less water makes for darker, more intense colors. By using a dropper to drip the thinned paint onto the dry fabric petals, I was able to loosely guide the colors where I wanted them to go. Then I used a spray bottle to mist the petals, which caused the colors to bleed together. The photo shows the how the petals looked before (top rows) and after (bottom rows) I had misted them. I can honestly say that I had my doubts about how this would turn out at this point! The petals certainly did not look like much. I took them outside and let them dry in the sun. To make very sure that the paint was set, I also ironed the dry petals before I formed my final flowers. I was very pleased with the results! The dyed flowers had a depth to them that my previous flowers did not have.
Working on accessories brought to mind the passage in 1 Peter 3:3-4 that cautions us not to let our “adorning” be “…the outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” This does not mean that God is against a nice hairdo or the wearing of jewelery (He certainly wants us to “put on apparel”!), but that our greatest beauty should come from our joyful attitude and a spirit of quiet trustfulness in our Heavenly Father’s loving providence in our lives. This beauty is not something like our flowers that you can make or purchase and wear on your person, but it comes from close contact with the fragrance and beauty of a very special “flower” –the Rose of Sharon, our Lord Jesus Christ. And the wonderful news for all of us is that this beauty is available to all those who put their trust in Christ and spend time getting to know the greatness of His love!