Maker Team member Astrid of @treehousefeltflowers is continuing her series on creating gorgeous, realistic felt flowers. In her last post, Astrid taught us techniques for coloring felt. Today's tips focus on adding dimension to felt. You can learn a lot of things from the flowers...and Astrid.
In the first part of this series, we discussed ways to add color to your felt flowers, giving them interest and a touch of reality. In this second part, we will discuss adding dimension. By dimension, I mean adding folds, ridges, or wire to strengthen your petals and leaves. These techniques also have the advantage of helping your flowers keep their shape for a longer period of time.
Skill Level: Beginner to Advanced
Remember these three felt versions of the Day Lily? All 18 pieces of felt used to make these three flowers are the same size and shape. The flower on the left has no added color or dimension. The middle flower looks a bit better and has some coloring. The flower on the right is a combination of adding color and dimension.
Let’s look at some methods to add strength and dimension to your petals. All methods are done on individual petals before gluing the flowers together.
To make my Columbine flower, I use folding and wiring techniques to give the flower shape and strength. Without folds and wire, the flower would eventually droop and become misshapen. Just like paper and metals can be made stronger with folding (increased tensile strength), felt benefits from folding too!
I use a flat iron hair straightening tool to make folds in felt. I bought a new flat iron that I only use for felt. You can use a regular iron if you like, but I find a flat iron is easier to work with, especially for small pieces. I always use a green silicone mat when working with hot equipment on my work area.
Making a fold is easy! Just take your petal, manually fold it, then place the petal in the flat iron and close until the fold is made.
The fold mimics the center vein of a petal which makes it look more realistic! Petals with an ironed fold will stay straight longer. Once you have made a fold in each petal, use them as you would any petal for your flower-making.
The characteristic spurs of a Columbine give the flower movement and grace. I think the spurs are what make it my favorite flower! To achieve the flowing shape of the spurs, I place a thin piece of 22-gauge floral wire inside the fold. Cut a rectangle of felt, lay a bead of glue, fold the felt over the wire, and trim into the shape desired. The wire allows me to have the spurs “swoop” back the way real Columbines do!
I first saw the results of using a soldering iron on felt from watching YouTube tutorials. I was inspired to try it on my flowers. I use the soldering iron to make veins in leaves and petals. Certain flowers look much more realistic when you can emulate the texture of their petals by embossing ridges.
This technique works ONLY with pure wool or wool blend felt. DO NOT use acrylic felt for this technique. It will melt!
Use a silicone mat to protect your surface. Preheat the soldering iron. Think about which direction you want the veins to run. When the iron is warm, move the iron tip quickly over the felt, pressing firmly. You need to be quick, or you may get scorching. This technique works best with darker colors. Here are some examples of ridges in petals and leaves.
The final “tool” I use to maintain the shape of flowers is Aleene’s Stiffen Quik. This spray is available at Benzie Design and will help your felt stay in the desired shape. I especially like to use this on longer petals and leaves that feel the effect of gravity. It’s easy to apply, dries quickly and helps maintain the shape of your petals.
Just like using color, you will find the best way to get the most realistic looking flowers is to combine several of the methods we’ve discussed. The photos below all show flowers with at least two techniques used on their petals.
The photo on the left is a bouquet of lilies. I used a flat iron to fold the lily petals, and the wire technique to make the leaves. The middle photo is a Trillium. I used a soldering iron on the green leaves and a flat iron on the white petals. Since it is a larger flower, I finished it off with stiffening spray. The right photo of Gingko leaves has ridges from a soldering iron, wire in the leaves, and stiffening spray to finish.
I hope these tutorials will help you make any flower you can imagine!