Birdsong Bows: Free Fabric Flower Tutorial - How to make a simple gathered fabric flower

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Free Fabric Flower Tutorial - How to make a simple gathered fabric flower

My girls are starting school tomorrow, and because of a school consolidation, the uniform colors changed from navy, khaki and white last year to purple, gold, white, black and khaki now. My youngest is entering kindergarten (sob!!). I planned to "pass down" the bows and flowers from my older daughter, but they now both need hair accessories in a different color! I wanted something quick to make today, since we're spending at least part of the time gearing up for school.

This flower is a simple strip-work piece that I've created out of just a portion of a fat quarter of silk dupioni, and is very easy to make. It helps if you have a sewing machine, but you can hand-stitch if necessary.

Other supplies needed:
* 1 fat quarter of fabric
* Basic sewing supplies (needle, thread, scissors, iron/ironing board)
* Rotary cutter, mat with markings, and acrylic ruler (not completely necessary, but very, very helpful)
* Hot glue gun and glue
* Fancy button
* Barrette or pinch clip (or pinback, if preferred, to add to a purse, coat or shirt)

First, press your fabric. Then lay it on your cutting mat with the edges squarely against the guide marks. Position your ruler along the 45-degree diagonal line, and make the first cut.

Move over 2 inches, and cut your first strip. Cut another 2-inch strip, also on the bias. When you add your strips together, they should measure about 36 inches, but this is approximate - if you've got a lot less than 36 inches, cut a third strip. If you've got more, don't worry about it.

Place your fabric strips together with the ends nestled as shown below, with 1/4" overhanging on EACH side. If you have a right and a wrong side, be sure to place your fabric right sides together. Pin.

Take this to your machine, and sew 1/4" from the edge. If you don't have a machine, be sure to stitch by hand with very small stitches!

Press your strip with the seams going to one side. You can press the seams open if you wish, but since I have a quilting background, I usually just press to one side.

Once you've pressed your seam, cut off the little triangle that sticks out on the one side, so that you have a smooth, clean strip (below). I couldn't show the cutting because I didn't have an assistant here today to hold my projects, like I usually do when I photograph my ebooks, lol.

Trim your ends into gentle curves. I've shown it below with the fabric layered on top of itself, so you can see how both ends are curved (sort of like a really long, skinny boat!).

Using your needle and thread, make long running stitches about 1/4" in from the edge, starting at the curve (below), and stitching all the way to the other end of the strip. Finish after you've gone up the second curve. Do not stitch along the other long side (the second photo is showing the stitching and is "flipped over" from the picture above; you will not stitch along both sides).

Pull your thread gently to gather your fabric strip. You don't need to gather it overly tight, but tight enough to create some flattering "ruffles." It will start to wind in on itself as you pull (second photo, below).

Cut a 3 1/2" inch square out of matching fabric. Find the center by folding it along both diagonals, and then unfolding it.

Thread your needle, and stitch the gathered fabric strip onto the square. Position it over the middle point. Wind the strip into a corkscrew as you move inward, stitching as you go along.

Trim the square away, leaving a smaller circle (below).

Sew and hot-glue a button onto the front.

You can add a piece of felt to the back for more stability, but because I was aiming for a super quick project, I decided to simply hot-glue the barrette to the back.

Enjoy your finished fabric flower! :)

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Blogger Lindsey said...

I love Birdsond Bows-so unique!

August 28, 2011 at 11:50 AM  
Blogger Burnetta said...

These would make neat flowers to decorate a cloth bag or purse also

September 5, 2011 at 9:51 AM  
Blogger Deanna McCool said...

I agree!

September 5, 2011 at 10:41 AM  
Blogger songbirdfeeder said...

I love this! I have saved material scraps (I have to hem a lot of tops since they're usually too long on me) and thought they would make pretty pins. The scraps should work with your pattern. However, I wasn't sure how to keep the edges from fraying?

September 5, 2011 at 11:05 AM  
Blogger Deanna McCool said...

The edges will still fray, songbirdfeeder, but since it's on the bias the fraying isn't too terrible. I made this with dupioni silk, which can fray a lot, and this flower is holding up well.

September 5, 2011 at 1:12 PM  
Blogger patricia said...

Very nice. Also very good and easy instructions to follow. Thank you.

January 28, 2012 at 5:56 PM  
Blogger Valerie said...

What is a "fat quarter"?

January 20, 2013 at 6:53 PM  
Blogger Lady Dragoness said...


A "fat" quarter is a quarter yard of fabric that is cut in a non-standard way. If you ask a clerk at the fabric shop to cut a quarter yard of material for you, what you will most often receive is a cut that's the width of the fabric (about 44 inches) by 9 inches long. A "fat" quarter is half the width of the fabric (often 22 inches) by a half yard or 18 inches.

February 11, 2013 at 12:40 PM  
Blogger Forever Christmas 1904 said...

I really love this idea! Silly question, although I have scraps of fabric, could one use ribbon also? Would any fabric strip work or does it have to be cut on the 45 degree angle? Thanks for your help!

February 17, 2013 at 2:46 PM  
Blogger Deanna McCool said...

Yes, you could also gather with a wide ribbon! It would give a slightly different look. :)

April 11, 2013 at 9:01 AM  
Blogger Deanna McCool said...


April 11, 2013 at 9:03 AM  

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