Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Let's Learn Something Today!

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.
- Mark Twain
The rain has been pouring non-stop all night, and it sounds magnificent!  I love a good rainy day, not a misty-can't-make-up-my-mind-if-it's-actually-gonna-rain type of day, but a true rainy day -- the kind with the drops big enough to soak you with just a couple of their friends.  The rain has brought with it the beginning of another school season for many little children this week, and with that I thought I'd play teacher for a minute, and lay out some instructions for a little project that results in flirty, fluttery, and fabulous flowers (too much?).  Apparently I'll be teaching a side lesson on alliteration, and the abuse of it too!

Ok, so here's where we're going with this.  Once they're finished you can decide to make them into
hair pins, lapel pins, gift decorations, whatever!  You can sew buttons, beads, or a series of french knots in the centers for little spots of pollen, or think of something wild I haven't come up with, there's really no messing these up -- and even if you think you have, just start over!  They're so easy, and quick to make you won't even care.

So, where do we begin?  What you need is a good (cheap) synthetic fabric.  Synthetics melt, and curl when heat is applied, and that's what you're after for this project.  I used some organza scraps I've been lugging around for ages that I really dislike sewing with.  It ravels, and slips under my sewing machine's presser foot, and wrinkles like nobody's business, so while this isn't the first time I've considered burning it, at least this time I could burn it AND make something out of it at the same time! 

Now that you've got your fabric picked out, you need to begin cutting your circles.  We're not looking for perfection here, just something round-ish.  I begin with about a 4 inch circle and work down in size with each one until I have around 4 or 5 circles cut out. 

Like this, except with fewer wrinkles because you're going to remember to run an iron over your fabric first, right?  It gives a much nicer result, depending on the look you're going for, a crinkly bohemian flower could be very adorable, and romantic looking in that dried bouquet-keepsake sort of way -- play around, that's what this is for!  Alright, you've got your circles, so now what?  Get out your candle and light it.  It doesn't matter what kind, though I don't think I'd use a taper candle with its flame all exposed for this.  I opted for something shorter that sits low in a holder to control the flame a little more ... I don't think you're going to want a flame to be whipping all around while you're trying to stick a piece of synthetic fabric in it, but hey, some of us like a little more excitement than others!
I like to work from largest to smallest when melting the circles.  Of course you have less control over the larger pieces, so starting with a smaller one your first time might be a good idea until you know how the fabric acts with the flame.  For best results you want to gently approach the flame from the side with the edge of the fabric.  I work near the low part of the flame, while hotter, I find it more reliable since there is less movement there.  Also this isn't about cramming fabric directly into the fire.  Bring the circle close to the candle and move it slowly toward the flame, since it is giving off heat you're going to see it start melting before you even touch it to the fire.  That's what you're shooting for!  If your fabric catches fire you're lookin' at scorch marks, and hard plastic beads of melted fabric, and that's not our goal here.  Once you're all nice and melty, it's time to stack your petals and stitch them in place. 

There are a couple of ways to do this.  1. You can stack all your petals and sew them together, stitch
your "pollen" in, and attach a bobby pin, or pin back to the back of your flower, or 2. You can get a little advanced and "hide" your work for a more effortless looking flower.  If you opt for #2, stitch your "pollen" of choice into the smallest petal first, then attach your pin, clasp (whatever) to the center back of the largest petal.  Once those are in place, stack your petals and begin stitching them together.  To hide your thread, start from the front side of the largest petal sending your needle down at an angle avoiding the pin you've sewn in place.  Pull your thread through, and on the way back up (through all petals this time), angle your needle so that you are entering the fabric under the pin thus hiding your thread for a clean finish.  Continue with this method, doing the same on the top side of the smallest petal so your stitches are hidden under your "pollen" as well.  Stitch until secure, and you're all done! 

If this is your first time "hiding" your stitches, it can be a little tricky, but I think it's worth knowing, and comes in handy for other projects and sewing situations.  Just practice it a couple of times, and you'll be all set! 

Good luck!  And no, this won't be on the test.