Sunday, March 8, 2009

Millinery Flower Experiments

Your comments and emails about my last post were so sensitive and loving...truly, our corner of the bloggosphere is filled with sweet souls. Thanks, everyone.....

This week-end I changed focus to play with the French Flower making tools that I borrowed from Susan Elliot. These are tools that allow you to permanently shape fabric that has been stiffened and cut out into petal shapes. Then you assemble them into 3 D flowers.
You heat the tools over an open flame and then....

Why not just come have a look?

Here are my gathered tools and supplies. Top left shows the tools...they are solid brass balls and other shapes with wooden handles. Below them is my "sand pillow", which is used as my tooling surface. My little denatured alcohol (also known as methylated spirits) burner is next to the pillow on the plate. I found it on eBay.
The fabrics to the right were all soaked in a solution of one part PVA archival quality glue to four parts water and then hung up to dry. This makes the fabric slightly stiff, and prevents the cut edges of the petals from fraying. It also allows the petals and leaves to hold their shapes, once tooled.
My pile of stamens, glue, scissors, and thread complete my set up.


The first thing I did was play with the stamens a little bit.

I wanted to see if I could use Tsukineko inks to color over the red ends...I wanted orange. It worked pretty well.

Then I took some little premade buds and sewed a ring of beads at their bases. Kind of picky work, but I wanted to see how it would look. Maybe ok...

The next thing I did was cut out my shapes. I didn't really plan my flowers ahead, and didn't use templates. I just wanted to see how the different kinds of fabrics behaved. I've got dupioni silk, silk habotai, silk chiffon, silk charmeuse, cotton batik, and commerically printed quilters' cotton. There is some stiffened nylon lace in there, some upholstery fabric, some silk organdy...I just grabbed a bunch of stuff.

Here you can see me shaping an organdy petal in the sand pillow. A smaller-balled tool is heating up in the flame.

Whoops! Duh, the tool was too hot for the nylon lace.
You knew that was going to happen, didn't you? After this little mishap I let the tool cool off before I used it on the lace and it worked fine.

This special tool is used to put the center vein into the leaf shape.

My shapes are all tooled and ready to be assembled into flowers.
I tried this two ways, by sewing the shapes onto fabric, and by creating "free standing" flowers on wire.

Obviously, sewing them onto fabric was what came naturally to me. The chiffon flower is at the top, with a bead and some French knots in the center.
The purple flower below is sort of camellia shaped, and has some little silk ribbon roses in its center to act as stamens.
The peony flower has one of the ready made stamens poked through to the back and then sewn down.
That background fabric is some of the lovely handpainted cotton that Vicki Welsh sent to me.

Not too bad for a first try!

The free standing flowers were more difficult, and involved glueing the petals at their base to the wire at the base of the stamen. I was a klutz at this...

They are a little hard to photograph, too!
My husband said the top flower looks "druggy".
I like it, though. I used an abstract cotton print for the petals. And I love how the cotton behaves.
The crocus-like flowers are made from the dupioni, which also takes the tooling really well.
Below them is a flower I actually made from some pre-fab petals I had on hand from the crafts store...they sell them in the wedding section. They are mixed in with some organdy petals, with French knots in the center.

Those were Saturday's flowers. Today I just made one, my favorite of all flowers, the peony...

This time I laid out my flower as I cut out the shapes. Makes sense.
I used a peony print cotton. Why not? There is also pink lace and silk inner "feather" petals.

For the center I decided some needlepunch would be nice. I am using 6 strand rayon floss, and needed a heavy fabric, as the punch needle was big and made large holes in the fabric. This fabric scrap worked great.

Here are my petals and leaves all tooled and ready to go.

And here is my peony!
The silk background square is about 6" X 7".

Here is what I have learned so far:

--the lighter weight the fabric, the more glue is required in the ration of glue/water when preparing the fabric. The lightweight silks didn't hold their shape as well as the heavier fabric.

--it's great to mix different fabrics in the same flower for interest. That's why the lace petals were in there. You can mix organdy or chiffon with charmeuse for the same kind of effect.

--Tools need to be heated to different temperatures depending on what fabric you are using. The charmeuse burned, for some reason, when the tool was really hot, but the cotton and dupioni didn't.

--Even after the flower is created, you can do some creative refining with your scissors to get a petal's shape just right....or to cut off any wispy frayed threads (but there were hardly any).

The tools can be purchased here...but they are pretty expensive.

My burner is an old Swedish Triangia stove I got here. Poke around online if there are none left at the link. It uses denatured alcohol, found in the paint section of the hardware store.

This is early days for me...I know I'll be doing a lot more experimenting.
Petal shapes could be embroidered before they are tooled, for example....and...and...and....

43 comments :

Vicki W said...

That's pretty cool!

Judy S. said...

Sounds like you're having fun, Allie, or maybe after yesterday, you've decided to create your own spring. Ack, I just looked out the window, and it's SNOWING again here.

Magpie's Mumblings said...

Oh wow...what beautiful flowers, especially your peony! Made me think of spring and hope it comes soon.

Raspberry said...

These are amazing! And they sound fun to do. At any rate, I now am on the lookout for a local friend with the tools... :)

Francy said...

You are such an awesome instructor. I look forward to seeing your "experiments" with other fabrics and flowers.

BTW: thanks for the links to the diffent seahorse patterns you left on my blog. Your kindness is appreciated :o)

Lenna said...

Wonderful tutorial, thanks. I have not seen a tool like this before. Very useful!

appleseed said...

Hey There Allie!
I haven't commented in a while, but I am a steady lurker... Just had to come out of the shadows today and say .. WOW!
I love watching your flowers come together!
Thank you!

Lisa said...

Oh my! I adore that purple cupped flower ~ it has a fairytale quality to it! But that gorgeous peony! Amazing! I love the touch of lace in it! Can't wait to see where you go with these beautiful blooms!

Cathy K said...

I didn't even know this art existed, and here you are, fearlessly experimenting and teaching at the same time. Brava, Allie!! Your peony is luscious. Perfect antidote for my "lost tree blues", LOL!! Hugs, Cathy

Esther Gregory said...

wow that peony is gorgeous!! You're really broadening your horizons with these new tools. How do you plan to use your new skills?

Barbara C said...

Wow this looks like fun. There are so many variables to experiment with, it's like traveling through uncharted territory.

Your flowers are beautiful, but I was also fascinated to see how those stamens are made.

Kay said...

The whole process seems a bit "druggy" to me, as in meth lab! Beautiful flowers though, Allie. Way, way, beyond anything I would try.

Marg said...

I have a new respect for fabric flowers and their makers now! Wow! That sure is fiddly work! And yet you make it look so easy and methodical...

Possibilities, Etc. said...

I rather like the druggy flower, as well as the rest of them, of course. We did something like that in Mexico - made gorgeous leaves, starting with velvet - used heated tools and dyes. (40 years ago - YIKES!) Now I have forgotten how to do it. I wish we could have a bit of snow - it is dreadfully hot and dry in Austin. Trees leafed out but no flowers.

Mary said...

Wow! You've got a nice life goin on!!!

Debra said...

OK, I get it now! I always wondered how the professionally done silk flowers had shape & looked like flowers. Of course there are special tools. I can see some great possibilities for those! Oh, baby!

rianammerman said...

What fun! I love this new direction...perfect for you.

everythingquilts said...

What great ideas you have. These are beautiful and look like fun.

Summerset said...

That's exactly where I thought this was going! Maybe I ought to get a set of tools - I think they might come in handy. The way you stitched those flowers to the fabric is right along the lines of what I would do, too!

GARDENING GRANNY! said...

That. Is. Amazing. And I thought I was cool because I knew how to make homemade sidewalk chalk. I am humbled to the dust!!!

Plays with Needles said...

Boy, go away for a few days and look what happens! Bravo! I had to open up each pic to follow all the details but it was a great post. I'm very curious about velvet?? and that makes me wonder if silk velvet behaves differently than rayon...I too love the cotton.

When you ended on the peony...I smiled to myself. Last Spring, I "deconstructed" a tree peony and labeled all of the petals and the layers so that I could make a template and recreate one. I remember there being 31 pieces!! And here, I come here today, and you've done it!!!!!!!!!...I think there's something going on between us...
I love nothing better than to see you play and experiment. Have a play-filled day, Susan

Patricia said...

How much fun you're having!You make me feel like I could just jump right in and get started - not. You are amazing the way you will tackle anything, a real inspiration, thanks.
Stop by my blog, there's a surprise waiting for you there.
Pat
Patricia Rose-A Potpourri of Fabric, Fragrance and Findings
www.patriciarose-apotpourri.com
www.patriciarose-apotpourriof.blogspot.com

Soleil de Minuit said...

I put you a page of my blog which can interest you.
Thanks for your works. It's a pleasure to see it

Clairvaux and floristry

TattingChic said...

Beautiful work! Your flowers are just lovely! :)

Cristina - madhatter wannabe said...

Wonderful tutorial! I wrote a little bit on my blog about flower making too, but nothing as thorough as what you did!
Here is a link to my post: http://kuki.deprada.net/?p=250

Thanks for sharing, your flowers look wonderful!

Tanja said...

awesome! you are so creative!

Heather said...

Thanks for the very helpful information...I am getting ready to make Millinery for a swap and I am a bit SCARED!! Feeling a bit out of my element right now, but...I am sure I will be fine You have given me great pointers! Thanks so much!!

Nana said...

Beautiful flowers! I have the tools but i can't find the sand pillow:( Are they for sale anywhere?

Allison Ann Aller said...

Nana, thanks...I made my own sand pillow..just two layers of muslin treated as one, folded longwise, with the bottom and long side sewn up...filled it with sand, but not too full...and then whipestitched the top end closed. Piece of cake!

Arlene Baker said...

Hello ladies....for those who love flowermaking, I am reproducing the antique flower/leaf making tools that are molds...I have leaves, petals, flowers, etc. designs for sale. The molds are 2-pieces, aluminum very user friendly and you heat on an electric burner (like for camping or college dorms)or on an electric stove, not over an open flame. I am in Downey, Ca and if you'd like to learn more, contact me at 562-928-3583 or arlenebkr@aol.com
Would be happy to discuss with you-Happy Thanksgiving Arlene

Anonymous said...

Hi! Your tutorial is so helpful and inspiring! Your flowers are beautiful! Where did you buy the PVA glue for stiffening your fabric?

justyna said...

Hi,
I have a new Flower Making Tools for sale contact me: justynaa9@gmail.com
Justyna

Inna said...

Hi Allie. I thought you might care to know that it was very inspirational to see how you are feeling about materials. By learning old you are trying to create the-new-and-different. My great respect for that! And there is no need to prise your creation, as it is priceless anyway. It is only you know how much you gain from doing it. It is your way to tell us about your vision. And we appreciate sharing it with us. And don`t you dare stop on the way to mastery! :)
I am up to the "new discovery" myself, that why I can understand your willingness to go further and darer. :)
A little tip,did you ever try to use potato- or cornstarch for stiffening fabrics? It`s more natural and healthier...! Kind regards, Inna

Anonymous said...

Do you know what the "sand pillow" made of? we don't have such mat, the mat here maybe not sustain to such high temperature

Crystal Lynn Kamm said...

I definitely an beginning to work on pressing my own flowers also. I think it helps to disassemble a store bought fabric flower to see how they go together before making your own. It offers a great perspective for what you need to cut out for your own flowers! :)

christy kerling said...

So pretty!!!Really LOVE this art! Have been interesting for years in making my own flowers! Just purchased my first french milinary tool set!How long does it take to master this, or at least make half way decent Thanks for sharing!!!

christy kerling said...

Thanks for sharing this!!!!Getting my first set of french milinary tool!Have watched tutorials & read about milinary for ages and have always wanted to learn this art form! How much practice does it take to make flowers as pretty as the ones here? Thank you : ) Christy

Jan Wutkowski, Milliner said...

Great post! Thought you and your readers would be interested in knowing there is a new book out on French Flowermaking. I was lucky enough to be the English Technical Editor. Original book is written in Mandarin Chinese. I have these for sale on my website. www.hatshatshats.com/shop.htm. Hope that is OK to post. Flowermaking is FUN!

Tyra said...

I looked up tsukineko inks and have a question. Are you using all purpose ink and if so, how do you heat set the color?
Thanks
Tyra

Tyra said...

Take a look at the tools on Lacis.com. They have different price levels and packages, lots of options and the tools are electric.

Vemula Madhu said...

great art,thank u for the posting this pics
buy sarees online india| designer wedding sarees| best saree websites| fancy salwar kameez|kanchipuram silk sarees online|indian saree online store

sneha sri said...

great art
wedding sarees online | salwar kameez online | sarees online shopping | buy indian sarees online | saree manufacturers

sneha sri said...

nice blog
wedding sarees online | salwar kameez online | sarees online shopping | buy indian sarees online | saree manufacturers