Monday, January 31, 2011

How (I like) to sew sweater flowers

After trying a no-sew, no-glue sweater flower approach, I decided to branch out a little. I enjoy sewing and this is one of those projects for which you don't need a sewing machine or fancy stuff or a lot of space. Anyone can do this with just an old sweater, a needle and thread, and some scissors.

There's no end to the different ways you can make a sweater flower. Lots of people have done it. Lots of people sell them. I honestly have no idea who did it first, but one link trail on the spiral method led me back to something Martha Stewart reportedly made out of paper over a decade ago. I think I will start with links to some of my favorites that others have done...

June Pfaff Daley shows how to glue spiral method flowers
This brooch tutorial from Betz White is just awesome

My first attempt at a sweater flower was the spiral method. It seemed the easiest. Start by cutting a spiral from a circle like this.

Then you could wrap it starting from the outside (that little point can be cut off later).

Or you could start on the inside, for a different look.

For this one, I decided to go back and cut wide, irregular notches all along the spiral (but you could do rounded petals, slits, or whatever).

This is how it stacked up pre-sewing.

One thing that's important to me while sewing is that the thread is *not* doubled. This will allow you to pull the needle off when you are done and start on a new flower, and when you decide what you want to sew your flower onto you can re-thread the needle with that already-attached thread and you're set. Anyway, when I sewed it I jumped all around the flower, sewing over and behind a layer here and there. This pinches the fabric down and gives the look of individual petals without extra cutting.

It ended up like this. This is pretty much what I have, in red, on my Valentine's shrug. On most of those I cut a really big spiral but didn't go all the way to the center of the circle. This makes it so the flower doesn't look so flat in the middle, and to me it looks more rose-like.

All the flowers I've made so far have been different, because all of them have been improvised. Sitting down with a bunch of pretty colors and the scissors and just experimenting for an hour or two is fun! There are thousands of possibilities.

You could cut off the bottom edge of your sweater...

And make a little roll for the center of your flower.

And then you could cut some petals like this...

And roll it up so it looks nice and sew through all the layers, from one side to the other, back and forth until there are stitches around the whole thing.

Which would turn out about like this.

You could fold up one of those leftover circle pieces...

And roll it to make a center like this. (Ha! There's Jordy driving. You can even do this in the car; I did!)

And add pointy petals like these...

To create this.

You could use multicolored sweaters.

You could use several different sweaters that are all different colors. You can add leaves or not (this one is a pin I made for someone recently).

A button or bead could make a pretty center for your flower. You can keep adding petals until the flower is huge!

And then there are all the different things you could decorate with those flowers. Aside from the obvious headband/hair clip, I plan to completely cover the inside of Baby Robert's plaster belly cast with them, and then lay him in the middle of all those flowers and take pictures. I'm also stashing a bunch of flowers to decorate various handmade Christmas gifts for next year. Gotta get ahead!

Anyway, there are endless possibilities and this is a fun creative project to try out while we wait for spring. So get yourself some shrunken sweaters and get started!


Theresa said...

You are on a serious roll! I love the sweater roses - they're beautiful

Megan said...

I made some more with one of my thicker sweaters and they came out much better. I think that hot pink sweater was a little thin to make them how I was trying. I'm thinking about making a Valentine's wreath out of them. I just can't decide if I want to part with the one red sweater I have that fits Aiden now that it's felted... hmmm.

Anonymous said...

So fun - thanks for the tutorial!