My Material Life

A Linen & Silk Flower for Alison

I’m so excited to go to an old college roommate’s birthday party later today.  She lives just a couple of hours away, but I haven’t seen Alison since she was 19 or 20 and now she’s 50 – how can that possibly be?!  We were roommates for just a short time, but after we lived together I moved to another apartment complex where I had a neighbor named Cliff who I knew would be just perfect for Alison.  On some Thursday nights my roommate Lisa and I would have Cliff and his roommate Steve over to watch Cheers and eat Taco Works chips and drink beer.  I must say I did have a soft spot for Steve, but he was a year behind me and I just couldn’t see myself with a younger man.  After the party I’ll have to track down Lisa and tell her I saw Cliff.

I was right about Alison and Cliff; they got married and in the early years of their marriage I’d get Christmas cards or birth announcements, one child after another, until they ended up with three beautiful children.  I saved those cards because, well, I always thought I had a hand in those three beautiful children being here.  Isn’t that funny?  But then we lost touch as old friends tend to do until Alison found my phone number a couple of years ago.  And that brings us up to today, the party day.

I thought I’d make Alison a fabric flower that could be a memento of her special celebration.  I love fabric flowers.  They’re so versatile.  You can pin them to your sweater or a handbag, wear them tied around your wrist or in your hair.  You can attach a name on a ribbon or piece of paper and use them at a place setting or as a favor for your guests.  They’re pretty quick to make and you can use scraps of materials you already have.  This one is made from the same IKEA linen that I embroidered my blog title on seen in the header above, as well as pink linen from Britex (Irish maybe?) and pink silk satin from Thai Silks.  It’s based on the instructions from an article by Gillian Conahan in the April/May 2014 issue of Vogue Patterns magazine.

These are the folds shown in the article to allow you to cut a six-petaled flower.

You would begin your cutting on the bottom edge of the folded piece shown in the last photo, towards the top of the edge, but making sure you’re at a point where you would be cutting through all the layers of your fabric.  The point you begin at becomes the center of your petals.  You can play with different petal shapes and sizes of layers.  I liked the shape I got when I used two larger flower pieces (the natural linen and one pink) and one smaller flower piece (another pink).  I cut a freehand circle from the satin for the flower center and fringed the edges with my scissors.  I started with 4-3/4″ linen squares.

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As suggested in the article, I stacked my flower layers and made a circle of running stitches in the middle that I gathered together and tied off in the back.

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Since I was using the satin in the center I pushed it outwards as I gathered the stitches to form a little bud.  The flowers in the article are gathered with the centers pushed inward and so look more like the back of my flower above.  I decided I needed more dimension, so I added another round of running stitches, outside my previous ring and underneath the satin.

mml linen flower second round

As I did this I imagined myself working in some famous designer’s haute couture atelier.  That’s what hand stitching something pretty will do to you.  Lucky for me I only needed to make one.  I hope Alison likes it.  I’m going to give her the linen bag too.

Now for finishing the back:

The flower above is from H&M; I love the way they finish their flowers in the back with both a pin and a clip – so thoughtful.  You can get pins and clips from the jewelry making section of your local craft store.  Then use something round as a guide for cutting a circle of felt.  Sharp-pointed scissors are helpful for cutting two slits in your felt round for each piece of hardware, but you might have to play with where to place them.  Finally, use an adhesive such at Fabri-Tac to glue the felt piece and hardware to the back of the flower.

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