When I was young, I spent my summers at Camp Grandma. From pretty much the day school let out until Labour Day weekend my parents shipped me off to my Grandma's house and had, what I imagine was, a glorious 2 months of sunshine and silence.
My Grandma had a lake front home on a small farm that was the backdrop to many of my best memories. We would spend our days picking cantaloupes, making pickles, cutting flowers to take to my Grandpa's grave and doing crafts. Lots and lots of crafts. But these crafts weren't your standard macaroni-glued-to-an-empty-soup-can kind of crafts. We perfected our origami, practiced Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging), created beautiful dolls, worked on temari, and so many other Japanese crafts. One of the activities we would do is make Kanzashi flowers with chirimen fabric from her old kimonos.
I had actually forgotten about Kanzashi flowers until I saw this book while I was home for the holidays. Kanzashi flowers come in many shapes and sizes but this tutorial will show one of the easier flowers. I call it the basic flower because it teaches the basic process of putting a flower together. Plus it seems like the standard crafty Kanzashi :) You can find it in Etsy projects, in other tutorials, on Japanese trinkets and so on.
Once you know how to make this flower, you can find other petal patterns (or make them up!) or use origami patterns to take off in any direction. There's a slew of tutorials on the internet that are probably better than mine but here's the way my Grandma taught me.
A few notes about the basic Kanzashi flower:
- As a general rule, your finished flower will be the same size as the starting size of your petal squares. So, if you start with 2" squares, your finished flower will be 2" in diameter. This is only a general rule but it works most of the time.
- The larger the flower, the more petals you will need.
- The smaller the flower, the more difficult to manipulate.
- The basic flower seems to work best with an even number of petals.
- Kanzashi's are forgiving so don't worry if your squares aren't perfect.
- 8 - 3" squares of fabric (one for each petal). If you want to make a 2" flower you only need 6 squares.
- needle and thread
- scissors, glue gun
- magnet, brooch pin, push pin, pipe cleaner and floral tape or whatever else you need for your intended purpose.
1. Take one square of fabric and fold in half to form a triangle. Next fold the two outer tips down to the center tip to create a smaller square (I'm sorry, I took this photo with the triangle pointing in the wrong direction).
2. Flip over the square with the "open" end toward the bottom. Fold each side into the center.
3. Now fold the fabric in half, encasing the two little flaps, that you just created, inside the fold. When you flip the petal over it will look like this.
4. Stick a pin through the flower about a third of the way down so that all the folds of the petal are caught by the pin. Repeat steps 1-4 for all your squares (petals).
5. Cut off the bottom of each petal at the point where the folded edges end, so that the petal has a flat bottom. Try to cut them about the same size but it's not a big deal if some are larger.
6. String all your petals about an 1/8" from the bottom, center edge (I actually strung about a 1/4" from the edge because I'm not good at eyeballing). I use a double thickness of thread.
7. Once all your petals are strung together, pull the two ends of the thread and tie a knot to lightly hold the petals in place. Tip: the shape of the current petal makes a nice flower but you will need to start with several more petals (and will have a larger hole to cover at the end - not a big deal).
We are going to make the petals more "open" or round. Stick your finger into each petal to press it open. This will sometimes cause the folds on the back side of the petal to come undone, but that's ok. That's what glue guns are for. You are more likely to encounter an unfolding backside if you don't have enough petals, like my flower. The tension from an extra petal is usually enough to hold the folds together.
In my flower, below, you can see some of the petals have a sort of "wing." One more petal would push those wings in.
On the back side you can see that some of the folds are popping out. With a sufficiently dense flower you can push the folds back in. In my flower I will use a drop of glue to hold down the rogue folds.
8. Cut a small circle of fabric to cover the hole on the back. The fabric also hides raw edges, helps hold in the folds, and gives a little structure to the flower. If you are going to turn your flower into a brooch or attach a stem for a vase, you might want to use felt circle instead of fabric.
If you used more petals, your petals should look more like the two petals at the bottom of the flower in the image below.
When you flip the flower over it will look like this:
9. Glue a button to the center and whatever accoutrement you need for the back and you are finished. To get the hand-stitched look, I wrapped the thread through the button holes then glued the button to the flower.
My finished flower came out less than 3". I suspect the size is because I didn't use 8 petals (fewer petals = smaller hole in the center). I probably cut them slightly short as well. The image below shows two 3" flowers. The blue one has 7 petals and right has 8 petals.
I hope this tutorial is useful for you! Please let me know if you use it - I'd love to see what you make!
Some uses for your flowers: napkin rings, decorate an embroidery hoop, magnets, push pins, "fake" flowers, brooches, barrettes, ponytail holders.