Monday, July 30, 2012

How to wire flowers

wreath 2

My mom taught me a lot about sewing and embroidery, but she also taught me a great deal about floral arrangements.  For many, many years, my mom made wedding bouquets and funeral swags while working at Bachman's.  She's very good at it -- you can see some of her wonderful arrangements in some of my wedding photos I have shared in this post (all the flowers there are real, not silk).  She did all of the flowers for my wedding -- all of the bouquets and flowers at the church and reception (including all of the table arrangements).  They were all so beautiful.  Over the years, I learned a great deal from watching her and as I got older, I helped her too.

Since I was making a wreath for my new patio, I thought I'd share a simple technique which is very useful in floral arranging -- how to wire a flower.

wreath 1

Wiring flowers is very simple and it makes floral arranging very easy.  Once a flower is wired, you can make it sit exactly where you want it to and it won't move.  You can use them in bouquets, on wreaths, table settings . . . the list goes on.  You can wire both silk and real flowers.

Floral tape comes in three main colors: white (typically used in bridal bouquets), green (for most projects - to make the "stem" look green), and brown (used when you want the stem to look more woody).  Since I'll be attaching my flowers to a grapevine wreath, I'll use brown floral tape. 

floral tape

You'll need some floral wire too.  I used 22-guage.  It's a nice balance between being strong and flexible (i.e. easy to use).  You can get it in a spool like this and simply cut what you need or you can get some more expensive pre-cut pieces. 

floral wire and tape

I'll be using some simple silk flowers and a 24" diameter grape vine wreath.

silk and grape

Cut your flowers into small groups (or single flowers if they're large).

small bunches

Using wire cutters, cut a piece of wire (about a foot in length) and loop it around part of the stem.

adding wire

Twist the wire around the plastic stem to secure it.

adding wire 2

Grab the floral tape.  Floral tape is very tacky.  When you're starting to wrap your flower stem and wire in floral tape, you should start above where the wire is.  

adding floral tape

As you wrap the floral tape around your stem/wire, give the floral tape a little pull to stretch it out.  It gives quite a bit and stretching it slightly will help get the tape tight around the stem.  Don't worry if you stretch it a bit too much and it breaks.  Don't undo what you've done, just start wrapping the tape again from where you are.

adding floral tape 2

There's a simple way to do this quickly, once you get the hang of using the floral tape.  You can hold the flower in one hand and floral tape in the other and spin the flower in your hand (left hand in photo below) while you gently stretch and attach the floral tape with the other (right hand -- hard to see floral tape, but it's there).

adding floral tape 4

adding floral tape 3

Keep going until you've covered all the wire.  Using wire cutters, trim any extra wire.

finished stem

Continue with all of your flowers.  Your hands will get pretty sticky from the floral tape, so you might want to wire all of your flowers first, then tape them.

ready to be used

As I mentioned before, there's a great deal you can do with your flowers once they're wired.  You can tape them together in larger bunches to make bouquets or tape them together into a circle to make a crown or wreath.  You can arrange them in styrofoam for a centerpiece or you attach them to a pre-made wreath.  I'll be attaching them to a grapevine wreath which will hang outside. There are many ways to do this -- this is what I do.

To start, just grab one flower stem and gently push it through the wreath.

adding flowers

You'll see the other end poke through the back.

adding flowers 2

Wrap the end of the wire around the sticks of the wreath to secure in place.

adding flowers 3


adding flowers 4

Continue until your wreath is covered to your liking.

adding more flowers

Finally if your wreath doesn't have anything to hang it from, you can make your own hanger with a bit of your floral wire (I covered mine with my brown floral tape so it blends in).  Just take your wire and wrap it around the wreath a couple times and make a little loop and secure it with a few twists.

wreath 1

Final view on the porch::

view 1

view 2

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Modern Art for a QuiltCon block

The Modern Quilt Guild is getting ready for their first convention appropriately named QuiltCon this February.  As part of the fun, they have a block challenge which you can make a quilt block that's 12.5" by whatever, using the official quiltcon colors (solids or prints).  My local chapter of the Modern Quilt Guild (MMQG) decided to do a fabric exchange so we could each purchase a yard of one of the fabrics and exchange fat eights to get all the colors we needed.  I was assigned a tangerine print -- (you can see it in my finished block).  I really had fun designing and making this block.

mod art quiltcon block

OK -- a bit about the block itself . . . I was inspired by modern art for this block -- no specific piece -- just my idea of modern art.  I really liked how it came together (at least on the second attempt - I'll show you the first in a second).  I wanted to incorporate a bit of print with the solid to give it depth and character, but not get too busy even though it's a busy design.  What do you think??

mod art quiltcon block, final

It came together so well, I even had to show you the back too!!  Yes, this block is all pieced (no applique).  The circles came together perfectly and so did all of the curvy bits -- no puckers!!

beautifully pieced back

back of curved piece

Here's attempt #1 -- I will not be sending this block in for the challenge.  It has several puckers (which I've circled for you) and I unintentionally made the mirror image of my original design.  No one would know that little fact but me, but it annoyed me.

block attempt #1

Biggest mistake here was rushing -- I didn't take my time on this block, and it shows.  On the second block (at the top of the post), I took my time, and the block came out perfectly.  This second block is going to be part of a charity quilt that the MMQG is putting together - so it won't be wasted.

block attempt #1, mirror

The finished block size is 12.5" square.

Original design copyrighted by Vanessa Lynch of Punkin Patterns.

Friday, July 20, 2012

A "New" Chair

I was really excited about this rummage sale find.  I picked up this beautiful chair for $2.50!!  I thought about painting it, but the aged look to the finish grew on me, so I left that part as is -- well, I did scrub it really well to get it nice and clean.  It needed a new cushion ($5) and new fabric to recover.

recovered chair

The fabric I chose was a corduroy floral print from the Lisette line (from Oliver + S) which I picked up at Jo-Ann.  I found it on clearance (and with a coupon), I only spent $1 on the fabric.  Yay!  If you'd like to read about how to recover chairs --- go here.

recovered chair 2

Love how it looks!  And I love that I spent less than $10 on the whole thing! 

recovered chair 3

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Making Seam Binding

I'm guest blogging over at the Minneapolis Modern Quilt Guild (MMQG) blog today with a tutorial on how to make your own inexpensive, beautiful seam binding.  See you there!

beautiful bias tape

Saturday, July 7, 2012

25 Blocks . . . DONE!

Granny Square

I just finished up making 25 of these granny squares.  I started out making 11 for a cookie exchange with other members of the MMQG, however, I wasn't able to drop them off in time for the exchange.  So instead, I just thought I'd make some more for a larger quilt and have them all match.

The fabrics used: Oliver + S - City Weekend, Heather Ross - Mendocino Kelp Forest and Studio e - Fresh Aire.  I used a strip piece method to piece the blocks.

Now my 25 blocks are done, time to trim and figure out how I want to sew them together.

Granny Square


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