Remember that sweater vest that I made into a dress for Rei? Well, it also yeilded a pretty fabric flower!

I love this - it has a wonderfully distressed yet feminine edge, and it's so versatile! I still haven't decided if it wants to be a hair bow, a brooch, a purse accessory, part of a necklace, or an accent on a dress. Currently, it lives on my desk, waiting for the perfect home.

Get the tutorial after the jump!

You need:

  • Ribbed edging from an old sweater or shirt. I used the sleeve edging from a sweater vest. A cuff or ribbed hem would work too. The key is that your material must be fairly narrow, stretchy, and have one finished edge.
  • A strip of tulle about 1/2" wider than your ribbed edging, and at least 2 1/2' long. Longer is always better.
  • A button, stud, or other cool found object for the centre of your flower.
  • Sewing stuff and hot glue.

Start by sewing a decorative stitch along the finished edge of your ribbed material. I chose a daisy-chain-lookin'-thing (sure, it might have a real name) in keeping with the floral theme, and because it's a stitch I've never used on my still fairly new machine. Experiement with colour! I went for a monochromatic look for this flower, but there's no reason you should have to, if you are feeling a little more bold and bright. A simple zig-zag, or even a straight stitch would be fine, if that's what your machine does. The trick here is to go fairly slowly, stretching the fabric as much as you can. This stitching is going to lengthen the finished edge of your ribbing.

Just beginning to gather up the ribbing - there's still a long way to go here.

Using a good strong thread, machine baste along the opposite side of your ribbed material. Set your machine to the longest stitch possible, and leave long tails of thread at both the beginning and the end of your stitches. Pull the top thread tight (leave the bottom one alone) and gather your fabric along this edge. Unless your material is very thin, you'll need to gather from both ends. You want it to be as bunched up as possible - reaching its saturation point, if you will. This may take some fiddling. You'll end up with a seriously ruffly bit of fabric, a few inches long at the gathered edge. Once you have gathered to your satisfaction, tie the top and bottom threads together at each end to lock everything in place, and snip off your excess thread.

Do the same (baste and gather) with your strip of tulle. Tulle is the ultimate gathering material - the gathered edge should end up less than an inch long.

Fold the edges of your ribbed material to the back and secure with hot glue. Coil it into a rosette, with the gathered edge as the centre. It will most likely need to be coiled into a spiral shape, which gives your flower multiple layers of 'petals.' There will be a small hole down the centre (make sure it isn't much bigger than a pea). Secure your rosette with hot glue. I used a bit at each end of the strip, and then in a few more spots where it wanted to spring apart. Coil up your tulle as well, just barely overlapping the two ends. It should make a fairly flat disc (of frothy ruffle goodness), also with a small hole in the centre. Glue it to the back of your rosette, lining up the centres.

Glue your pretty button to the centre to hide the hole. I used a 1/2" pyramid stud (I have almost a thousand of the buggers lying around... Lesson for the kids: only buy something in bulk if you're 100% sure you'll be using lots of it) to keep with the monochromatic look and give my flower a little punk rock edge.

Glue a circle of felt to the back to hide the hole and give you a flat surface to attach a backing of your choice.

Wear your creation!