August 26, 2011


I'd seen a few "how to make fabric roses" tutorials here and there on teh interwebs and thought that it looked fairly easy. Turns out it takes quite a bit of skill (and luck) to make a pretty rose! My first attempts looked like lumpy wadded up bits of scrap fabric. I tried a couple of different methods and some different fabrics and pretty much failed at them all. Sadly, I can't find the photos I took of those first horribly ugly attempts, otherwise I'd post them in all their terrible glory.

Dramatic reenactment of first attempt.

But bit by bit I figured out which things worked. I ended up combining things from a few tutorials and finally came up with a passable rose! I'll try my best to show what I did, but be forewarned that while it seems simple, doing it well involves fiddling and practicing till you find what works for you and your fabric.

Back when I dyed the bottom ruffle I also tossed in some extra silk gauze and some silk organza so I could play with both and see which worked best. My original plan was to use the gauze as I thought it might make beautifully soft roses, but it turned out it looked terrible no matter what I did! I'd guess it's too soft and flimsy to hold a good shape, although it might be fun to try doing it again using a stiffer fabric to support the gauze. That might be a good way to get pretty two-toned roses actually...

Anyways, I quickly figured out that the organza was going to work best. I cut a strip about 3" wide and 27" long and pressed it in half lengthwise. Then I turned the edges inside to meet the fold and pressed again. Basically I made double-fold bias tape, except it hadn't been cut on the bias.

Non-bias bias tape. The raw edges are all inside the fold.

I folded one end down a bit, rolled it in some to create a point at the top, then wound the strip around the folded/ rolled part a time or two to create the start of a bud. I pinched it at the bottom and sewed a couple of stitches through all the layers at the base to hold it all together.

One end folded over

The fold was rolled inwards; making it tighter at the top and looser at the bottom
gives it a conical shape with a nice point at the end. This is the beginning of the bud.

A loose wrap around or two...

... and stitch the bottom to keep it all secure

Here's where it gets a little tricky- from here on out you continue to wrap the strip loosely around your bud, but every so often you "twist" it; that is, you fold it outwards and continue wrapping. The edge that was on the top will now be on the bottom and there will be a twist that resembles the slightly curled edge of a petal. There's no rhyme or reason to when you do this; you just make those folds whenever they seem appropriate.  I also varied how loosely/tightly I wrapped it. Every so often you should pause and sew a few stitches in the bottom to keep everything together.

In the process of making the first fold.

This is after a few more wraps and folds. I'm about ready to make another fold.

I've folded the strip outwards. The edge that was on top is now on the bottom...

...and continue wrapping.

Don't forget to stitch through all layers at the bottom after every few wraps!

Clear as mud? I tried to take a video of the process, but I can't for the life of me get my camera to focus on anything close up, so after six videos of a blurry reddish blob moving about I gave up. Anyways, finishing it off- when I'd wrapped and folded to the point that the rose was looking nice and full, I folded the strip once more, this time angling the whole strip towards the bottom instead of back around the flower again. I stitched it securely, cut off the unused portion of the strip and stitched everything some more just to be sure.

Ta-Da! This was my first successful rose!

Then I made more...

...and even MORE!

I needed one for every bottom juncture of the lattice plus a few for the bertha of the bodice. I put the prettiest ones aside for the bodice; I figured they'd be closer to eye level and I wanted them to look their best. For foliage I used pinking shears to cut leaf shapes out of the green silk. I lined up each bottom lattice juncture directly over the uppermost point of the ruffles, placed the leaves at the center of each juncture and stitched all the way through the skirt. Once that was secure I centered each rose on top of each set of leaves and stitched that down as well.

All that was left to do on the skirt was finish up the closures. I put a large hook and bar on the waistband and used hook and eye tape to join the back halves of the green pointed part of the overskirt. Done!


  1. Nicely done =) I love the dramatic first try.

  2. testing testing my damn blog ate my last comment.

  3. *sigh* Apparently Firefox now forces you to allow third party cookies in order to comment? I certainly hope there's another way around that.

    Anyways, hey you! You might find it even funnier to know that my dramatic reenactment of the first try still looked better than the actual first try :P

  4. Holy moly! That is going to be one stunning outfit once it's complete. Your roses are lovely! I can't wait to see the bodice come come together now!

  5. Or rather, I guess it is already together, but I'm looking forward to reading the the rest of your posts about it!

  6. Thanks so much Jo! I'm a huge fan of your blog. I've learned a thing or two from you ;)

  7. Thanks for the tutorial! Trying to make roses to applique on my wedding dress and I'm totally using your method

  8. Good luck with the roses and congrats on your wedding!

  9. I really appreciate this demo!! I am making roses for an artwork and I scaled mine down -- using ballet pink silk organza, and it's working beautifully!

  10. LOL--your description of the process makes me chuckle. I taught myself to make ribbon roses years ago and had to re-learn it recently. It really is a matter of trial-and-error. I love the effect you got with the organza! I must try it ASAP.

    1. Trial and error is really a huge part of it, though I'm of the opinion that cursing is an integral part of the process too :P The organza really does lend itself to this type of thing, doesn't it?


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