Sunday, 15 June 2014

Coming up roses

I had expected to be posting about my entry for the Politics of Fashion today, but then Life had other ideas, and generally got in the way. So instead I’m posting about one specific part of the project, and sharing some of the lovely images I came across in the process of my ‘research’ (aka spending ages on Pinterest and trying not to drool on the keyboard!)

The dress I am making is trimmed with small fabric roses. Not embroidered roses like these.

Liberty 'Aesthetic' dress, August Auctions

And not a single, large, dramatic rose like this.

Nordic Museums, 1914

Or this (not actually a rose, but you get the idea).

Couldn't find any details for this one

Or multiple, large, dramatic roses like these.

Les Modes (Paris) 1910, Robe de Diner by Zimmermann

What I am after is more something like the roses on this.

Paul Poiret, 1910

Rose detail

Three dimensional fabric flowers were clearly very popular in the early twentieth century. I can’t quite make out how the flowers on this dress are constructed, but it’s clear that they stand out slightly from the dress itself.

Another purple and cream dress with no information!

Quite often the flowers are created from ribbons, a technique still used today.

Lucile, 1912, Whitaker Auction

Bodice detail

Skirt detail

However I have no idea how these roses were created, with their turned back petals.

Edwardian dress, detail

Fabric flowers were still appearing in the 1920s, as seen on this example from All The Pretty Dresses.

1920s dress, detail

And they weren’t confined to dresses either. This evening bag is high on my Want To Make list.

Evening bag, early to mid-20th century, found by The Dreamstress

Eventually I decided that I really needed to turn my attention to how to actually make fabric roses, and found several tutorials online. First up was Julie Bowersett’s blog, From These Hands. As the instructions were from vintage flower making books written around the turn of the twentieth century, this looked hopeful.

The flowers are made from squares of fabric folded in half diagonally, then gathered round the edges to form petals, which are then stitched together. I must admit that I made this up quite quickly, and the satin I need to use for the dress probably wasn’t the best fabric to start with. The end result is pretty (a combination of flash photography and shiny fabric really doesn’t do it justice), but looser than the style I’m after.

Petals gathered and ungathered, and the rose in progress

The completed rose

Next I found A Gilded Life. The roses in this tutorial are made by rolling and twisting a strip of fabric which has been folded lengthways. The problem with this is that the raw edges of the strip will sometimes show, which is fine for a modern look and/or fabrics which don’t fray much, but not for a period look in satin.

Finally I came across Stacy Vaughn’s blog. This tutorial was similar to the one on A Gilded Life, but the fabric strips were sewn into tubes first. No raw edges! And her example was made from satin! I wasn’t sure if I should press the tube once it had been turned right side out, but there was no mention of doing so. In the end I found that it was best not to press it, as the slight indentation at the seam added more depth to the ‘petals’. I used a strip 4.5cm / 1¾“ wide by75cm / 29½“ long, with a 3mm / ⅛” seam, and the end result was just what I was after.

Fabric strip, and the rose in progress

The completed rose

The tube method creates a flatter, more compact rose

Now all I have to do is make 5 more the same!


  1. Oh yeah! I love fabric roses and you have done a fabulous job on yours! I love to color too.....Beautiful!

    1. Thank you Gina! I managed to take some better photographs of the finished roses today, in natural light. I've just updated the post with them.

  2. Oh how pretty! Thank you for the information!