Sunday, 17 September 2017

Flowers - part 1

Only a short post this week, as I've been away for the weekend and am not long back. It's been a hatting-related jaunt; to a flower-making weekend at The Millinery Studio in Huddersfield. The studio is run by Sue Carter and Marie Thornton, who regularly teach at Hat Works.

Yesterday was all about beaded flowers. We began with seed beads threaded onto wire, which was then bent to form flower and leaf shapes.

Examples of simple beaded flowers and leaves

In the afternoon we moved on to making individual petals by joining beads together with much finer wire. We started off with large beads, to learn the technique (there are two examples on the left of the photo above), before moving on to seed beads.

Flowers made from individual beaded petals.

I loved this technique so much that I carried on in my hotel room in the evening! Despite this, I haven't got a completed flower to show, so here's a close-up of one of Marie's beautiful examples.

Beaded flowers on a headband

Today we moved on to silk flowers. Again there were two types, but the technique was the same for both. For the first flower we cut out different sizes of multiple petal shapes, from stiffened dupion silk.

Flower pieces

These are then dampened, and shaped using heated metal tools.

Flower-making tools

'Action shot' of shaping the fabric, and a single petal in the foreground

Once shaped, the pieces had to be left to cool and dry; and this was where Sue and Marie's collection of beautiful vintage china cups came in handy!

Drying the petals in a cupped shape - quite literally

The second flower was made up of individual petals. These were shaped, and then assembled onto a wire 'stem'.

Rose petals, plus calyx and leaf

Again, this is not quite finished: I shall write a separate post about the completed items. There will doubtless be more to come, as I have finally found a use for all those small pieces of silk dupion and leftover packets of seed beads in my stash! Thanks to Sue and Marie for a fabulous weekend.

Update: I posted a picture of the proper flower-shaping tools because, let's face it, they look great. But you don't need to spend a fortune. Sue and Marie aren't known as "The Millinery Magpies" for nothing; they have assembled a collection of household objects which do the job just as well (just be careful how you hold them, as the handles get hot). Melon ballers, ice cream scoops, even a honey dipper with a ball-shaped decoration on the handle - you will never look at metal kitchen utensils in the same way again!

Bonus DIY tools photo for Cate!


  1. Such an interesting post! Thank you so much for sharing... I am really looking forward to seeing/ reading the next installment!

  2. I'd love to have a go at this but those tools are soooooo expensive! You're lucky you have somewhere to go where you can try them for yourself. Your flower turned out beautifully. xx

    1. Thank you Cate. Although the tools look lovely, you only really need something ball-shaped to curve the petals, and something smaller to curve the edges. I've added a photograph of some of Sue and Marie's other 'tools' to give you some ideas! xx