A collection of flowers. A panoply of kanzashi flowers. A range of silk flowers. An array of handmade flowers. A multitude of hand-dyed flowers. An assemblage of pink and purple flowers. A lot of flowers.
Aren’t they so very bright and happy! And cheerful and fun! Okay, okay, I’ll lay off the thesaurus, I promise. I handmade and hand-dyed each of these flowers from silk noile from Minerva Crafts for my Minerva Craft Blogger project this month. Kanzashi is a Japanese method of folding fabric into individual petals and then sewing them together into flowers. I followed instructions in the book Kanzashi in Bloom by Diane Gilleland. The instructions in the book are great, but it’s worth noting that the vast majority of the book is ideas for using the flowers in projects.
Diane has a how-to video on her website that’s a great resource if you want to make your own kanzashi flowers. Minerva also sells kanzashi templates, which I didn’t use, but would be a great way to get started with the project.
I started by cutting different width strips of the silk using a rotary cutter and cutting mat. I found it to be the fastest and easiest way since I was planning on making a TON of flowers, but it’s certainly not necessary. You can cut strips using shears or make a cardboard template for the size square you want and cut the fabric directly into squares using the template.
After cutting the strips, I cut them into squares (for my first batch of dying) because I wanted to be able to experiment with different effects of dying the squares in patterns. For my second batch I dyed the strips and then cut them down to squares after dying – much easier to do than dealing with individual squares and still easy to get different colors and patterns. Remember to pre-wash your fabric – seriously guys, super important – before cutting the squares because it WILL shrink when dying.
I used RIT liquid dye and followed the instructions on the bottle, adding vinegar because I was dying silk. I had an old bottle of blue that I added a dash of at the end of my dying so that I could get some purple in my flowers too. The process was much like when I hand dye yarn, so check out my post on hand dying yarn if you want more information on how to get different variations of color when dyeing.
I experimented with dying just the outside and just the inside of different squares to get gradient effects on the petal. Dying just the outside puts color at the center of the flower and just the inside of the square puts it at the tip of the petal.
I had fun mixing colors and intensities, both on individual petals and within flowers. I love how the silk noile takes the dye so beautifully and maintains a bit of structure and texture. It really was the perfect fabric to use on this project.
I used two different petal types to make the flowers. The rounded petal is the one that I have seen most in kanzashi in the craft world. To keep it from coming unfolded in the back, I ran an extra round of stitching to tack the back of the petals in place. They can be glued down as well, but I didn’t want to add any glue to the flowers until I was totally sure where and how I wanted to use them.
The second petal is a pointed petal. Both sides of the petal can be used as the right side. One gives a single crease and a daisy-like appearance while the other side shows lots of folds – almost orchid-like.
When stitching together the individual petals into a flower, I had fun bringing different colors, petals, and sizes into the same flower. Combining those variables with the hand dye and every flower is different from every other.
The centers of the flowers are raw fabric and so need to be finished. A fun way to cover the center is to glue on buttons or vintage earrings.
Each flower ends up about the size of the square of fabric that goes into each petal. So, 7 4″ squares of fabric will fold into a flower that has 7 petals and is 4″ across. I used squares of 4″, 3″, and 2″ fabric and found that the the larger was definitely easier to work with. I wouldn’t recommend going any smaller than 2″, especially with this weight of fabric.
I have so many ideas for these flowers and I can wait to start using them for projects. The majority of them are going to be made into my wedding bouquet and I want some to go into my veil and they would make a beautiful statement necklace, oh my! How would you use this plethora of kanzashi flowers? I’d love to hear some of your ideas!