Fabric flowers add cheer and whimsy to rooms

  • By Hannah Milman / Martha Stewart Living Magazine
  • Wednesday, April 13, 2005 9:00pm
  • Life

Which kinds of flowers stay vibrant year-round? Fabric flowers, of course, which can be picked by the bunch at almost any crafts or dollar store.

Their petals may be made of synthetic fabric and their stems of plastic and wire, but today’s fake blossoms are surprisingly stylish. And they come in a garden’s worth of varieties: magnolias, mums, poppies and more.

Consider giving fabric flowers a fresh look. After turning them into chic, cheery home accents – such as decorative pillows, bulletin-board pushpins and picture holders – you’ll want to plant them in every room.

Napkin rings

Create napkin rings from fabric dahlias. The bursts of color will make a garden of your dining table.

1. Using wire cutters, snip a flower’s wire stem to 71/2 inches. Bend the stem into a C shape.

2. Using needle-nose pliers, bend the end of the wire to create a 1/2-inch hook. (This will latch onto the stem, just under the blossom.)

3. About 1/2 inch below the blossom, bend the wire to form a 90-degree angle, creating a small neck.

4. Wrap the wire around a rolled cloth napkin, and fasten the hook at the neck of the blossom.

Pillow covers

Embellished with bright flowers, pillows can enliven a casual living space. Adorn cushion covers with a few plump fabric mums or zinnias, or a multitude of delicate blossoms, such as hydrangeas.

1. Start with a throw pillow that has a removable cover. Using a disappearing-ink embroidery pen, mark where you want to position the blooms.

2. Pull a flower head off a stem, and then pull the flower apart, discarding the plastic center and any separators.

3. Align the center of a flower with one of the pen marks, and place a button over the flower’s center. Secure the button and bloom to the fabric with needle and thread.

Curtain accents

Faux flowers dancing along a curtain rod can bring a sense of whimsy to a room, especially when they’re bright poppies. Snip and bend flower stems to form curtain rings, and then slip the rings through buttonholes in a cafe curtain.

To continue the natural theme, you can use a painted tree branch as a curtain rod.

1. Sew buttonholes 1 inch from the top of the curtain at 6-inch intervals.

2. Using wire cutters, snip flower stems to about 8 inches (you will need one flower for each buttonhole in curtain).

3. Bend each wire almost in half. Using needle-nose pliers, make a small L-shaped hook about 1/2 inch from the end of each stem.

4. About 1/2 inch below each blossom, bend the wire at a 90-degree angle.

5. Slip each wire through a hole, bloom facing front. Hook the stem to close the loop, just below the base of the blossom.

6. To make the curtain rod, cut a 3/4-inch-thick tree branch to the correct size for your window. Paint it with white latex paint, and let dry. Run the rod through the stem loops, and hang it on cup hooks.

Picture holder

Enhance a framed print, photograph or family tree with the softness of ribbon and the grace of a single magnolia or other large blossom. The nail that holds up the frame will be hidden by the flower. Use flowers and ribbon in colors that complement the image or frame.

1. Snip off the flower’s blossom. Secure it to a hinged button cover (available at crafts stores) with fabric glue, and let dry.

2. Tie a length of ribbon to eye hooks on the back of the frame. Hammer a nail that has a C\,-inch head into the wall.

3. Hang the picture from the ribbon (if the frame is heavy, first hang it using hardware appropriate for your wall). Slip the flower-embellished button cover over the nail head.

Pushpin flowers

Plant a little color where you need it most: in the office. You can make fanciful pushpins with just fabric flowers and pins. They’re great for displaying memorabilia and for giving to-do lists some flair.

1. Use any small blooms; large ones will get in the way on a bulletin board. Begin by cutting off the stem as close to the bloom as possible, leaving the center intact.

2. Place a dab of fabric glue inside the center of the flower, and then push a ball-head pin through. Let dry for at least 2 hours before using.

Send questions to Living, care of The New York Times Syndication Sales Corp., 609 Greenwich St., 6th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10014-3610. E-mail living@nytimes.com.


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