How to Make Crepe Paper Flowers

comments (5) April 28th, 2010     

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thecrimsonpoppy thecrimsonpoppy, member
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Photo: photos by Rex Barrett for the crimson poppy, (c)2010 the crimson poppy, llc
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You've heard it all before: crepe and tissue paper flowers are fun, easy, economical, environmentally friendly, long-lasting, more or less non-allergenic, and a dozen other fabulous features I take for granted and have failed to mention here.

If you're like me, you found online tutorials that had confusing text instructions or a video you followed super-carefully when cutting and gluing and twisting and folding ... and when it was all said and done, you had a globby, lop-sided, not-so-great-looking paper flower that wasn't realistic in the least.

The wonderful truth is that crepe paper flowers don't have to turn out that way.  I was amazed to learn I absolutely LOVE to make them (so much so my goal is to make them my "day job" within the next year) because they have such potential to be fun and easy and economical and painless once you get the hang of making them.  The catch, it would seem, is how much of your time and sanity is involved in "getting the hang of it"; with a little luck, this paper flower "general how-to" info will save you both!

When you make paper flowers, here's what you should know:

- All glue is not created equal when it comes to making paper flowers.  Paper, especially crepe paper, is more fragile when wet, so elmer's or a very liquid craft glue is not going to serve you well.  After a great deal of trial and error, I've settled on Crafter's Pick Craft Glue - The Ultimate! to make my paper flowers because it's very thick, very fast drying, and needs only the tiniest amounts to work beautifully.  Since it's carried at both Michael's and Hobby Lobby, I have no problem finding it on short notice in spite of my small-town shopping limitations.  Glues made specifically for paper abound, so try a few different glues in order to find what works best for you.

- The couple of dollars involved in a fine tip glue applicator is more than worth it.  Control over how much glue goes where, a longer reach into the flower for touch-ups as you work on it, and occasional functioning as a third hand to hold something in place when you're making seven thousand, three hundred and forty two paper flowers for your wedding decorations is a very good thing.

- Crepe paper has nifty stretch and a grain (or "direction") you must consider, but it can be easily shaped.  Tissue paper is a "no" for all three of those things. I like crepe paper for realism and tissue paper for whimsy.

- Look closely at those crepe paper folds you're about to buy. Two things here, and the first is: a) buy FOLDS, not streamers. Yes, streamers are easier to find, and they're sooooo close to the right size, but ... they're not.  I'm never as pleased with my paper flowers if I use them.  Go for the crepe paper folds, even if you have to search online.  

Which leads me to b): the better quality crepe paper you buy, the more petal-like your flowers will be. Fine crepe from Castle in the Air or Blumchen doesn't have the rough, almost knotty texture I see in the folds available in my local craft stores, and it has a huge impact on the final look of my paper flowers.

- Turn the paper, not the scissors. Turn the paper as you're cutting and you'll get smooth edges; turn the scissors instead and you'll find little jags and tears you'll swear up and down you didn't put in there.

- Speaking of cutting, it's 3 layers doublette crepe, 6 layers fine crepe maximum at a time. Yes, I know the article you read online said you can cut up to eight layers of single and four double at one time, and no, I won't be offended that you have to try it a couple of times in hopes you'll get a few extra petals out of the deal even though I advised against it.  I learned the hard way, too. ;)

- A box of tiny binder clips works great to hold your pattern in place; find a balance between too many clippies and not enough clippies.  You'll know you when have too many because the paper not in your hand is so weighted down by clips that it flops over and tugs at the paper you're holding; not enough is obvious because in spite of one lonely clip eleven inches away and the force of your thumb grasping the paper, your crepe paper moves around while you're cutting, leaving you with paper flower petals that resemble abstract seagulls.

I start out generous in my clip use and take them off as I cut along a pattern; I also move the clips around to be sure the paper flower petal is held securely on all sides the entire time I am cutting. It sometimes takes me as long or longer than the actual cutting to get my pattern and paper lined up perfectly, smooth and even and without bunches, and clipped in place.  If it didn't make such a huge difference, I wouldn't bother; none of us have enough hours in the day as it is.

- In spite of sounding like a perfectionist with all these details, I'm not, and you shouldn't be, either.  Mother Nature puts bent petals on flowers and oddball dimples in the middle of a leaf, so your "goof" should not induce panic.

- If you're new to using it, stem tape will test your resolve. You'll get better with practice, but if you've got one big DIY project and may not do it again for years, don't torture yourself. Uncoated, skinny floral wire doesn't help, so start with paper-covered floral wire stems that will grab the tape, be easier to work with, and are more realistic when it comes to stem thickness.

- Just a couple of extras will make your day.  Go ahead with an extra copy of your pattern, one extra fold of paper, and an extra set of paper flower petals cut for each project.  Being nearly finished with a paper flower and realizing you dropped one petal, scooted your chair back over it and ripped it to shreds, and will now have to start the entire prep process again before you can finish is enough to make the toughest crafter want to weep into the Mod Podge.

That feeling of victory when you know you've outsmarted your project, though, only adds to the bliss of holding up a gorgeous paper flower you made all on your own.

Have a general "how to make paper flowers" question I didn't answer above? Just use the comment section for this article and I'll do my best to help! :)

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posted in: how-to, DIY, gift, wedding, flowers, tips, crepe paper, helpful hint, paper-flower

Comments (5)

Amycannon writes: Your artwork is wonderful. I love your website and refer to the great photographs when I make my paper flowers. I've been using cardstock paper and rubbing it with an embossing tool to make it more malleable. But after reading your article, I'm inspired by your use of crepe paper. I'll be purchasing the doublette and fine crepe papers from the online store you mentioned in your article. Thanks for sharing your hints and tips. I can't wait for the upcoming video tutorial!
Posted: 3:44 am on June 6th
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Posted: 2:35 am on May 20th
thecrimsonpoppy writes: thanks, dangermouse013; I'm glad you enjoyed the helpful hints! happy flower-making to you :)

MissyLinda, every flower is different and has its own specific petals. Some people want abstract and a little quirky, others want very realistic flowers, so that makes a difference, too. I'll have a tutorial up before long that I hope you'll enjoy, but in general, I consider the patterns I've created or adapted proprietary. Thank you for the compliment of being interested in them, though! :D You'll find a lot of different flower patterns and how-to's online, especially at YouTube. I made my first paper flower from a pattern at FoldingTrees.com
Posted: 7:47 pm on May 5th
MissyLinda writes: Hello, do you have a pattern for the petals you used ?
Thank you.
Posted: 1:35 pm on May 5th
dangermouse013 writes: This is a fantastic article. I never thought I could take on the paper flower, but this article makes me feel like I've already mastered it.
Posted: 9:26 pm on April 29th
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