How to Make Crepe-Paper Flowers
Crepe-paper flowers capture the essence of flowers without all the botanical details. Their whimsy makes them not only a pleasure to behold, but also an enjoyable project to undertake. They also offer several practical advantages over their natural cousins. Crepe paper won't wilt or droop, and in a corsage or boutonnière it rebounds well from frequent emotional embraces. The flowers can be made to perfectly match the style and palette of a celebration in any season, even if that means pink sunflowers in January (these blossoms need not mimic nature; on the following slides, we give the directions for specific flowers, but petals, stamens, and leaves can be altered, mixed, and matched).
Petals are usually the most prominent feature. Craft them from any type of paper, and cut single, continuous, or cuff petals. Give dimension to the flower by adding multiple layers of petals. You can further create visual interest on individual leaves by variegating them with a little paint. And don't forget that leaves add personality and texture. Craft them from all types of paper in varying shapes and sizes (there's extra fine crepe paper and heavy crepe paper), and attach them along the stem with floral tape. Often made from paper-covered spun cotton—fringe, pips, or a combination—the center is the first component that gets attached to the stem, which is a piece of floral wire (cloth-wrapped or paper-covered). Vintage and new floral pips, as well as paper fringe, add a lifelike quality to paper flowers.
Crepe-paper flowers can be prepared many months in advance and still look fresh in your bouquet. You can also, of course, make them all the week before the big event—each one takes about ten minutes. These flowers are delicate acts of creation, and making a bouquet's worth can provide you with many quiet moments of escape.
The single-petal method, as its name implies, is used to build a flower petal by petal. Each petal is individually shaped and pleated before being attached to the stem. To construct one of these flowers, first make the appropriate stamen from crepe paper and floral wire and cut the necessary number of petals and leaves from crepe paper. Then shape the petals, and attach them to the stamen with floral tape.
Use six petals, a fringe stamen, and two elongated leaves. Shape petals to cup inward slightly; roll three of them at the widest point to curve strongly inward. Pleat base of each petal; pinch folds in place. Attach heavily cupped petals to stamen; add remaining petals, overlapping slightly. Attach leaves low on the stem.
Use 35 petals and a button stamen. Shape petals to cup inward slightly. Pleat base of each petal; pinch folds in place. Attach to the stamen, positioning innermost petals low, with midpoints at the stamen's head; raise each subsequent ring of petals slightly. Curl the tips of petals inward.
Use five petals, a pistil stamen, and an elongated leaf. Fold petals in half lengthwise, crease, then unfold. Shape petals to cup outward at widest point. Attach to stamen in an evenly spaced ring, leaving the pistils inside the stamen long.
Use five small and seven large petals and a bud stamen. Cup petals at a point just below middle; curl upper edge outward. Pleat base of each petal; pinch folds in place. Attach petals to stamen, first positioning small petals lower on the stamen and tightly curled around it; raise each subsequent ring of petals slightly, overlapping petals.
Petals are shaped first, then attached to the stamen individually. To cup a petal, pinch it between thumbs and forefingers, thumbs near center, fingers at edges. Gently pull thumbs outward to stretch the crepe paper, opening up ridges; this will cup it inward into a concave shape. To curl a petal, roll it around a pencil. To pleat the base of a petal, pinch sides together; press folds in place.
To attach petals to stamen, stretch floral tape slightly, then wrap it twice around stamen. Add petals, wrapping tape across base of each as you add it. Once petals are added, wrap tape around twice more, then wrap down along stem to anchor and to attach leaves.
For this technique, a strip of paper cut with a fringe of petals is attached to a stamen, and petals are shaped afterward, sometimes several at a time. First make the stamen and cut petal strips and leaves. Then firmly wrap the strip of petals around the stamen or around itself; secure with floral tape. Practice so the strip doesn't slip, or cut it into shorter lengths and attach in stages. Then, attach leaves and shape petals.
Use 36 inches of petals (get the template below), a fringe stamen and one or more teardrop leaves. Attach the end of strip to a stamen; wind it around, gradually bringing strip higher on stamen. Starting near their bases, curl inner layers of petals tightly inward, several at once. Curl outer petals less tightly.
Use three strips of petals (get the template below), each 12 inches. Tightly pleat bottom edge of one strip, then wrap it firmly around itself, keeping bottom edge aligned. Secure with floral tape. Repeat with other strips. Tape bases of rolled strips to the end of a plain floral wire and to one another, wrapping tape down stem. Pull petals outward to create a dome.
Use 32 inches of petals (get the template below) and a fringe stamen. Attach strip, placing end a little low on stamen and pleating bottom edge as you wrap, gradually bringing strip higher on stamen. Cup each petal inward, then curl inward; pinch each tip to give it a crease.
Use 18 inches of petals (get the template below), a button stamen, and two notched leaves. Attach strip to a stamen, pleating bottom edge to prevent bunching, and keeping it aligned as you wrap. Cup each petal outward, then curl petals outward, shaping several at a time. Attach leaves near the base of the stem with tape.
To attach a strip of petals, place one end against the stamen; wrap strip around it. The base of the strip may need to be pleated as you go; pinch it together occasionally, and press folds in place. Once strip is wrapped, stretch floral tape slightly, then wrap it snugly around the base of the flower several times, touching both paper and stamen; wind tape down the stem to anchor and to attach leaves.
To cup a petal, pinch it between thumbs and forefingers, thumbs near edges and fingers at center. Gently pull thumbs outward to stretch the crepe paper, opening up the ridges; this will cup it outward into a convex shape. To curl petals, slide them between your thumb and a pencil; petal will curl toward pencil.
Cut 18-gauge cloth-wrapped floral wire to desired length: 12 inches is a good starting length for a bouquet; six works well for a boutonniere. (These are shown clockwise from top left.)
To make a button: Cut 11/2-inch square of crepe paper. Place thumbnail-size wad of cotton in center; push end of wire into cotton. Wrap paper around cotton; twist the ends around wire. Secure with floral tape.
To make a bud: Cut a 3-inch square of crepe paper; fold it into a triangle. Bring far tips in toward center bottom point, slightly overlapping. Hold the tips together; twist. Secure tips to the end of wire with floral tape.
To make a pistil: Cut a 1/2-by-6-inch strip of off-white crepe paper. Twist it tightly between your fingers, and tie a knot at one end. Cut three 1/8-by-4-inch strips of heavy red crepe paper; bend each at one end. Attach all strips, off-white in center, to the end of wire with floral tape.
To make a floret: Cut 6-by-2-inch strip of crepe paper; fold every 1/2 inch. Cut petals as shown. Wrap around the end of wire. Secure with floral tape.
To make a triple button: Cut three 1-inch squares of crepe paper; make three wads of cotton the size of a pinky nail; attach to wire. Place buttons together, heads staggered; tape together with floral tape.
To make fringe: Cut a 6-by-2-inch piece of crepe paper. Make cuts into one long side, about every 1/8 inch, to create a fringe. Roll paper tightly around the end of wire. Secure with floral tape.
Shaping and Attaching Leaves
Clockwise from top left:
Notched: Position these leaves down the stem a few inches below the base of the flower head, and secure with floral tape.
Teardrop: Cut a few 1/4-inch-deep slits into the sides of each leaf at the tip, spacing them approximately 1/8 inch apart as shown on the template. Give the leaf a slight inward cup, following the shaping technique given for single petals seen here.
Standard: Pleat the base of each of these leaves before attaching them. Add a short stem made of 18-gauge cloth-wrapped floral wire in one of two ways: Either attach the leaf to the wire by wrapping floral tape around the base overlapping wire and slightly cupping leaf around stem, or glue wire up center back of leaf with craft glue.
Grassy: Start with a 2-by-5-inch strip of crepe paper. Fold accordion-style, and place template on top; create a spiky fringe by cutting narrow Vs into one long side of the strip following the template. To attach, place one end of strip on flower head at the base of the flower head, and wrap it around the stamen; secure with floral tape.
Elongated: Fold each leaf in half lengthwise, then pleat its base by pinching. Attach these leaves on the stem a few inches below the base of the flower by wrapping floral tape around the base.