(Note added Feb. 2014: The website where this DIY originally appeared so I moved the full instructions to a page here on Not Martha and I also added the notes that appear below to that project page. Go see it: Felt Dahlia Corsage.)
note on forming the petals
Making a whole stack of these, I quickly discovered that clothespins work really well to hold petals as the glue sets, shown above. Admittedly I went out and bought these for this purpose ($2 for 50 or so at Target, laundry basket aisle), but I’m finding all sorts of potential uses. Including, uh, actually hanging laundry. If you’re going to make more than three dahlia pins I highly recommend seeking out some clothespins.
notes on giving them
I used matching thread for the backs. (I apparently have so much thread now I can match almost anything, yay? or too much?) I also included a little one-fold card with a message, and a rounded tab that says “pull me” so that it wouldn’t be overlooked.
Then I wrapped them up all mysterious like.
notes on various weights of felt
Here are three flowers I made from different felts. The one on the bottom is a test flower, made using polyester felt. From this I learned I wanted lots more petals, and a more rounded shape to them. The top-left is made from nice, thick wool felt and is one of the ones I used for the pictures in the tutorial. The top-right is made from slightly thinner wool felt and I cut the petals much rounder. The thinner felt was easier to form and glue, but in the hand the thicker felt feels better, more substantial.
notes on where to find felt
For those living in Seattle here is what I learned about buying felt locally, with huge thanks to @dancingsheepnw and @raintea for the source tips on Twitter. The sturdiest felt with the most saturated colors was found at Clover Toys in Ballard. It comes in sheets and it was $2.50. (But I seem to have bought all the bright and dark reds, sorry about that.) Nancy’s Sewing Basket has wool felt in sheets and yardage. It was a bit thinner but the colors were still pleasing, I think it was $1.75 per sheet. Both Stitches and Pacific Fabrics have polyester felt for around $.75 per sheet. This was much thinner, but in the reds didn’t have the shiny/fake quality that polyester felts in the green range seem to. With the polyester felt the petals didn’t have as much structure, but still make really nice flowers.
notes on adhesives, needle felting and tacking the petals down
For my dahlia flowers I used Fabri-tac glue, but I had considered a few different options. Needle felting and hot glue guns were passed over due to the potential to stab or burn one’s fingers, and because of the extra supplies needed. Sewing each petal down individually sounded like an awful lot of work, and I was afraid that the petals would shift around too much on the soft base before it was attached to a stiff backing, making it a frustrating process. I initially used fast grab Tacky Glue, but found it wasn’t strong enough to give a good hold on the thicker wool felt (I had a big tragedy moment finding this out) so I switched to Fabri-tac (it’s more expensive and therefore wasn’t the first adhesive I tried) for the final project.
All that said, each of the above options were used by other people, thrilling! Ansley of Bleu Arts made this one in blue using the quick grab Tacky Glue. Kristin at Briney Deep needle felted the whole flower and attached it to a headband, she includes notes for needle felting. Laura from Bugs and Fishes tacked everything down with thread and the petals turned out with a less rigid arrangement, I think utterly charming. And in the comments from my initial mention of these Megan (no relation) reports that hot glue worked just great and didn’t weigh down the flower.
if you’ve made one I want to see!
Did you make a dahlia corsage? If so I’d love to see it, and I’ll add a link to this entry if you’ve posted it online (Flickr, Twitter, your blog). Let me know!
Note, February 2014: The Holidash website shut down earlier this year so I’ve reposted the tutorial, all the links above go to it’s new location here on Not Martha.