This DIY was written by me and originally posted on a now defunct site called Holidash, it was added to Not Martha in February of 2014. The instructions as they originally appeared as well as one addition and extra notes are below.
Wondering about what to make Mom for Mother’s Day? I’ve been thinking about traditional gifts like flower corsages and lockets, and I decided to combine the two. This felt dahlia pin has a secret pocket in the back that can hold a picture or message for your favorite mom.
- Fabri-tac adhesive
- two sheets craft felt, one for the flower and one in a contrasting color for the back
- needle and thread
- brooch pin (available in the beading section of craft stores)
- a bit of thin cardboard (a cereal box from your recycling bin will be perfect for this)
Also helpful, if you have them:
- wooden clothespins
- pinking sheers
- a rotary cutter, mat and ruler
- a sewing machine
We’ll be cutting out a bunch individual petals, and above I show what I think is the most efficient way to divide up your sheet of felt. First cut a 3.25 inch diameter circle from your flower color felt. (Do this first to make sure you don’t leave yourself too small a scrap at the end.) Then cut three 1.5 inch strips, two 1.25 inch strips and one 1 inch strip of felt. In the contrasting color (here, the green), cut a 2 inch diameter circle and a 1.25 inch square. Cut a small indent into the square.
Finally, cut a 2 inch diameter circle from your cardboard.
Now cut your flower color strips into 1.5, 1.25 and 1 inch squares respectively. If you need more petals you can use the bit of leftover felt to cut more squares. I ended up needing fifteen 1.5 inch petals, thirteen 1.25 inch petals and nine 1 inch petals, you might find you need more or fewer to fill in the flower. To form the petals cut each square into a rounded petal shape, with a wide base and a pointed tip as shown above. Put dots of glue in the lower corners and fold each side over so that they meet in the middle.
This is the most frustrating part of the project — the glue can take a while to set and if you don’t hold the petal shapes in place they will pop open. I found this to be true for both the wool felt and the polyester felt I tested. I made a few versions using felt from various sources and found the higher quality wool felt to be a bit thicker, which meant that it took longer to set, but the colors were richer so I was willing to wait. I used clothespins or a heavy stainless steel skillet to hold my folded petals down while they dried, as shown above. Luckily, the Fabri-tac adhesive won’t bond to the metal of the skillet, so you don’t have to worry about petals stuck to your pan.
While the petals are setting you can prepare the back of the flower. Glue the cardboard circle to the center of the 3.25 inch flower color felt circle. Then dab glue on the overhanging part of the felt and fold it over the edges of the cardboard, wrapping it around to the back. You might need to put a saucepan on top to weigh it down while it sets. This will be the base for the petals, and the folded edges on the back will be covered by your contrasting felt circle at the very end.
Now grab your contrasting felt square and circle. Position the square at the bottom of the circle and stitch it around three sides to make a small pocket that opens to the side, leaving enough room at the top of the circle to attach the pin. You can put a few small dabs of glue on the pin before you hand stitch it into place at the top of the circle. I used contrasting thread that matched my flower, but you can use whatever thread color you’d like.
When the petals are set, it’s time to glue them to the flower color base. Glue the 1.5 inch petals around the edge of the base, positioning them in about 1/4 inch. As you work be sure to snug the base of the petals as close together side by side as you can; the more you can fit on the base, the more dramatic the results. Next, glue a row of the 1.25 inch petals about 1/4 inch further in towards the center of your pin. Do the same with the 1 inch petals, leaving about a 1 inch circle in the middle.
To finish the center of the flower cut a 1 inch circle from the remaining flower color felt using the pinking sheers, or cut a wavy edge with scissors. Also use the pinking sheers to cut a thin strip from the felt; you can cut two strips if you think you’ll need them. Glue down the small circle in the center of your flower to cover the ends of the smallest petals. Then curl the thin strip into a tight spiral and glue that to the very center.
All that is left to do is to glue the contrasting colored backing to the back of the flower, covering the back of the cardboard, and find a picture — or write a little note — small enough to slip into the secret pocket. Then wrap it up and present it to Mom!
Note: the below appeared as a separate post here on Not Martha, I’m adding it to the project page so that it’s all in one spot.
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.