Beautiful Flowers (Paper)
My paper napkin flowers, like the one featured in the post, are mostly dip-dyed. Dip-dyeing involves adding or removing portions of color by partly dipping material into pigments or a water/bleach solution. The process gradually changes the color from the dipped end of the paper to the next. I also draw on, sculpt, squeeze and gather paper into submission. Added to that, I wet, dry, starch, iron and sew paper to achieve my goals.
My favorite paper to work with is coffee filters. I fold, cut, glue, and get beautiful flowers–without tracing templates. Ease of access, durability and low-costs are added pros. If you’re exploring inexpensive wedding ideas, or home decor, consider them.
Making paper napkin flowers, or any other paper flowers is easier than you think. Pretty DIY bouquets, centerpieces, backdrops and wall art are all possible. I make flowers that are imaginary and are not found in nature. That’s not to say it doesn’t inspire me.
Pretty DIY flowers that are easy, budget-friendly and time-saving Newsprint, construction paper, tissue papers and paper napkins all produce great results. There are three types of flowers in this post. One set is made of tissue paper and the other two are made of paper napkins. They are variations of the same method of construction and each comes with separate instructions.
Pretty paper napkin flower (here’s how to make it)
Center of Paper Napkin flowers
Made with a fringed paper napkin strip wrapped around paper cord.
Begin by making the center. I used paper cord and fringed napkin strips. For variations, use any of the following materials alone or combined. See making centers below.
Center and Wire Stem
Wrapped with floral tape
Wire comes in different sizes called gauges – higher numbers depict thinner wire. Your flowers will have adequate support with 18 gauge wire stems. Wooden skewers and dry branches from the garden work as well. Use pliable papers, fabric or floral tape to cover stems. Floral tape is adhesive.
Dip-dyed Petals of Paper Napkin flowers
Left: Dip-dyed strips of paper napkins used to make petals of paper napkin flowers. When cutting napkin strips, use bordered areas at base of flowers.
SIZEs of NAPKIns used in paper napkin flowers
Dinner napkins come in varied sizes. I used squares but some are rectangular. Look for those with narrow borders. You will have more material to work with after cutting off edges. Smaller sizes can work but the number of strips you’ll need increases. If cutting off borders on paper napkins, don’t toss them. Save them to make centers and tiny flowers.
Materials and tools you will need:
Scarlet Clothing dye
Pink dip-dyed paper napkins (See dip-dyeing below)
Yellow dip-dyed paper napkins (See dip-dyeing with bleach below)
Pink paper cord
Hot glue gun
Wire cutters, wire stems and floral wire
Thread, wire and glue offer options of how to secure petals to stems. Seasoned crafters are familiar with different methods; beginners can explore and choose what works best..
Preparation and Assembly
Cut 2 pieces of 6 inch paper cord.
Make 4 knots at each end and trim off any extended pieces past the knots.
Cut a 4”x12” strip of napkin and use a straight edge to draw a line about 1” above the base.
With the straight edge as a guide, use scissors to cut 1/8 inch slits to the line.
Place fringed strip on a smooth surface and with your fingers, gather the base at the lower edge.
Lay top of stem on lower edge of fringed paper and secure with hot glue.
Roll gathered paper tightly unto stem and glue into place.
Attach floral tape to stem by securing tape to top of wire. First, stretch a piece of the tape; hold the stem in one hand and the tape in the other. Continue by placing the tape over the top of the stem; holding it on an angle; and twisting the wire until it is entirely covered. Keep stretching tape as you go, for a smooth finish.
Cut off the embossed borders around the napkins.
Fold napkins in 3 equal size folds and cut apart. (Each napkin will produce three 4”x12” strips).
Dip-dye napkins and let dry; see dip-dye below.
Cut out petal shape at colored end of paper. You will need four 4”x 12” dip-dyed strips for each flower.
Fold strips in half lengthwise – 2 layers.
Fold again in thirds 6 – layers. (Each strip will have 6 connected petals for a total of twenty four).
Place two 6 petal strips on a smooth surface
Offset the other 2 strips on top of them and gather base at lower edges with your fingers. (I used my sewing machine to gather. But if you don’t sew, it’s just as easy to gather by hand with a needle and thread).
Wrap ruffled napkin strips around the stem and secure with hot glue. (You can also use strong thread or floral wire to secure petals to stems. Suggested options aim to accommodate whatever materials you have on hand).
Note: Fuller gathers and deeper cut petals create flowers that open wider; whereas gathers that are thinner and shallow-cut-petals generate flowers that are closed.
Dip-Dyeing provides a good deal of satisfaction because of the organic patterns it generates. With diluted craft paint, it adds texture and color. Too, depending on the water paint ratio, the paper will be stiffer when it’s dry. Clothing dye adds texture and color. It also forms residue if not mixed well; should that be the case, remove deposits with a soft brush. You may also dip-dye with water and bleach solutions. That mixture removes color. Use about 2 cups of water and a tablespoon of bleach. It doesn’t always produce the desired color gradation. Heavier papers and darker colors need a stronger solution and longer time. And light pastel colored napkins will lose all of their color in that same mixture. Dipping in plain water adds subtle crinkle to papers while diluted food coloring adds delicate texture and color. Plant and vegetable dyes are wonderful alternatives.
Dip-dyeing Paper Napkins in Clothing Dye
Follow instructions on the dye package, mix a small portion, and do a dip-test. It’s is worth your while and will help you figure out how long to leave papers in solutions. Or, to add more color if desired.
Stack about four 12” napkin strips and fold closely together. Dip one end lengthways, 1” deep into dye container for a few seconds. Remove and allow excess drippings to reduce. Hang to dry clothesline-style with dry side up. When paper napkins are wet, they are extremely fragile. Unfold carefully when they are almost dry and leave open on a flat surface to air dry. Looking to trim down drying time? Use a blow dryer. Try a lower setting first. Higher settings could scorch paper and change the color. Microwaves and conventional ovens are also options. Caution: they too, can scorch and burn papers.
Pink Tissue Paper Flowers
The pretty DIY bouquet above is an easy project. It is a variation of the red/yellow paper napkin flowers at the top.
How I made them in summary:
I applied hot glue to wire stems; inserted them into hollow Q-tip; layered and gathered tissue paper strips together. And to finish, I glued and wrapped the gathered tissue around stems.
Now, here’s how you can make them in detail.
Materials and Assembly
Bud and Stem
1 wire stem
Cut a hollow Q-tip in half
Bend one end of the wire with pliers and insert top of stem into opening.
If the opening is narrower than your stem, put a small amount of hot glue on the stem, attach Q-tip and bind with floral tape or a narrow strip of paper.
Two layers of tissue paper the same color as your flower is a good choice. Use caution; hot glue is hot.
Cover wire by stretching a piece floral tape over the top and twisting the wire until the stem is entirely covered. (I opted not to color the buds as it saved time. They will not be visible but coloring them is still an option).
A package of 180 pieces Craft Wire Stems cost $1.50 at the dollar store. They are soft and easy to bend but strong enough to support the weight of the flower.
1 strip of 2 1/4” x 20” tissue paper
1 strip of 2 1/2” x 20” tissue paper
Fold strips of tissue in half lengthwise – 2 layers.
Fold again in quarters 4 – layers.
Fold yet again in thirds 12 – layers.
Cut out petal shape at one end of paper.
Open layers and place the widest strip of tissue on a smooth surface.
Stack the narrower, strip on top of the first in an offset position.
Gather both layers of tissue at the base of the lower edges with your fingers. If you have difficulty mastering the finger-gathering technique, use a sharp needle, strong thread, and a running stitch to gather the tissue. Or, take advantage of the ruffle foot on your sewing machine–as I did. Tissue paper tears easily; use a gentle hand.
Lay top of stem on lower edge of gathered paper and secure with hot glue.
Roll gathered paper unto stem and glue into place as you go.
Note: A tighter roll with less gathers produces a more closed flower. While fuller gathers turn out opened petals. Still, they aren’t the only factors that affect your flowers’ width and shape. Deeper cut petals fall lower and wider, whilst shallow cut petals produce a compact bud-type flower.
For details in pictures, click here.
More pretty paper napkin flowers
This is another variation of the flowers above. Good for bouquets, wedding backdrops and home decor.You don’t need a template. Red napkins dipped in 2 cups water, 1 tbsp bleach and left to dry produced this bunch.
To make these flowers:
Cut off the embossed borders around the napkins. Fold napkins in 3 equal size folds and cut apart. Each napkin will produce three 4”x 12” strips.
You will need six 4”x 12” dip-dyed strips for each flower. Each strip will have 6 connected petals for a total of thirty six. Dip-dye napkins and let dry; see dip-dye in bleach below.
Cut out sharp pointed petal shapes at bleached end of tissue.
Place three 3 petal strips on a smooth surface
Offset the other 3 strips on top of the first set and gather base at lower edges with your fingers. (I used my sewing machine. But if you don’t sew, it’s just as easy to gather by hand with a needle and thread).
Next, hold the stem in one hand and the gathered petals on in the other. Secure petals to top of stem with a small amount of hot glue. Continue by winding the petals on an angle around the stem until you reach the end of the petals strip. Secure end with hot glue. Use a small piece of tape to cover visible end at the base of flower.
Dip-dye in Bleach
To dip-dye, stack about four 12” napkin strips and fold closely together. Dip one end length-ways, 1” deep into water and bleach solution for a few seconds. Remove and allow excess drippings to subside. Hang to dry on a clothesline-with dry side up. Or come up with a hack that serves the purpose. Paper napkins are extremely fragile when wet. Unfold them carefully when they are almost dry and leave on a flat surface to air dry. If your focus is on saving time, use a blow dryer but try a lower setting first. Microwaves and conventional ovens work too. Again, opt for lower settings. Higher temperatures could scorch paper and change colors.
It’s your turn; make your own paper flowers, show and tell.
Thank you for stopping by.
Please reach out if there’s anything you will like to learn or see more of.
If the LORD will, see you next time.