Of the few flower making irons I have, the rose petal iron is by far my favorite. With this one iron I can make small to large roses just by varying the size of the petal and cutting small imperfections into the leather before the shape is pressed. Actually, in the real world of flower making, you would have petal irons in various sizes to make a single rose, including cutters for those shapes.
My original idea was to use my leaf irons, but in the end I used vintage leaves and stems to complete my beautiful roses. This is not a comprehensive tutorial, but one to get you started. Observe, research, and experiment. Have fun!
For fun! I also made a hatpin by pressing aluminum and brass into the same flower mold I used to make my flowers. I'm not sure if this was a good idea, but I had fun.
Please note that this tutorial is only for the type of flower irons shown here and not the ball irons. Although you can make suede and leather flowers with ball irons, that technique will not be discussed here.
1. Create a template for your fabric by pressing a piece of paper towel--I use Viva because it does not tare--between the male and female iron mold parts. I don't have a cutter (for every flower shape/iron, there is a cutter), so I have to manually create and cut the pattern and the fabric (leather and suede).
2. Now that you have a petal shape; cut away the excess paper towel.
3. Flatten the paper template, glue it to cardboard, and cut the shape out. For smaller petals, cut smaller templates based on where the curves of the iron fall.
3. Cut out leather and/or suede petals using the templates you have created. I didn't count the number of pieces; I just cut them out. The fuller you want your flower, the more petals you cut out.
4. Dampen the back of the fabric with water mixed with fabric stiffener (I use Stiffy) and set the petals aside for a minute or so until the mixture soaks in. Do not over dampen the fabric.
5. Placing this fabric between the flower press, press down firmly for a couple of seconds and release--the more pressure, the more detail.
6. Gently remove the petal from the mold and set it aside to dry.
7. Watch the YouTube video below showing how to put together a paper flower. This same method can be used for leather flowers.
Please note that the petals (red flower) for this project were made using two methods. Some petals were cold pressed (using no heat) and some were heat pressed--the mold portion without the handle was placed on a warmer and then pressed using the mold portion that has the handle attached. Both methods worked very well, although I preferred the cold press because it was easier. The dark petals were heat pressed.
I have no idea how the professionals make leather flowers. When there is little information on a subject, I just experiment until I get it right for me. This experimentation is continuous, regardless of the project I'm working on.
Because I did not take pictures of all the stages I went through while making these roses, I'm including three videos below: One for inspiration and study (actually all of them should be studied), one to show how flowers are cut and shaped with dies; and one to show how flowers are put together--included in the paper flower video. Following the videos are resources where you can buy flower making tools--the same tools are used-- and instructional videos for making silk flowers.
If you need some inspiration, check out Legeron for some of the most breathtaking flowers I've ever seen!
Ets Legeron, Paris: a tour from Lexy Hulme on Vimeo.
Resources for flower making tools:
I have flower irons that are manually heated, as well as an electric set of irons (attachments are inserted into an electric element). Both has its advantages and disadvantages. Over time, if you own both types of irons, you will come to have a favorite.
Waltraud Reiner (Torb&Reiner) offers millinery supplies. I purchased my set of flower making balls and a flower making video from Waltraud's site.
Lacis offers millinery supplies and other supplies, including books on just about anything relating to the textile arts. I purchased my electric set of tools from the Lacis site.
For all of you that are like me that just can't wait to get something in your little hands to practice with as soon as a thought runs across your brow, Clover offers a ball adapter for its Mini Iron II. I actually I use the tips I purchased from Lacis in this iron, because I burned my electric cord while making flowers.
The flower irons used in this tutorial are vintage (maybe antique).