Friday, January 23, 2009

Vintage Flowers

How to Make Flowers Using a Vintage Flower Loom

Fluffed flower!
How to wrap the material around the pegs in a figure 8.
Detail of slant stitch.
Fluffed flower!

Fluffed flower!0

I get lots of ideas for projects from vintage craft books and magazines. One day I ran across a copy of Swistraw and Flower Looms written in 1972 by LeJeune Whitney. As I looked at the pictures, I just fell in love with the flowers made on a small round loom using “Swistraw”—a brand name for a synthetic form of raffia.

Of course I just couldn’t wait to get started but soon found out that the supplies were no longer being produced. I then embarked on a mission to seek them out. One thing led to another, and I ended up with so many supplies I started assembling kits that I sell at craft fairs. So many people tell me that this craft brings up happy memories of their moms, grandmothers, or aunties making flowers on a loom.

For this how-to, I’m using the “Multi-Fleur” loom. It’s about 3-1/2 inches across and has two rows of pegs. The pegs are numbered 1–12 going counterclockwise. When you are first learning, it’s probably a good idea to follow the numbers, but honestly once you get the hang of it you don’t really need to.

You can use yarn, synthetic raffia, ribbon, string, even wire. I love the look of the vintage “Swistraw”—especially the colors and textures—but the synthetic raffia now marketed as gift ribbon is basically the same thing.

Starting with a 36-inch tail, secure the material in the notch near peg #7. Working counterclockwise, wrap your material around each of the outer pegs. You work in a figure 8 as you wrap the material around opposite pegs (1 to 7, 2 to 8, 3 to 9, 4 to 10, 5 to 11). Each time all the way around the loom creates one layer. Go completely around two to three times (i.e., two or three layers). Secure the end in the notch, leaving an 8-inch tail.

How to wrap the material around the pegs in a figure 8.

The first layer.

Repeat step 1, except do the inner pegs with a different color. One or two layers is good. This time you only need to leave 8-inch tails.

The second layer.

STEP 3 Backstitch
Using a long, sharp craft needle with a big eye, thread the 36-inch tail (from step one). Come up at space 11 and down through space 12, up space 1 and down space 12, up space 2 and down space 1, up space 3 and down space 2, and so on until you go all the way around. Make sure you go in between the petals and do not pierce the material.

Detail of backstitch.

Completed backstitch.

STEP 4 Slant Stitch
You should have ended up at space 1 from your previous step. Go over 3 spokes to the right and go in between the petal and come back up at space 12 (2 petals to the left), over 3 spokes, and down through the petal. Repeat all the way around, and complete the final stitch by going under the first slant stitch to create a continuous look.

Detail of slant stitch.

Completed slant stitch.

Turn the loom over, secure by knotting the tails, and snip off the excess. Gently remove the flower from the loom.

This is what the flower looks like right after you take it off the loom.

Fluff the petals as desired.

Fluffed flower!

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