Learn about Life in the 1920s

Basic Paper Flower Techniques

Photo of Tissue Paper Flowers

The making of paper flowers is one of the most fascinating of all crepe paper crafts. There is a chance for unlimited skill, as there is no limit to the variety of flowers that may be made.

The most satisfactory way to make paper flowers is to copy them from natural ones. If possible use two — one to take apart and the other to use as a study. Paste the petals and leaves of the real flower to cardboard and cut out.

The grain of the crepe paper should always be from point to base of a petal or leaf unless definitely stated otherwise.
When making flower petals or leaves, stretch the crepe paper slightly before cutting.
Cut several thicknesses at once.
It will be found of help when cutting a number of petals if a strip a little wider than the petal is cut through the entire fold of crepe.

To cut a strip of crepe paper straight, slip it partly out of the packet, measure the desired width, mark, and using the edge of the packet as a guide, cut through the entire thickness (illustration No. 1). Unfold the strip and stretch, then starting with the two ends together double until there are eight thicknesses. Place the pattern on the crepe paper and cut (illustration No. 2).

Strips of Petals. When strips of petals are to be cut, slip the paper out of the packet, cut off the required width, unfold, stretch, refold into eight thicknesses, make straight cuts down the required distance, then round off each petal division as required. Often petals may be cut in this way without using a pattern (illustration No. 3).

When the petals of very large or very small flowers are being made in strips, the calyx formed by bunching the paper together is often too bulky; to avoid this, pieces may be cut from the lower edge of the strip (illustration No. 4).

To Curl Rose Petals. Roll the top edges of the petal over a steel knitting needle of a suitable size, and if a crushed effect is wanted push the crepe close together on the needle (illustration No. 5).

Cupshaped Petals. Take several thicknesses of petals together, or single petals, and with the thumbs in the center of petal and forefingers near the edges on the opposite side push out into shape (illustration No. 6).

Twisted Petals. Hold a petal in the left hand, with the thumb and forefinger on opposite sides of the paper, about halfway down the petal division, and with the right thumb and forefinger give the upper part of the petal a complete turn. Repeat until all petals are twisted (illustration No. 7).

When twisting petals for geraniums or bunches of violets, take hold of the petal divisions near the top and twist toward you with one hand and away from you with the other, having the twist across the petal, not up and down as shown in the illustration.

Wrapping Stems. The crepe paper for wrapping the stems should be cut through the entire thickness of the fold and doubled through the center lengthwise. This may be done by folding the entire strip before starting to wind the paper around the wire or folding and winding at the same time. Put a little paste at the base of the flower or calyx and wind the strip of crepe paper around two or three times very tightly, then holding the stem wire in the right hand, twirl it round and round. At the same time, with the left hand, guide the paper, slanting it down and stretching it so that it will wrap the stem smoothly. As the winding proceeds, put the leaves in position, placing the single leaves or groups on opposite sides of the stem the desired distance apart (illustration No. 8). When the end of the stem wire is reached, cut or tear the paper off and fasten the end with a little paste.

When it is necessary to add wire to lengthen stems, place the wire to be added beside the one being wrapped and continue twisting the paper. It will not be necessary to twist the two pieces of wire together (illustration No. 9).

Wired Petals or Leaves. Use straight wires, not spool wire. Cut the wires a very little longer than the petals to which they are to be pasted. Hold about six wires by one end, keeping them out in a flat row rather than in a tight bunch. Rest the other end on a piece of paper on the table and cover one side of the wires with paste. Place the wires, one at a time, sticky side down, in the center of a petal or leaf, allowing the extra length to project below the base. Press down firmly until dry.

Fluted Edge. Hold the crepe paper between the thumbs and forefingers as shown, then push away from you with the left thumb and pull forward with the right forefinger. Move the crepe a bit and repeat until the whole strip is fluted (illustration No. 10).

Fringed Crepe. Fringe is made by cutting the crepe paper with the grain for a stiff fringe or across the grain for a soft fringe.
Almost all the fringe which is made for flower centers is cut with the grain of the crepe. Cut a strip of crepe paper through the entire fold of crepe the width desired for the fringe. Unfold, stretch and refold into eight thicknesses. Slash one edge down to within about onehalf an inch of the other edge for a narrow fringe for flower centers, or to within 1 inch if a wide fringe is to be cut.
Fringe which is cut across the grain of the crepe paper is used more for decorative purposes when a deep fringe is required.
Strips of fringe 20 inches long may be made and any depth up to the whole 10 feet of the fold.
Unfold the crepe paper, cut off pieces through the width of the crepe the required depth for the fringe. Fold the lower edge up to within an inch of the top. Redouble several times then cut through entire thickness, leaving the inch at top uncut (illustration No. 11). Shake out the fringe. Use as many thicknesses as needed.

Crushed Crepe. First stretch the crepe paper as much as possible, then lay it on a flat surface and take up a small section in the tips of the fingers of both hands, crushing it tightly. Repeat until the whole piece has been crushed (illustration No. 12).

Pasted Petals. Often when it is desirable to have petals of flowers darker on one side than on the other, two shades are pasted together. This may be done in two ways: two strips may be cut, unfolded, stretched slightly, and the two folded together, then, after the petals have been cut and while they are in several thicknesses, the two colors may be pasted together. Start by pasting the two at the bottom, then the next two, etc. (illustration No. 13).

Two colors may be pasted together in a long strip, and then when it is dry the crepe is folded and the petals cut just as if it were a single piece of paper. Apply the paste by drawing the brush with the grain of the crepe, not across it.

Source: How to make Crepe Paper Flowers 1922.

Paper Flower Resources

Books on Making Paper Flowers

Martha Stewart Crafts Tissue Paper Flowers


Image showing how to cut

Illustration showing cutting Illustration of Petal Strip Illustration showing petal cutting Illustration demonstrating petal curling Illustration showing cupping of flower petals Illustration showing how to twist petals Illustration showing wrapping of flower stems Lengthening Flower Stems Diagram Creating Fluted Edge Diagram Creating Crepe Paper Fringes Illustration Illustration of Crushing Crepe Pasting Illustration