Create delicate nylon flowers to dress up a wedding gown, veil, or centerpiece.
By Mary Beth Klatt
In the 1950s, women had to wear hosiery to the office or risk being fired. Naturally, these ladies ended up with a lot of ripped and snagged pantyhose. Although some tossed these ruined pairs, the crafty ones cooked up beautiful ways to reuse them. Many women ended up dyeing and cutting them up to create flowers for wedding veils, corsages, and hats.
Now those same flowers will set you back a small fortune on eBay, but you can re-create them for a fraction of the price, and get a vintage look that would be appropriate on Elizabeth Taylor in Father of the Bride.
Pair of pantyhose or sheer tights Any color will work. My favorites are pink, light blue, gold, pale yellow, and fuchsia.
Jewelry wire I like a crimped silver wire for an authentic look, but here I used plain copper.
Stamens You can find these in the wedding aisle at your local craft supply store. I bought white ones and dabbed them with nail polish to antique them.
Faux leaves Also in the wedding aisle.
Step 1: Cut and crimp.
Cut approximately 9″ of wire — you can always shorten it later. You can also crimp the wire with your fingers for visual interest. To do this, hold the wire in both hands and use your thumbnails to indent the wire. Alternate sides, indenting just where the petal will be, which is the middle portion of the wire. You don’t need to do this for the stem.
Step 2: Frame your petal with wire.
Bend the middle of the wire into a petal shape. We are making 1 petal now, which we’ll repeat several times to create a flower in the end. A 2″-wide petal is a good place to start, although I’ve made smaller.
When you get a loop size you like, twist the wire together at the base, forming the stem.
Step 3: Cut the pantyhose.
Discard the girdle and feet, but save the legs. Snip the legs into 4″×4″ squares. You can also make larger squares for larger petals.
Step 4: Add nylon to your petal frame.
While holding the petal and nylon in your hand, gently tug the hose over the wire petal, joining the corners together and bunching all the raw edges at the base. Gently bend the loop to shape your petal. The idea is to make the fabric as taut as possible at the petal’s outer edge, and fuller toward the center.
Step 5: Secure your petal.
When you’re happy with the way your petal looks, secure the base with 2″–3″ of wire. To do this, position the middle of the wire strip at the petal base and wrap it around a few times.
Line up the 2 wire ends that will make your stem (see image above for finished wire detail). Carefully trim the excess hose, making sure not to cut it too close to the wire. Now wrap the base a few times with floral tape to make sure the nylon is secure.
Step 6: Create a trio of petals.
Using the previous instructions, make 2 more petals (you can make more petals if you desire a more intricate blossom, but too many can be difficult to manage).
Step 7: Let your petals bloom.
Take several stamens (I used 3) and insert them into the middle of your petal trio. Use the tape to secure the group, taking care again to cover any exposed wire or raw edges.
Add some faux leaves and fasten with tape. Try different colors!
Step 8: Wrap your stem.
Beginning at the base, wrap your stem with floral tape, being sure to cover any raw edges or wire. Continue all the way down the stem, molding the tape to the wire.
About the Author:
Mary Beth Klatt is a Chicago writer who frequently writes about fashion and design. In her spare time, she loves to sew, knit, and crochet (not all at the same time).