Part of a series of articles about our Members, helping you to know more about the things that we do when we're not doing Rotary activities! Here, a Member talks about her hobby of making flowers from old tights!
When I was younger I had a part-time job in a local department store. It was the height of yuppie-dom and all around you seemed to see people wearing a style that echoed the clothes warn by people in Chelsea and Kensington - the stereoptype then known as 'Sloane Rangers' (after Sloane Square). Several items of clothing seemed essential for ladies: a hair(power) band, a string of pearls, a Laura Ashley ruffle-neck blouse, a sleeveless jacket, Bally/Gucci flats, and opaque or colourful tights. It was the latter, for me, that kicked off my hobby.
Two things coincided for me - my mum had learned how to make some tiny flowers with old tights to put into her dry flower arrangements, and I had a friend that worked in the hosiery department that often needed to throw out old display samples of tights. The latter were in all shades, from fuchsia or white to bright yellow, so I got to work. (Sadly, I gave all the flowers that I made away to others, but the picture shows an arrangement similar to the arrangements that I made.)
As well as needing tights, the other supplies (which can be bought from craft shops) that you need are: florist's wire, cotton thread, UHU glue, green and/or white florist's tape and, depending on the flowers, florist's stamens. It helps to have a glue gun and some pliers/wire cutters (or a really old pair of sturdy scissors that you don't care about).
The first step is to cut pieces of wire and bend them into petal shapes, twisting the wire ends together. This can be quite fun, as you can get all sorts of shapes - just be careful with the sharp ends. Next, having cut the nylon 'tights' into large enough circles, you gently stretch these over the wire, holding the stretched nylon in place using the cotton thread, florist's tape or glue gun. You then collect your petals together and arrange them into a flower - the number of petals, their size, colour and shape depending on the flower you want to recreate. After doing this you then wind the florist's tape around the wire, making sure that all the wire is hidden. You can make leaves in exactly the same way using green fabric. If you like. you can group several flowers together on a stem. You can then put these in a little flower vase as a cute gift or decoration piece, or glue the flowers to twigs or a old piece of wood to give an 'arrangement'. You can scrunch up some artificial moss to hide ends of wire and tape and add a neater finishing touch. Finally, you re-shape the petals and leaves nicely - et voilà, you have your final piece!
Sometimes, when I did this, I would dye the tights with some food colour added to the fabric, heated gently (but not boiled) with a drop of vinegar. You can also use marker/felt tip pens or watercolour paints to give some effects to the flowers - but the latter is a little tricky as the paint 'spreads'. Although I've never tried it myself, I'm told you can use up your old tights this way, so it'd be great for upcycling.
Again, there are loads of videos and pictures on Youtube, Pinterest etc, that you can learn from. For instance, you can learn how to make quite a nice starting piece - a poppy - as well as lots of other lovely ideas. And here you can see a video of how to make a little bouquet from old tights. You can use the flowers in arrangements, bouquets, hair accessories, (including clips and flower crowns) and they look lovely added to the corner of a photo frame or for wrapping pressies. You can even help a youngster make fairy wings using old hangers!
The variety of flowers is pretty endless, so go on, give it a go, it really is very easy. Happy crafting!
Picture: A floral arrangement made from nylon 'tights'. Picture credit: Rotary Club of Canterbury.