Working with Crepe Paper
The grain of crepe paper follows the creases. Generally, cut your petals so that the grain of the paper runs along the center line; this will help the petals stay stiffer but will also let you stretch them and curl them. Sometimes you want a floppier response (for example, with some types of fringe for flower centers); in those cases, cut the petal with the grain running across.
The grain direction is indicated on each template with arrows.
Pulling the creases apart makes crepe paper curl and will help you shape petals and leaves; stretching the edges will make them ruffle. Experiment with scrap pieces to get a sense of how this works.
One packet of crepe paper goes quite a long way. Duplex works well for most flowers (it is thicker and often two toned), but standard crepe paper works as well and may be best for a more delicate, unstructured flower. Mixing the two adds a nice depth. Use green crepe paper or floral tape for covering stems.
Making the Petals
Note: Crepe-paper flowers are very forgiving. Petal and leaf shapes do not need to be exact -- feel free to cut freehand, using the templates as a general guide to size and shape. You can print the templates at different percentages to create other sizes of flowers.
Download the templates, print, and cut them out (if you want to make a stiffer template that's more durable and easier to cut around, paste it onto a bit of card stock before cutting it out).
Cut several leaves or petals at a time by stacking several pieces of crepe paper and cutting through all layers at once; it is much more efficient. To do this most accurately and efficiently, cut a strip across the grain about 1/2" taller than the pattern you are using; refold three times for single crepe (you'll end up with 8 thicknesses) or twice for duplex (4 thicknesses), then cut through all layers of the paper with sharp scissors.
Shaping the Petals
Fluting the Edges
If you stretch the very edge of the crepe paper, you will get a ruffled effect. To do this, hold the edge of the petal between the thumbs and forefingers of both hands, with your hands close together. Stretch the paper gently along the edge of the petal. Then shift your grip to a new spot, and repeat as necessary.
Hold either side of a petal with your thumbs and forefingers. Gradually stretch the entire width of the petal by pulling outward, using your thumbs to push into the center of the petal and your forefingers to stretch the paper away from the thumbs. The petal will curve away from your thumbs; this will give the petal a more dimensional shape--as you would see on a real rose petal. Experiment with cupping at the top, the base, or halfway down the petal.
You can curl the crepe paper with the edge of a pair of scissors (as if you were using curling ribbon); just drag the blade of the scissors along the grain, pressing the paper gently against the blade with your thumb.
Photograph by Gia Canali Photography
Making Flower Centers
All flowers start with a ball center; this provides something to attach the petals to. Start with a small ball of scrap paper (1/4 inch or slightly larger) and a square of crepe paper (1 1/2 inches or larger). Use larger sizes for larger flowers.
Spread a generous amount of white glue over the wrong side of the crepe-paper square. Bend one end of a floral-wire stem into a small loop. Place the ball of paper on the loop, and wrap the crepe-paper square over the ball (glue side down); then twist the paper around the wire stem. Let dry.
Reinforce the center by cutting a short, thin strip of green crepe paper (or use floral wire); apply glue to one side, and wrap one end around the base of the ball; then wrap it straight around the twisted section of the crepe paper a couple of times, and then wrap it at a diagonal to about 3/4 inch beyond the crepe paper. Cut away excess.
From here you can expand on the center by wrapping a strip of fringed paper or a calyx shape around the center, gluing in place along the bottom edge.
For a fringed center (as for a poppy), cut the crepe paper into a strip across the grain (it should be wide enough to extend above the ball a bit, as well as wrap around to the bottom). Stretch the strip fully for a fine fringe and less so for a coarse one. Fold the strip in half, end to end, and cut a fringe in one long side. Wrap it around the flower center, gluing the uncut side to the center ball.
To attach your first petal, glue the inside bottom edge to the base of your flower center (since this is the inner ring, the level at which you place the petal will determine how much of the center is showing on this flower; each subsequent row will travel down the ball toward the stem). Attach the next petal on the same level so that it slightly overlaps the first, beside it. Continue around the flower. If you want a second ring of petals, choose larger shapes and glue them slightly below the level of the first ring.
Glue a short 1/2-inch-wide strip of green crepe paper around the base of the petals to cover any raw edges.
If you like, add some sheath shapes cut from green crepe paper for a realistic base for your flower.
Wrapping the Wire Stems
To cover the stems, cut long strips of green crepe paper, 1/2-inch-wide, across the grain, or use green floral tape.
Apply glue to the outside of the flower base. Tightly wrap the end of a crepe-paper strip around it 2 or 3 times, then wind it around the wire stem, stretching slightly. Just before the bottom of the stem, apply glue to the back of the strip, and twist tightly to wire, twisting to about 1 inch beyond the end of the stem.