Explore Floral Sculpture in Quilting Arts

Learn to create floral sculpture in Quilting Arts Magazine

We can’t get enough of flower fiber art and all the variations in which it manifests. From free-motion quilting motifs to illustration-inspired florals, flowers abound at Quilting Arts Magazine! If you’re waiting for your copy to arrive (instant download is available here), check out these amazing 3-D sculpted flowers by Barb Forrister.

3-D Soft Sculpted Flowers

Mixed-media style

As a fiber artist interested in 3-D, I am constantly looking for new products that will add body to my work yet remain pliable enough to sculpt—and also for mediums that can remain somewhat flat but still provide texture. While developing patterns for soft-sculpted flowers, my friend Laura Beehler introduced me to Lutradur. This prompted me to try combining this material with cloth and beads to create my flowers.


  • Petal and leaf shapes
  • Template plastic or cardstock
  • Fabric for flower petals, 1/2 yd.
  • Fabric for leaves, 1/2 yd.
  • Lightweight batting, 1/2 yd.
  • Lightweight fusible web, 1/2 yd. (I used Mistyfuse®.)
  • Fabric-safe marker or chalk pencil
  • Thread, various colors
  • Sewing machine with free-motion capability
  • Lutradur®, 1/4 yd. or 2 pre-packaged sheets (I used midweight Lutradur.)
  • Textile paint
  • Ink or liquid dye (I used Colorhue Dyes.)
  • Small paintbrush
  • Floral wire
  • Assorted beads
  • Cording or ribbon for the stem


  • Heat gun

What is Lutradur

Lutradur is a versatile non-woven polyester material, originally designed as a roofing product that is acid-free and tear-resistant. It is a cross between paper and fabric and can be painted, printed, sewn, dyed, sculpted, and handled in any way you use paper or fabric. It is translucent and when dyed or painted, the color can generally be seen from both sides. Some artists even print on Lutradur using their computers.

Lutradur comes in three weights: ultra lightweight (25 grams), midweight (75 grams), and heavyweight (100 grams). Made by Pellon®, it is available in pre-cut packages and on the bolt.

Lutradur can be melted and burned for a varied effect. Caution must be used when working with heat. Be sure to wear a respirator and work in a well-ventilated area. I used a heat gun on my Lutradur petals, melting them slightly for a lacey, mottled effect.


Think about how flowers are shaped | Process photos courtesy of the artist

Think about how flowers are shaped | Process photos courtesy of the artist

This flower has three tiers of petals: an outer set made from fabric, a second tier of painted Lutradur petals, and an inner Lutradur bud. Think of how petals are shaped and draw your own petal shapes. Nearly any shape you choose will work. I suggest leaving a straight edge at the base of the outer fabric petal so it can be easily turned right side out. Draw a smaller petal for the middle tier. For the inner bud, draw a loose triangular shape that can be wrapped in a conical fashion. Finally, choose a leaf shape and size that is appropriate for your flower. These four pieces will be your templates for the petals and leaves.

The outer petals

Stitch around each petal

Stitch around each petal

1. Trace the petal and leaf shapes onto template plastic or cardstock and cut them out.

2. For the outer petals, cut the fabric into two fat quarters. Create a quilt sandwich with the batting on the bottom, followed by the fusible web, and topped with the two fat quarters right sides together. Trace five outer petals on the top layer of fabric with a fabric-safe marker. Stitch around each petal leaving the bottom of the petal open. Backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam. Trim around each petal, leaving a ¼” seam allowance. Turn the petals right side out. Press. Make five outer petals.

3. Select two thread colors, one for the bobbin and one for the top thread. Free-motion quilt all five petals, enhancing the natural shape with thread sketching. I started with a light, contrasting thread for the top and a matching, darker thread in the bobbin, and then switched thread colors to provide interest.

4. Assemble the outer layer by sewing the petals right sides together, starting from the base and stitching up about 1/3 of the petal. Backstitch to reinforce the stitches. Stitch the last petal to the first one to form a circle with an opening in the middle.

The second tier petals

Free-motion quilt a floral pattern on the two layers

Free-motion quilt a floral pattern on the two layers

1. Cut the Lutradur in half and paint both sides of one piece for the middle layer of petals. When dry, fold the Lutradur in half and trace three petals. Before cutting, outline stitch each petal and free-motion quilt a floral pattern on the two layers using different threads in the top and the bobbin as done with the fabric petals. With the other half of the Lutradur and a complementary color of paint, repeat the process for the 3 inner bud petals. Cut out the stitched Lutradur-painted petals. With the ink or dye, paint veins on the inner petals with a small paintbrush.

Distress the edges of each petal with a heat gun

Distress the edges of each petal with a heat gun

2. Use a heat gun to heat distress and curl the edges of each Lutradur petal, if desired.

CAUTION: Use a respirator and work in a well-ventilated area whenever using a heat gun on textiles.

The inner bud

1. For the inner bud, wrap one petal in a conical fashion.

2. To assemble the flower, hand stitch the base of the inner petals together, part way up the sides, leaving a small center opening for the stamens. Hand stitch the middle petals to the inner petals unit, keeping the small opening in the center of the flower. Slip the Lutradur petals into the center of the cloth outer petal circle and hand stitch the three layers together around the center opening.

Make the stamen and add it to the finished flower

Make the stamen and add it to the finished flower

3. Create the stamens by stringing several small beads onto a 3″–4″ piece of wire. Top the strand with a large, round bead for the tip.

“Raspberry Delight” (detail) • 22" x 21" | Photo by Larry Stein

“Raspberry Delight” (detail) • 22″ x 21″ | Photo by Larry Stein

Barb Forrister is a mixed-media artist working with dyes, paints, stamps, and stencils to provide texture and dimension to heat-distressed and soft-sculpted fibers. She teaches a variety of surface design techniques that involve unusual materials. Visit her website to see more.

Love this flower power technique? Check out more floral inspiration in the June/July 2019 issue of Quilting Arts!

Sew long,


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