Kanzashi Flowers

I still had a couple of empty spaces to fill on the wall of my remodeled quilt studio when I came across Diane Gilleland’s book Kanzashi in Bloom. Knowing nothing about this Japanese art of fabric folding to make flowers, I was fascinated to learn its history. Kanzashi is the shortened name for the intricate folded fabric flowers found in the elaborate coiffures worn with kimonos by a geisha and her assistants. The flowers in the book are simplified versions of this dying art in Japan. The book provides three different folding methods which can be made into a variety of flowers.

I was inspired to make the Sampler Wall Hanging I saw in Kanzashi in Bloom. The author’s version is made in subtle and sophisticated neutrals – which I love!

Recently, my elderly father was in the hospital for four days. To keep my hands busy, I decided to make Kanzashi flowers in the yellow, gray, black, and white color scheme of my quilt studio. I found lots of Connecting Threads fabric in my stash to make the flowers! I found some pretty coordinating buttons in the family button jar. Look at those prices – 29 cents and 40 cents for a card! I chose a heavier weight, polyester fabric with a neat sashiko-like design on it for the background. 

I put 2” squares of my fabrics and all of my supplies in a little carrying case. They included Black Gold #9 Appliqué/Sharps needles and an Open-Sided Thimble. I used beading thread coated with Thread Heaven to keep it from tangling and fraying. I think our CT threads, doubled on the needle, would also work well. Sometimes, I used a thicker #22 chenille needle if needed. 

Sitting in the hospital with all its activity and distractions, I found it easier to use Clover’s Kansashi Flower Makers, which are similar to their Yo-Yo makers. With these plastic tools, you just sew in and out of numbered holes. They come in five styles and three sizes. I used the small size which makes 2” diameter flowers. 

This project also calls for various glues, such as tacky fabric glue, jewel bonding glue, and a low-temperature hot glue gun, but I saved that part to do at home.

My wall hanging is brighter and more whimsical. The flower in the center is the only one made with the origami-like method in Kanzashi in Bloom. I really like the fabric folding technique and the flower it produced. A 2″ square of fabric makes a 2″ diameter flower. The rest of the flowers are made with the Clover Kanzashi Flower Makers. They say 2″ diameter but consistently came out a little smaller than the center flower. The sashing is made from narrow yellow ric rac couched with #8 perle cotton. I plan to hang it from cup hooks on the bottom of a small wood sign with a quilt saying.

This was a fun small project; the finished size is about 14″ square. Kanzashi flowers provide a great opportunity to use interesting buttons and even jewelry in the center. If you don’t have either Kanzashi in Bloom or the Clover products, there are many tutorials on the Internet. A charm square sampler would make lots of coordinating flowers!

Please return to Notions on Friday, April 14th, to see the Kanzashi flowers I made to match all my button jars…and to read about Ann’s Button Jars Visit to Connecting Threads.  It was an epic adventure!


  1. Lana - March 14, 2014

    I love them!

  2. Dorothy Moses - March 14, 2014


  3. Tressa J - March 14, 2014

    Boy these look like fun. And would they ever spice up a quilt!

  4. Chris Hawksworth - March 14, 2014


  5. Julia Thornburg - March 14, 2014

    Why pick one — I love them all!

  6. Donna McGraw - March 14, 2014

    I love the couching on the rick-rack! Never done that before. Will definitely try it!

  7. PATSY - March 14, 2014

    I love the variegated thread, gives a quilt that extra pop.

  8. Ginger - March 14, 2014

    Love your wall hanging! Kansashi flowers are fun to make. I have the book you used and Clover’s Kansashi Flower Makers. Both are useful and fun. I’ve glued a magnet on the back of single flowers for a quick and easy gift.

  9. Beth McDonnell - March 14, 2014

    Variegated thread, wool “pennies”, blanket stitches = delicious eye candy! I would love some in every color!

  10. Diane - March 15, 2014

    Love them all, may the luck of the Irish be with me. Hope I win!

  11. Nancy De Pas - March 15, 2014

    I old love these color s for mmy wall hanging.

  12. Sobana Sundar - March 16, 2014

    I need to learn to make these. Lovely!

  13. Pamela - March 23, 2014

    What a great way to use beautiful fabric scraps! Thanks for the helpful article.