How to make your own cotton flowers

Cotton flowers are one of the best decorations for winter, for a baby shower, for a wedding and especially for a winter wedding. Actually, they are great for every purpose – because of their soft white cotton buds, which symbolize purity, wealth and wellbeing. 

3 heads of handmade cotton flowers

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to find them every time we need. The white cotton appears in only certain periods of the year, so if our local flower shop has no storage of them, we can have a problem and need to look online. But some countries, like Australia, for example, are very careful about flowers and seeds being imported, because of their policy of protecting their unique natural flora.

All of which leads to a lot of complications, but there’s a very easy way around this – just make your cotton flowers yourself. It is easy!

How to make the cotton flowers

To create your own cotton flowers you need two types of paper (high quality watercolour paper and white thick crepe paper), paper wire and cotton from the pharmacy.

paper wire, pliers, cotton

Shape some pieces of cotton to look like the ones shown in the photo.

shaped cotton pieces

You will need to make 4 or 5 balls – depends on the type of flower you prefer.

4 cotton balls, shaped with fingers

Next step is to make the leaves which will be connected between the cotton balls. For this you need to cut from the watercolour paper, 3 rectangles 2” x 1” each and fold them in half.

white rectangle from white watercolour paper

Draw on each of the 3 folded rectangles a shape like this.

leaf shape drawn on the white paper rectangle

Cut the shape. To colour the leaves, I have been using watercolour markers and a water container brush, but you can use normal watercolours. I prefer watercolours, not only markers or acrylic, because the water gives a softness to the paper and after that it is easy to shape the leaves.

cut double paper leaf shape

Paint every right side of the shape with a light brown and every left side with darker brown. The colours must be contrasting.

leaf, coloured with watercolour - light brown

Do exactly the same on the other side of the shape.

double leaf shape - one dark brown leaf and one light brown

While the leaves are still wet, shape them by twisting the tops.

twisted leaf top

In the end you will have 3 shapes of leaves and will be ready to put your flower together.

3 pieces of double leaf shapes in light and dark brown

How to assemble the “skeleton” of cotton flower

Glue a piece of the paper wire as show on the photo. The wire piece should not to be shorter than about 5 inches.

leaf shape and paper wire - ready to glue the wire in the middle of the double leaf shape

After that, glue another shape on the other side. The wire will be “hidden” in between.

another double leaf shape, glued on the opposite side of the wire

Now is the time to glue the third shape. Open out or flatten the leaves of the two previous shapes to see the wire and glue the third shape like the ones before. You will end up with this shape:

all the 3 shapes glued together in a star shape

If you are making a cotton flower with only 4 cotton balls, you don’t need the third part. But if you are following my steps or want a bigger cotton flower with 5 balls, glue two of the leaves together. You will not need them separated.

paper skeleton with 5 leaves

You have to end up with this shape.

paper leaves star

What to do with the cotton buds?

Glue each cotton bud between two leaves, as shown. Be very careful about the little tail – keep it, you will need it later.

first cotton ball glued between the paper leaves

After gluing all the cotton buds, you must have this: an almost ready cotton flower.

all the cotton balls glued between the leaves

The next step is to colour the crepe paper. I am always using white crepe paper and colouring it with acrylic paint. Because, exposed to direct sunlight or even just bright daylight even the best quality paper fade. Maybe with the cotton flowers this is not a big problem, but imagine a great red Poinsettia…

crepe paper, coloured in brown with acrylic paint

After cutting 5 (or 4, depending on the number of cotton balls) little leaves, you can also colour them with an alcohol based marker.

adding extra brown colour on the top of the brown crepe paper leaves - with a brown alcohol based marker

Final steps

When all the elements are ready, it is time to fix the cotton balls and cover the stem. First cut a small ribbon from the coloured crepe paper. Next glue it with hot silicone under the cotton balls, fixing the cotton tails onto the wire stem.

ready cotton bud and brown crepe paper piece to fix the bottoms of the cotton buds to the wire stem

The result must be like this:

fixed stem

Do you remember the little leaves?

Glue them onto the cotton and after that cover the bottoms of the leaves. This is not part of the real cotton flower, but in yours the cotton balls will be better fixed.

little brown leaves glued on the white cotton

And your cotton flower is ready. You can make as many you want. The time to create the first one will be between 30 and 60 minutes and with every next one you will be faster and faster.

3 heads of handmade cotton flowers

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    • Hi Tina Marina! Thank you very much! The paper is white watercolour 250 g, acid free and white thick crepe paper from Cartotecnica Rossi. Wish you a wonderful day! ♥

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