botanicals, bats and my new favorite supply – buckram

bats and botanicals

Have you ever tried Buckram? It’s a millinery supply. I’m continuing to experiment with bats and for this patched plum bat I’m trying buckram as a substrate – something to give it sculptural form. You can find buckram on Etsy – and it comes in all sorts of variations – black, white, heavy, light, fusible, sheets, rolls etc. etc.  I got a big roll of the heavy weight – non fusible  – in white. I’m also a big fan of millinery wire – there’s some of that in this bat too.


You can get buckram wet and form it or cut darts and stitch though it – I stitched it both by hand and on the machine.  I like the stability of the shapes I made (you can layer it for even more stability)  and how easy it is to stitch through.  I did need to cover the edges – they are a little sharp and my fabrics were particularly delicate.  I’ve been intending to try it for ages – it’s good stuff!  And has given me all sorts of ideas. I’m going to add it to the resource list. If you’re curious about it search on google and pinterest – for buckram and hat making – interesting stuff pops up. There is a lot to be learned about shape building from milliners.

I’ve  also been working on botanical experiments, revisiting two exotic species I created last year – The Royal Cone Flower and a Cloaked Bishop Lilly.  There are colors and color combinations I come back to again and again – deep smokey plums and violets, indigo, and greens with a little acidity to them and little bits of crimson.  The plums, violets and indigos are almost always Japanese (courtesy of Sri Threads). The crimson touches on the bat and Bishops Lilly are both very old – 18th and early 19th century.  I dye most of my greens and it’s always too dull for me so they get a quick second dip in sunflower yellow.  My favorite dyes are Dylon and idye (idye is intended for the machine – but since I dye tiny things in delicate ways I cut the little dissolvable packets open – it’s messy but works and their colors are great.

stitched botanical experiments

royal cone flower

And toadstools – little guys – mini versions made from the mushroom pattern printed at about 70%  (it scales up and down well). I love the mini- ness – just big enough for the palm of your hand or pocket. everybody needs a lucky mushroom in their pocket – especially in the spring.

mini toadstools




  1. I always liked the buckram Halloween masks we used to get way back in the 1950s. I know I have some of this material around here because I had to get it for old times sake. Love what you’re doing with your buckram. I’m inspired!

    • Halloween masks – interesting- I just googled and saw some cool vintage masks – I ‘m going to try some paper mache experiments – thanks Helen!

      • I look forward to seeing how you put your own special twist into that some day. Something old is new again!

  2. I am loving the toadstools. I think I do need to make some of these for Spring! The cone flower and Lily are incredible. Thank you for the inspiration.

  3. Just went camping and caving and saw lots of bats, so excited to see your little bat. Thanks for all the resource suggestions!

    • Hi Carlene! Caving – so cool – I’m so curious about it as well as deeply claustrophobic – where did you go?

  4. Ann, if you’re interested in more dyeing, you should investigate acid and fibre-reactive dyes (Dharma trading have an enviable selection, compared to here in Australia!). As good as Dylon and iDye are (and they are!), the results from procion dyes will astound you. The colours are so much more vibrant and lightfast, and the process so simple and much more controlled. Tiny batches, delicate fabrics, variations in strength and colour mixing are all infinitely possible – I really cannot exaggerate how much more professional and impressive the results can be. But beware – it can be highly addictive 🙂

    • Hi Zoe – I’m curious about them – I buy stuff from dharma and have seen them – I’ve used the fiber reactive dyes but not the acid. Thanks for the suggestion- I will definitely give those a try and let you know how I do. Thanks so much!

  5. Loving it all!! I agree. Everyone needs a lucky mushroom in there pocket.

  6. Heavyweight Buckram is one of my favourite craft materials! I was introduced to it years ago when doing a Millinery course and have been using it for all sorts of things since. It’s great to stitch and use dry but also fantastic when soaked and stretched over a mould. Leave it to dry and goes back to it’s really tough durable self, but now in a cool new shape. I’ve used it to make tiny doll hats and more recently have been experimenting with making doll faces, like the old Boudoir Dolls of the twenties. Glad you are having fun with it too, it’s a wonderful supply that should be better known. :o)

    • Hi Yve – It so is! There are just so many possibilities – and it’s not expensive or toxic and pretty easy to find. I’m looking forward to messing around with it more this weekend.

  7. Oh Ann I absolutely love the botanicals – the colors are so rich. I recently purchased some of your patterns and am waiting on some fabric to arrive to start in on them – I also love the fabrics you get from Sri threads! Thanks for sharing that source!

  8. love to see everything you do. made with love, clearly.

  9. Maureen Willetts

    Good idea the Buckram stuff, will have to get some of that. I’ve made the mushrooms from your pattern and they are lovely. Now looking forward to the masks. Also made little doll, but scaled her up a bit and I love how she’s turned out as does everyone who’s seen her. Thank you for all your inspirations. Keep them coming.

    • Hi Susan – not so far – it’s something I’m still experimenting with – hopefully someday.

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