Flossing the Stem

In French Beading, when someone refers to “flossing the stems” they mean to wrap the finished flower stems with embroidery floss. While this is an optional step, it can be very beneficial. It not only makes the flower stems look nicer, it can help preserve and protect the floral tape beneath it, and therefore help your flowers last longer. 

There are so many different types of floss on the market today… regular cotton floss, silk, satin, metallic, etc… and they can all be used for wrapping the stems on French Beaded Flowers. I’ve written a blog post with examples of some of the different types of floss. 

General Instructions

Let’s start with the basics of how to floss stems. Most of the time you’ll wrap embroidery floss over florist tape. The tape gives the surface a little more grip, so the floss won’t slip around. Floral tape will also help smooth out the stem a little before flossing, which will help reduce the appearance of any bumps. 

  1. Cut a long length of thread from the skein (or spool). It’s easier to work with when it’s detached. OPTIONAL: If you are using regular cotton embroidery thread which comes in 6-strand threads, divide the thread into two 3-strand threads. I get the best results when I do this. Other types of floss probably may not need to be divided.  
  2. Lay the thread against the stem directly below the flower head (or directly below whatever component you are wrapping).  Leave a small tail of the floss trailing down toward the bottom of the stem (Photo 1). You will be wrapping over this tail as you move down the stem, which secures it in place. 
  3. Hold the tail in place and carefully wrap around the stem a few times, moving down the stem with each pass. (Photo 2). Once you have a couple of wraps, the tail should be secure enough that you can move your hand. For type of floss that are made from multiple threads twisted together, untwist it as you wrap to make it flat. This keeps the stem smooth. 
Photo 1
Photo 2

4. Move the hand holding the flower stem further down the stem, leaving the other hand to hold the floss. Then slowly spin the flower (Photo 3). Untwist thread as you need more length, and watch carefully to make sure you cover every bit of the stem. Try to keep your spinning hand off of the flossed sections of stem so you don’t make your floss very fuzzy. 

Photo 3

5.  As you come up to a leaf, or leaf branch, carefully bend the leaf back so you can wrap in the “crack” between the leaf and stem (Photo 4). Then just as carefully, bend the leaf back into position and wrap below it. (Photo 5). 

Photo 4
Photo 5

6. Once you reach the bottom of the stem, you can use a bit of glue to secure the ends of the floss, or wrap over the bottom with a little bit of florist tape. If the end of the stem will be visible, use glue – I like Fabric Tac. If the flower will be in a vase, use tape. (Photo 6

Note: Depending on how the finished flower is used, you may not always need to wrap all the way down a stem. For example, if you’ll be combining it into a bouquet, you can choose to only wrap down to where the stem will join other flower stems. Or if the flower is going in a vase, you can wrap down just below the vase rim if you’d like. 

Photo 6

Photo 7 shows the finished flossed stem. I did use regular cotton floss for this one. 

TIP: If the flower you are flossing has a particularly large bulge below the flower head, it might be easier to start wrapping at the bottom of the stem, working your way up to the flower. I find it easier to wrap up that slope created by the bulge than down it. To secure the floss ends, weave the floss up and down around the outer layer of sepals or flower petals, then cut it short and use a tiny tiny drop of glue to secure the end in a place where it will be hidden. 

You can sometimes use floss to assemble French Beaded Flowers instead of using wire or florist tape (Photo 8). I prefer to only use floss in place of wire and tape for small or medium flowers and flower components, like these Lily of the Valley (pattern available in my shop). 

Photo 7
Photo 8

Adding in New Thread

You may sometimes find yourself halfway down a stem with very little thread left. Here’s how to add in a new thread secretly and securely. 

  1. Begin the join when you have a couple inches of the first thread left. Cut a second thread and divide it if necessary. 
  2. Lay the new thread against the stem wire with a small tail pointing down toward the bottom of the stem. (Photo 9)
  3. Wrap over the new thread with the old thread once, then press the old thread flat against the stem. (Photo 10)
  4.  Start wrapping the new thread in the same direction as you were wrapping the old thread, covering both the new and old floss tails as you wrap down. (Photo 11)
Photo 9
Photo 10
Photo 11

Flossing Order

In some cases, you will need to floss individual component stems before you assemble the flower. Start flossing the outermost pieces, then work your way inward toward the main stem. 

Take this leaf branch for example. 

  1. Before assembling the branch, I’ve flossed the two smaller leaves down to the point where they would attach to the stem. I’ve left the larger leaf un-flossed. (Photo 12)
  2. Then we assemble the leaf branch. For these I am using the floss to attach the leaves to the stem wire. (Photo 13) (You could alternatively use floral tape to assemble, then cover with floss.)
Photo 12
Photo 13
  1. Add in the two flossed leaves as you work down the stem. (Photo 14
  2. Floss down just to where the leaf branch will meet with the main flower stem, then cover the end of the floss with floral tape to secure it. (Photo 15)
Photo 14

After the leaf branch is flossed, add it to the flower stem, then floss the main flower stem. If you wait until after the leaf branch is assembled to wrap the stems on the small leaves, it is much harder to do. And if you floss the main leaf branch before the small leaf stems, you will have no way to cover the floss tails on the leaf stems. 

This leaf branch was accidentally flossed with the DMC Color Variations. I didn’t realize what floss I was using until I was halfway through. 🙂 

© 2019 Lauren Harpster / Bead & Blossom. All rights reserved. The images and written instructions are copyright protected. This tutorial may not be printed and distributed for personal gain or teaching classes, but feel free to print a copy for personal use. The images may not be uploaded onto other websites. If you would like to share the tutorial, please do so with a link! 

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