Retro Crafting-DIY Raffia Flowers To Decorate a Straw Bag

How to make raffia flowers to decorate a straw purse

I love straw purses, especially flower decorated straw purses from the 1950s, 60s and 70s.  They’re so colorful and kitschy and are really fun to wear with summer outfits.

So when I spotted this ho hum straw purse in a local thrift store recently the first thing I thought of was those cute straw bags from the past and how this little plain jane bag could benefit from a retro makeover.

So I purchased it and started researching how to make raffia flowers to decorate my new find.

Straw purse

Back in the day flower crafting was a big thing. There were all kinds of books on how to make flowers to incorporate into clothing, accessories and anything else you could get your crafty little hands on!

Retro flower loom craft

Here’s an image of a whole bunch of adorable vintage flower embellished straw purses.

Vintage straw flower craft

And, as I suspected, there is a wealth of information online about flower crafting.  I discovered I needed what’s known as a flower loom.  Luckily a Joann’s close by to me had them. So I could get right to work on my project.  You can order them online too. They are very inexpensive.


Vintage flower loom craft

As you can see by the picture on the instruction pamphlet, yarn is used.  But I wanted raffia flowers, which works just as well with this little contraption.  The raffia came all wrapped together in a big chunk, but when taking it apart it was in 1 yard individual pieces. Since you need at least a couple of yards or more, depending on how thick you want to make your flower, you need to tie ends to each other and clip off the excess. That way you’ll end up with a much longer piece to work with.

Raffia flower tutorial

The instructions are easy to follow. But I’ve included some pictures of key steps to make it even easier!

You need to tie a slip knot at the end of your raffia and tighten it on the little side peg before you start wrapping. That way your raffia is anchored before you begin to weave the rest onto the other pegs.

Flower loom tutorial

The instructions say to mark each peg with numbers one through 12. If you’re careful you don’t have to do that. But it is helpful to keep your place as your going around. Start by wrapping the raffia at what would be 12 o clock, then down around 7, back up to 1 then down around 8, etc.  in a clockwise pattern. I went around three times for some flowers and four for others.

Flower loom DIY On the final round there should be at least 18 inches of raffia left , the end of which gets threaded through a large plastic needle (comes in kit).  Weave up and down through pegs to secure center. You can also take the raffia end off the side peg and tie it to the other end to finish. Then thread contrasting color raffia for a different effect. I did it both ways. Just remember when you’re done, you’ll have to tie off ends and trim. But it will all be on the back and not noticeable.

raffia flower tutorial

Use this tool (which also comes with kit)  to lift the raffia loops off the loom. After lifting about 4 you’ll be able to take the rest off easily with just your hand.

DIY raffia flowers
And because I was having so much fun messing around with this stuff, I decided I needed another style flower on the purse as well. Something that had more of a fringey look.  So I cut 18 pieces of raffia in strips. You can make them as long as you like as long as long as they’re pretty even.  I wanted flowers smaller than the ones off the loom, so I cut them about 2 1/2 inches long.

DIY-raffia flowers

Dabbing a bit of glue at the center, add the next piece perpendicular to the first, and proceed with remaining layers, rotating and gluing the sections as you go. You’ll have to secure with your fingers and it gets a little messy. That’s why I used Elmer’s for this.  You’ll have to gingerly lift it off whatever base you had it set on, so it doesn’t permanently stick to that!  I just held it in my hand till it dried, keeping pressure on the glued center. Dries quickly though.

DIY-raffia-flower purse decoration

Once dry, take some scissors and snip vertically into the strands of raffia and then fluff a little.

Raffia Flower Straw Purse

Raffia flower straw bag

Glue on your decoration of choice. I happened to have a big bag of old buttons that came in a vintage sewing basket I had purchased.  I pulled out some I liked, snipped off the shanks with wire cutters and then used E6000 to glue them on. I also glued the flowers to the purse using E6000.

Raffia flower decorated straw bag

My makeover has now given this plain straw bag some retro pizzaz.

These are very easy and fun to make, almost addicting. And I can see there are endless possibilities for embellishing with beads, buttons, shells,  etc. Am already thinking of my next project!

Just found this on Ebay. Two vintage flower loom craft books and two looms!  All for a Buy it Now of only $22.99.  Very tempting!

Flower loom projects

Do you like kitschy straw purses? Have you done any flower crafting? Do tell!


Till next time…..


Linking up with Catherine/Not Dressed as a Lamb for #SaturdayShareLinkup

By | 2017-08-26T10:25:58-04:00 August 21st, 2017|Crafts/DIY, Lifestyle|4 Comments

About the Author:

Hi, I'm Theresa, owner and chief classy dame at the Blue Velvet Vintage online boutique. Lover of mid century fashion and home decor, classic films, Old Hollywood, pretty dresses, red lipstick, swing dancing and retro culture in general. Between my ecommere site and vintage style blog my mission is to revive the eras of classy dressing and inspire women to add more glamour to their lives! So don't be shy! I love to hear from others who share my appreciation of the styles of the past.


  1. Theresa Campbell
    Theresa Campbell August 24, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    That’s a great idea. I can also picture them on headbands, scarves, the sky’s the limit!

  2. Avatar
    Vicki August 22, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    Cute! I remember my mom having a couple of purses like this back in the 70s. And I like that photo where the crochet shawl is decorated with flowers. I’d like to try that on one of my wraps.

  3. Theresa Campbell
    Theresa Campbell August 22, 2017 at 9:11 am

    You should try it. I’m sure you could master it in minutes considering how talented you are! Do not be intimidated by the instructions. After trying a few times you’ll totally get the hang of it.

  4. Avatar
    Vix August 22, 2017 at 3:22 am

    I’ve got a 1960s flower loom but for some reason I can’t get to grips with the instructions even though they’re probably aimed at a child. Your tutorial makes things so much clearer – thank you!
    I love your makeover. I’m always looking for vintage straw bags in charity shops but end up having to sell tham as they’re in such high demand! xxx

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