Although many crepe paper flower designs are simple frills that do not require a pattern, having a pattern can be useful for more realistic designs, such as roses and lilies. You can find free downloadable, printable patterns for crepe paper flowers, or you can purchase a book of crepe paper flower patterns for a wider variety of designs.
Making crepe paper flowers became popular in the early 1900s as a way of decorating family graves for Memorial Day, especially for families who did not have real flowers available, or who had to travel some distance to the cemetery. Since pre-printed patterns and templates were not available, mothers and daughters designed their own patterns based on common flowers they saw. The rose, sweet pea and morning glory were particularly popular designs.
Most people picture streamers, or long, narrow rolls of paper, when they think of crepe paper. In general, rolls of crepe paper streamers are about 2 inches wide. To use flower patterns with this type of crepe paper, you'll need patterns that are no wider than 1 7/8 inches. However, some craft stores and online suppliers also sell crepe paper in sheets up to 20 inches wide. This type of crepe paper allows you to use larger flower patterns as well, such as those designed for tissue paper. You can also resize many larger flower patterns on a copy machine to make them small enough to use with narrow crepe paper streamers.
You can print a free pattern for a crepe paper rose, sweet pea or morning glory, as well as instructions, from "Bittersweet" magazine. Be sure to click the image of the pattern in order to see it full-sized before printing. You can also buy the crepe paper flower pattern book, linked below, that includes roses, irises, dahlias, carnations, sweet peas, oriental poppies, narcissus or daffodils, and delphinium, or use a tissue paper flower pattern book with crepe paper sheets.
Many crepe paper flower patterns include several separate pieces, such as a petal, a leaf and a base or sepals. This way, you can make each part of the flower out of different colours of crepe paper to make it look more realistic. Some patterns, such as the rose pattern from "Bittersweet," also include patterns for buds. For a bouquet or wreath of crepe paper flowers, you can create a mix of flowers and buds to make the bunch look more realistic, or use the same pattern to create flowers in several sizes and colours for variation.
Once you have a few basic crepe paper flower patterns, you can modify them to create a wider variety of flower designs. For example, the rose pattern could also look like a camellia if you use the same petals but make the leaves wider and slightly more rounded. The morning glory pattern could also look like a calla lily if you add a crepe paper stamen, and the lily pattern could work for a daffodil if you use yellow paper and add a frilly loop of crepe paper to the centre.