Tulip Couture

petal & pins designer Sandra Alcorn creating a miniature dress out of tulips


As a fashion designer with a lovely old rambling garden, petal & pins designer Sandra Alcorn says it was only a matter of time until her passion for flowers and design intertwined.

Her exquisite designs for petal & pins greeting cards and art prints feature photographs of miniature dresses created from nature for her Garden Fairy's Wardrobe®.

 After an invitation to collaborate with a saffron farmer, The Farmgate Project began a collaboration with Tasmanian growers which sees Sandra transform flowers from their farms into her signature botanical couture.

 The latest collaboration with Rebecca from petal & pins Brisbane stockist Farmgate Flowers Direct and tulips from her family’s northern Tasmanian farm Flowerdale Flowers has resulted in six ‘tulip couture’ designs – there’s a dress to match every personality whether classic, flamboyant or always the life of the party… but definitely not demure!

Here Sandra chats with Rebecca about the creative process.

 Where do you draw your creative inspiration from?

 I draw inspiration from the flowers themselves and fashion both vintage and contemporary. A large part of the enjoyment I get from creating the dresses comes from their ephemeral nature, the immediacy of being able to transform an idea into reality (as opposed to working with cloth).

 My experience as a fashion designer shows in the attention to detail within the designs I create with nature, they are sophisticated and extravagant like haute couture but also have a playful side.

 The tulips conjured up for me the colours and opulence of the work of French fashion designer Christian Lacroix so I browsed through some of my fashion books for some inspiration and decided as well as dresses in each colour I would also combine them into one design.

 Some of the designs are created with separated petals and stamens but I also wanted to use them whole and include the beautiful silvery green foliage of the tulips or emphasise the elegant curves of the stems.

 What part of the creative process of designing your cards do you most enjoy?

 My designing is governed by the seasons and there’s something very special about working like that – each season brings a different feel and a sense of anticipation welcoming the return of favourites or discovering something new.

 A large part of the enjoyment I get from creating the dresses comes from their ephemeral nature, the immediacy of being able to transform an idea into reality.

 The element of impermanence also encourages reflection which makes it quite a meditative process. Sometimes it’s just one design or it can be a series with the same flowers and foliage.

 This spring I was delighted to design with Flowerdale Flowers beautiful tulips, a flower I hadn’t explored creatively before, and I enjoy the conversations and connections that have come out of the Farmgate Project collaborations.

 Do you have a favourite flower or particular design out of all your works?

 Oh, this is one of the hardest questions I get asked because I LOVE all flowers – from tiny little ones like forget-me-nots to big bold peonies. But the ones that feature regularly in petal & pins collections are roses and winter hellebores.

 I have a lot of Cécile Brünner rose bushes in my garden and it’s such a classic sweet and pretty rose that it’s inspired a whole collection called Love Letters.

 My current favourites are the new tulip dresses it was so hard to choose just a couple to add to the card range we ended up with six!

petal & pins red tulip dress floral greeting card

Shop the Farmgate Project Collection here.