Festive Feathers: a Handsewing Project

You know that machine sewing is my favorite (both to do and to teach) but every once in awhile I love a good hand sewing project! When Trixi at Sew a Softie started posting all the wonderful projects in her "Sew a Softie for the Festive Season" roundup, I couldn't wait to join in.

Figuring out a project was a no-brainer- a bird ornament!

My dad is an amazing carver and when I was a kid he would carve birds as gifts every year. Friends, family, teachers-- everyone would get one of his birds. So it only made sense to me that I would do the same!

One of the great parts of this pattern is that it's easy to turn it into any kind of bird you want (my dad would change up the kind of bird he made each season). I'll be showing you how to make a peace dove today but make it a bluebird, cardinal or whatever your bird-loving heart desires!

This is a super fun and easy project for little and big hands alike. The materials are minimal and no sewing machines are needed.

I highly recommend watching the YouTube video below for all the details. I go into lots of details about selecting the right kind of materials, how to do each stitch and how to customized to make your bird one of a kind!

If you want a quick "Cliff Notes" style tutorial then keep on reading below. As a fair warning: the photos for the quick tutorial are screenshots from the video tutorial. Sometimes I can get that perfect still shot, sometimes not so much. Again, the video tutorial is the real meat and potatoes of instruction!

Ok, you're game for some photos in motion and brief instructions? Let's get started!

The Materials

Body, wings and tail: a piece of felt. I wax poetic about my favorite felt and why in the video but the long and the short of it: Eco-Fi brand felt (commonly found at craft stores) is easier for little hands to sew and a wool/rayon blend felt is nicer to look at but harder to sew.

Wreath and loop: A smaller scrap of felt. About 1" x 5" for the wreath and 1" x 3" for the loop.

Thread: You can use any kind of thread for this. The birds in the photo above were made with 100% polyester all purpose thread which disappears more into the felt. Embroidery and craft floss work well too (again, check out the video for the pros and cons)!

Stuffing: You only need a tiny bit of stuffing for this project. If you don't have stuffing then fabric scraps or cotton balls will work too!

Pattern: Download the bird pattern here. Make sure to print it at 100% or no scale if you want the bird to be the same size as mine!

The Tools

Scissors: Fabric scissors and paper scissors.

Pins: To keep the pattern on and pieces together I like ball headed pins, however if you're worried about small fingers getting poked you can use safety pins.

Chalk/marking tool: I prefer to use tailor's chalk to trace my pattern pieces.

Needles: If you're using embroidery or craft floss use a needle with a medium sized eye.


1. Cut out all your pattern pieces on the black line.

2. Fold the felt in half and layout the body and wing pieces. You'll want to cut two of each of these. Pin the pattern on and trace with the chalk. Remove the pattern pieces and re-pin the fabric together so it doesn't slip when cutting.

3. Cut on your chalk line. Smaller hands may have a hard time cutting through both layers. In that case, trace and cut twice.

4. Open the fabric up and trace the tail. Cut on that line. All the cutting is done! Take a breather and on to the sewing!

Pinning and Sewing

  1. Set your body pieces so it looks like they are kissing. We are going to put wings on both sides but they need to be "mirror opposite" of each other in order to make the bird.