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!
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!
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
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.
2. Using a running stitch sew on the wings. Start a little bit below the top of the body. If you don't know how to do a running stitch be sure to watch the tutorial video for details!
3. Great! Now place one bird body piece wrong side facing up (that's the side you want facing in when you're done). Take your tail piece and pinch the narrow end of the tail. Line it up at the end of the body piece.
4. Sandwich the tail between the other body piece and pin the bird body pieces together. Make sure a pin is securing the tail!
5. Thread your needle and tie a knot on the end. Starting underneath the tail, sew back and forth through the body and tail pieces to secure into place.
6. Using a whipstitch, continue to sew all the way around the body, stopping 2" from the other side of the tail. The video has details about how to whipstitch if you need them!
7. Let go of the needle and gently stuff the bird. You don't need a lot! Finish your whipstitch and tie a knot to secure! You're so close to being done. Not too hard, right?
Finish it Up!
Let's make the wreath! Start by threading your needle and knotting it. Set it aside for the moment. Take your strip of green felt and cut it into 3 strips without cutting all the way through the end.
2. Braid the 3 pieces together. Hold the end closed with one hand and grab your bird.
3. Place that end so it's on the neck of the bird. Using a similar stitch to the tail, sew through the side of the bird and the end of the wreath to secure it. Tie a knot. Repeat on the other side.
4. Last step! Find that little piece of felt you cut for the hanging loop. Fold it in half and line it up behind the wings. Use the same locking stitch as the wreath and tail to secure the hanger into place.
Ta-Da! You're peace dove ornament is all set! there are so many ways you can customize this little guy. Once again, check out the video to learn how!
If you find handsewing fun but are ready to venture into machine sewing and don't know where to start, be sure to check out our Kids Learn to Sew at Home video e-course!
For more fun handmade softies follow @sewasoftie on Instagram. Also check out our Messenger Owl Pillow and Winter Gnome Friend video workshops!