This past Wednesday, my M.I.L. and I got together for a sewing party. She had a project she had been saving up to work on that was recommended by her dear friend, Robin, who is amazing quilter and sewist. [Aside: Robin made Mark and I a beautiful quilt for our wedding that combines so many unusual fabrics. For color ideas, she looked at our registry, and used her genius to create this beauty:
Anyway, Robin recommended this bird pincushion and needle-keep as an easy and fun project. Well, I can attest, though we had fun and laughed a lot, it was anything but “easy” for us. I felt like I went from Sewing 101 with my denim skirt to Sewing 505. But you have to admit, even though it took me from 9a – 9p to complete two birds, they are rather adorable:
The best part: choosing your fabrics. Robin had shared a big stack of her fabric remnants with us to use, and I loved trying to find coordinating yet contrasting fabrics. Here are some fabrics I pulled for my next bird.
The toughest part: where to begin…? I think getting the three different seams to all line up without puckering or overlapping or underlapping (yes, I invented a word).
The most time-consuming part: all of the hand-stitching, which you have to do on five different sections. By the end, my hand-stitching was looking a little sloppy, I’m not gonna lie.
We fondly nicknamed this project “Just Leave It.” Let me use some dialogue to demonstrate why:
M: “Uh oh. My bird looks like it has a hunchback.”
L: “Let me see.” Pause. “I think it’s fine. Just leave it.“
L: “I’m having neck issues again. His little neck looks pinched.”
M: “Hmmmm.” Pause. “Nah. I’d just leave it.“
Now I know Michelangelo didn’t say “just leave it,” when sculpting the David and da Vinci didn’t say “just leave it,” when painting the Mona Lisa; however, when you go from T-ball to the Major Leagues in a matter of a few days, “Just leave it,” is perfectly acceptable in my mind. Our birds may not have noses that sit straight or wings that perfectly match up, but I’d like to think that that adds to their charm.
Here are a few tips if you decide to tackle this project:
- Use an iron to press your pieces throughout your project.
- Use the back of a paintbrush to poke the nose and wing edges through.
- When stuffing your bird with walnut litter, use a funnel and REALLY stuff it well. Use your finger to stuff the head and tail to the point where the litter is almost overflowing. In order to help you hand-stitch the opening shut, use a layer of saran wrap (brilliant idea by my F.I.L.) to help keep the exposed litter inside. You’ll sew that saran wrap inside.
- When notching, don’t make your notches too long. 1/8th inch or so should do it. Also, don’t be afraid to add notches on your wings. I think mine could have used them to help ease up those tight curves.
- Sew both button eyes on at the same time by sewing through the head. You can even pull your thread tight to draw your eyes together a bit.
- Your second bird will be MUCH easier than the first, so don’t give up if it’s too challenging. I was definitely encouraged after completing bird #2.
- Name your bird…Chirpy, Hunchback, whatever name suits it best. It will help you keep a sense of humor about your “just leave it” moments.
And speaking of humor, we were both pretty slap-happy by the end, giggling at about anything. Here was our attempt at a timed photo, right after I had accidentally sat on Maggie-the-Dog’s tail.
Our second attempt. Not much better than the first!
And here are all of our completed birds lined up for the bird parade (including one of Robin’s!).
So, if you’re enticed to make your own, here’s a link to the pattern that we used by Susan Maw. And if you want to download a similar pattern by Joel Dewberry for free, I found this video tutorial and pattern on The DIY Dish. (This design is missing the separate top-piece, though it appears easier to create.)
And remember, if you’re feeling overwhelmed about your bird being lopsided, “just leave it.” This is not the David.
I link up here!