Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep!

So would you like to make your own little hanging Easter birds? Then read on...

You will need a small square of felt (any colour), at least 6" (15 cm) square, some bondaweb, scraps of patterned fabrics in the colours you want your bird, some decorative thicker threads to make cords, a small scrap of yellow or orange felt, a small handful of toy stuffing and some beads for finishing off.

Cut the bondaweb to the same size as your piece of felt and iron it to the felt... Make sure the rough side of the bondaweb is facing down onto the felt or you will end up with a bit of a mess on your iron!

Peel away the paper backing...

Now cut your fabric scraps into different size squares and rectangles between 1" and 2" square, and begin to arrange them over the bondaweb side of the felt. Make sure the fabrics overlap slightly so that none of the felt is showing and don't worry about rough edges.

When you are happy with the arrangement, iron them in place to stick to them onto the felt.

Now it's time to stitch! Thread your sewing machine with a toning thread and start to stitch gently meandering rows of automatic patterns. If your machine doesn't have in built patterns, a zigzag stitch will work just fine. Keep the stitching going in one direction only... If it goes in all directions all over the surface it tends to look a bit of dog's dinner combined with all the patterned fabrics.

Keep going until the entire surface is covered with stitching.

Then change your thread colour and go over it all again, making sure any loose edges are stitched well down. And when you've done that, add another layer of stitch in a glittery or metallic thread to add a bit of sparkle to the surface. If you find it tricky to stitch with metallic threads try using a larger needle (size 100) and loosen the top tension on your machine slightly.

Now mark a 4" (10cm) circle on the back of your felt (I draw around a large mug)... Depending on the size of your felt you might fit in more than one circle and of course you can make different size birds by marking different size circles, but I find 4" is a good size.

Cut out your circle... Or circles...

Set your machine to a close zigzag (satin stitch) and zigzag around the circle, neatening the edges.
You could just stop now and have a fancy coaster or two... but if you are making birds...

Now you need to make the legs. You could use a ready made cord, or plait or twist together some pretty threads but I like to make a machine wrapped cord. Start with three or four pretty threads... About 18" (45cm) lengths of each.

Set the machine for free machine embroidery... Lower the feed dogs and put the embroidery foot on the machine. Choose the zigzag setting and holding your threads taut (this is important to stop the threads disappearing down the race) zigzag over the threads along their entire length.

Cut a small triangle from the scrap of yellow felt for the beak. I usually use a double piece and here I've stitched two bits together. Cut a 9" (20 cm) length of cord and fold it in half for the legs. And now you are ready to assemble your bird...

Fold your circle of fabric in half, tuck the beak under one end and start to stitch the two halves together, trapping the beak as you stitch. When you get half way round tuck the legs in place and stitch them into the seam too. I do this on the machine but you could oversew by hand. 

Stop when you get almost all the way round and put a small amount of stuffing inside the bird before finishing to stitch the two halves together.

Finish off your bird by stitching on a couple of beady eyes, add some larger beads or buttons onto the ends of the legs and stitch on another length of cord on it's back to hang the bird up with. I like to add a couple of bells too. I like to keep them quite simple but you could customise your birds with tail feathers, wings and all manner of decorations. 
Have fun! And do share your results... I'd love to see them!


  1. I think I could actually manage to make one of those! I am going to shop for felt and bondaweb this weekend. Thanks for sharing. x

  2. Thank you, Gina I will try to get one done before heading off for a week of workshops, (before the surgery!) Anything to keep my mind off things.

  3. You already know - I hope! - that I love your work, but I am again in awe knowing that you make your own thread for the birds legs! Your talent knows no bounds!!! This is a wonderful tutorial and taught me so much that I had no idea about. Thank you so much!!! xx

  4. Awe that is clever Gina, especially the leg making, what a super little bird!
    Oh I know that 'mess on the iron' thing!! 😁
    V x

  5. Gina, you've given us wonderfully clear and friendly instructions on how to grow a jolly bird. It's possible that I might get my lovely little Janome sewing machine back into action before long.

    I've never seen, bought or used Bondaweb, and very much appreciate all your tips about its use.

    (You might smile to think of my having some "embroidery" projects this week to mend some fraying areas of my favorite pair of jeans. I hand-basted some pieces of linen remnants on to the wrong side of my jeans, and then did a variety of my version of sashiko stitching from the right side of the jeans, using the linen to reinforce the tender frayed denim. I used a folded piece of cardbord as a backing to keep the double-layered sewing surface smooth. (No place for an embroidery hoop.)

    Does my description of my make do and mending make sense? I'm so glad to rescul these jeans, although a new pair is waiting to take over if my sewing does not hold on for long.

    You inspired me! xo

  6. I can see these pretty little birds appearing all over the country and I'm sure our sewing group will soon be busy making them. Thank you for a beautifully clear and detailed tutorial Gina. I will be sure to share on Facebook.

  7. Lovely clear instructions and the results look so pretty hanging in your garden. Thankyou Gina.

  8. Lovely:) Thank you for sharing the instructions.

  9. They are just so pretty!xx

  10. They're lovely. And I did smile when I read your instructions about which way up to put the bondaweb, been there, done that!

  11. Aha! Ignore my comment on the last post as I've now caught up with this one and understand what the birds are all about. Lovely idea for Easter. Might make robins instead and then I'd be ahead of the game for Ch******s. At my speed I might just finish in time.

  12. Excellent! Very clear instructions, and perfect for a batch of Christmas robins methinks. Your comment about the stitching becoming a bit of a "dog's dinner" made me laugh though - the Whippet's favourite dinner is fishy dog biscuits with brewer's yeast, leftover chicken skin, carrot peelings and yogurt pot rinsings: any amount of random stitching in any colour in any direction has got to be better than that!!

  13. Absolutely adorable! May make some with the grandkids tomorrow!

  14. Loved your little birds and just had to make some of my own -

  15. I saved a link to this page from last year so that I could make them about now. Thank you for the timely reminder Gina.


I love getting your comments and I love to read what you have to say so thank you for taking the time! I reply when I can by email... or if you are a no reply blogger, then I sometimes post a reply in the comments.