Songbird tutorial

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My goal each day is to find my heartsong… something that makes my heart sing out loud.  So it’s not surprising that I’ve been a bit obsessed with birds lately.  We have 8 as pets.  And they pop up all the time in my paintings.  And my sewing.  Chirpy little songbirds… I can’t get enough.  So I am here today to share them with you.

I love softie birds… there are lots of patterns for them out there, I know.  Your best buddy Google will hook you up if you want to take a look at all of the hundreds of tutorials out there.  This one is my baby… I tweaked and played around with dimensions until I got the perfect plump little bird, and I also (as far as I know!) invented using felt inside the wings to make them bend outwards like they are lifting off in flight, and I also attach them with buttons so that they can swivel any way that you find jaunty 🙂
Heartsong Fine Art’s Songbird Tutorial:

1. This is the hardest part of the tutorial, because I don’t really use a pattern.  I’ve drawn for you roughly what the pieces look like… they really don’t need to be perfect, because you trim anything that is uneven or doesn’t match up… and you really can’t get the proportions wrong.  You just use this as your guide… you can make a huge bird or a tiny one… go for it and have fun.  Cut out 1 tummy piece, two body pieces, four wing pieces (I like to mix and match fabrics… this is a great scraps buster) and two *more* wing shapes out of felt.

2.  This is what you will end up with:

3.  Now go ahead and cut a bunch more while you are at it, because these birds don’t take long to whip up and I bet you can make these faster then you think you can!

5.  Here is the best part.  Do you have an old stash of buttons?  Make a cup of tea, spill them out on the floor, and have fun daydreaming and sorting through them.  Pick out two buttons for each bird.  This will be the longest part of the tutorial, I promise.  You’ll sew the rest of this bird more quickly then you will have picked out it’s button color.

6.  Line up one edge of the tummy piece on top of one of the body pieces… right sides together.  Stitch along the bottom curve, just the the length of the tummy piece, as shown.

7.  Place the second body piece, right sides together, on top of the original body piece.  Fold the tummy piece open so that the open end of the tummy piece lines up with the new body piece… as shown.

8.  Making sure to leave a gap along the bird’s back (for turning and stuffing) begin to sew the edge starting at the back of the bird, around the tail, across the tummy side that hasn’t been attached yet, then up the head and stopping one inch before reaching your starting point.  I will show you in the next several pictures how I get the *sewn* portion of the tummy out of the way to sew the new side:

Starting to sew, beginning on the back of the bird:

Stopping just as the needle passes into the tummy piece… I keep the needle paused in the fabric and flip the tummy out of the way:

…flipping…

…now lay it back down and sew the tummy, continuing on up around the head.  Leave a gap for flipping the bird… wait!  Did I really just say that?  Well, at this point, I bet you feel like flipping *me* the bird, but wait.  You’ll like me again by the end, when your bird is staring back at you, demanding that you be nice.

9.  Your bird should now look like this:

10.  I cut off the extra fabric at the beak and tail points, but that’s about the only contour work I do.  If you want to snip the curves… have at it!

11.  Now turn the bird right-side-out, stuff as you please with filling, and hand stitch the small opening in the back closed.

You are almost there!  I usually leave the thread attached and come out about where I want one of the wings to attach.

I let the bird rest like that (well, as much as the poor thing can rest with a metal spear slicing through his little body) while I whip out the two wings…

12.  Line up the three layers of wing pieces with the two good sides out and the felt piece in between, like this:

13.  Sew around the outer edge, then trim the excess off, leaving a cute raw edge, with a peek of the contrasting felt visible.  Notice how the wing curls slightly, I like to enhance that curl by rolling it up for a moment, and then when I sew the wings on, I like them to be curling away from the body on each side… so cute!

14.  So here is whatcha got:

15.  All that is left is for you to sew the wings on!  Yippee!  Just sew one wing on (along with it’s button) and go through the bird to sew on the other wing.  Tie a knot and bury the end of the thread in the body of the bird.

16.  Yea!  You made it!  Your bird is so proud of you! And I am too.  As long as you didn’t actually flip me the bird while making it.

You can perch this bird on anything you can think of.  These particular birds were used in my shop on birdhouses and a wall organizer.  If you didn’t make it through, and you would rather have me make you one, just visit my shop!

I am happy to share my secrets with you… but please only make these birds for your own personal use, and do not use them in items that you sell.  Also, if you like this tute, I’d love if you spread the word… I’m trying to get my blog to grow!  I’ve added water and soil and plenty of sun, but I’d love your word of mouth too, just to be sure 🙂  xoxo