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Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Flock of Birdies

Now that we seem to have recovered from the plague that befell our house, I have the energy to write about my current project.

I think last season was the season of the bird -- every publication, it seemed, had at least one bird ornament to make. Because of my aforementioned craft obligations I was not able to make any, but now that Christmas is over I'm ready for some pretty little birds to get me through dreary January and February. Besides, birds are appropriate year-round.

I already had a few birdies in my collection:
The one on the upper left is felt, and was a gift last year from my Aunt. The bottom, patchwork bird was made by my mom when I was a little girl; there is a matching heart, too. The one on the upper right I made, also from felt. It's funny, the memories that get attached to things. I bought the pattern in November 2005; I remember, because it was right after my father died. My brother and I were staying with my mom, and after we had taken care of the business of the funeral and other matters, we needed to get out of the house. I had heard of a quilt store an hour away, and we thought a little drive would do us good. But it was a grey, miserable day, and we could not shake the sadness of why we were there in the first place.

The first new addition:
This pattern was in the 2010 Better Homes and Garden's Christmas mag (I forget the exact title). The pattern called for needlefelting the wing onto the body, using a bit of felted striped sweater, and then using the back of the needlefelting for the outside of the ornament to give a fuzzier, softer look to the wing. It seemed like a great idea, and I had a brightly-colored fair isle sweater I never wore, so I felted the sweater and cut it up. Unfortunately, the reason why I never wore it (too thick and bulky) meant disaster when I tried needlefelting -- literally within seconds I broke all five needles on my needlefelting tool. Refusing to give up I tried felting it with just one needle, but that needle bent almost immediately. Defeated, I appliqued the stupid wing on and left it like that.

Felt and Calico birdies:
I've seen birds all over made from scraps of felt and calico, and I love love love the look. But then, I have a great fondness for old-fashioned calicoes, and I can't wait for them to come back in style. These birds were particularly inspired by ornaments I saw a long time ago in a catalog. I cut the bodies out of fabric and sandwiched in the felt tails and beaks. Rather than leave a gap in the sewing to turn them, I sewed all the way around, then cut a slit in the fabric about where the wing would be to turn them right-side-out. I then stuffed the birdies and appliqued felt wings on, covering the hole. I need to remember to stuff in more filling than I think -- these sorts of things look better firmly stuffed.

Paper cloth birdies (color is off; should have waited for daylight):
Simple -- I cut bird shapes out of the paper cloth, and used scraps for the beaks and wings. I sewed the wings on each side and then sewed the two bird sides together, attaching the beaks at the same time. At the last minute I stuck in a loop of thread for a hanger.

Golden partridge:
This is from Fa La La La Felt, a wicked awesome book I picked up in the fall with dozens and dozens of easy felt ornaments and decorations. I want to make every item in that book, and this is a start. The idea of attaching a clothespin to clip the bird onto a tree branch is nifty, and from another felt bird from this book I'm working on. Still have to finish the embroidery, but I have a good-sized flock now.

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