It is spring - although it is still really cold here in Sweden. But the birds have already come back. The area next to my house is full of starlings, they nest in holes in the trees.
This reminded me of a sad thing that happened three years ago, my first spring in this flat. One of the starlings flew into the window and died.
I checked what we can do to keep them away from flying into the glass, and found that a black silhouette of a hawk is the usual solution. But who wants to look at a dark shape all day? So I made a shape, made it dark on one side and nice and colourful on the other. It was actually one of my first attempts at patchwork. It is hanging in my window ever since and we had no more accidents, thank God.
I though I would like to make one or two more, and that I can perhaps make a tutorial while I am at it. But please, don't expect something very precise, it is more a description of my own experimenting, that you can follow and make your own, if you want.
I made two pieces, using the method known as "quilt as you go". I used a very thin, iron-on batting (Vlieselin X50) on one bird, and on the other one something that is more an interfacing for bags to make them a bit sturdier - sorry, don't remember what it is. But I don't think it is very important what kind of batting or interfacing you use. It can also be something else, a piece of felt, for example, or perhaps some sturdy leftover fabric sprayed with starch. For the back, that needs to be dark, I used some old jeans, this way this also became a recycling project!
I am not very good at drawing but luckily there are thousands of such silhouettes on the internet to download and use. I used this one. I printed it on an A4 page, then enlarged with the photocopier to an A3 size (140 %).
(Later I realised that it was silly of me: I should have drawn a line around the bird, and only photocopy and enlarge the drawing - it was a waste of ink to print all that black.)
So, draw your shape or find one on the net you like and make it as big as you wish.
Cut around the shape and put it on the material you want to use as the base of your work: batting, interfacing, felt etc.
Draw around it and cut out the shape from the batting. Also gather some small pieces of fabric scraps, mostly strips. Make it randomly colourful as I did, or choose a colour scheme that suits your home.
Choose a piece of fabric that is long enough to cover one section of the bird. Put it down right side UP. I started in the middle, but I think it would work just as well starting at one of the wind tips, too.
Take your next piece and put it on top of the first one, matching one edge, right side facing DOWN. As you see, my fabric edges are not very straight, and it does not really matter.
Sew a 6 mm - 1/4 inch - seam allowance.
Flip the second piece up, and finger press well. This is one of the disadvantages of using an iron-on batting or interfacing: you cannot iron your pieces as you open them. (I did have some creases on my work because of that - but luckily they are not very visible.)
If you are using something that is not sticky, go ahead and iron your pieces as you go.
Continue in the same manner. I think it looks nicer if not all your fabric pieces are of the same width, and you slant them a little as you go. You don't even need to cut the fabric pieces in advance - just sew them and clip the seam allowance afterwards.
Soon you will have the whole shape covered with fabric pieces.
Cut around the shape, leaving about 1 cm of the fabric pieces overhanging the base.
Put it face down on a piece of denim - preferably (for the environment) from some old, worn jeans.
Pin, and sew around, trying to sew right next to your base shape. Leave a hole for turning it inside out!
Sorry, I forgot to take pictures of the next few steps. But it is not very difficult. :)
Cut around the shape once again, this time cutting the jeans. Clip the corners and curves. Turn it inside out, fold in the seam allowance of the opening, iron well, and topstitch all around - this way closing the hole, too.
I forgot to add a piece of ribbon before sewing them together, so I sewed it on from the outside - not very elegant.
Here it is all ready to hang:
With the ironing the batting got glued to the denim, so I did not need any quilting lines - this is why I chose them for the base. But if you want to use something that is not iron-on, you can add a few quilting lines to keep all the three layers together.
The second bird was made almost exactly the same way - only with the interfacing. I made the shape just a bit bigger, and planned my lines a bit more carefully in advance. I drew the lines I wanted to follow on the paper pattern, but not on the interfacing. I tried to follow them as good as I could just eyeballing it, without stressing too much about it.
This is what it looks like halfway done.
Put it on the denim face down, the same way as the first one, and sewed around. Only this time it was really hard. The interfacing did not want to move under the presser foot, it got stuck all the time. It was not my best sewing experience. Perhaps I should have got a teflon coated presser foot or something.
Anyway, I managed. Turned it inside out, folded in the seam allowance on the opening and ironed it well. Sewed a piece of ribbon on the tip of a wing to hang it with - this time remembered to do it from the inside. Then topstitched around the bird.
As you can see, the topstitching did not go very smooth either, it got stuck under the machine a few times. Luckily, it only shows on the denim side - and that side is only for the birds to see. I hope they will not complain. :)
Make some patchwork birds! Hang them in your windows, help the birds stay alive and at the same time create something cheerful for yourselves too look at.
Now I am thinking that this would look lovely in a kid's room, too, in any shape, not only birds. Hm…
I hope you guys will find this tutorial helpful. Happy sewing.