Felt birds tutorial

Felt bird ornament - tutorial

I announced in my last post that I am taking a break on bellydance costuming due to maternity leave. Which means that I will be writing a bit about all the craft projects for the nursery, since I can’t seem to stop blogging. Writing makes me happy.

Let me start out by saying that when I thought about the nursery, my first step was searching for images on Google. This resulted in tons of pictures of huge rooms, soft lush carpets, many drapes and flowing curtains and furniture that looked like it belonged in Versailles if only it had been gold gilded.

And a chandelier, of course.

I like how people around the globe put effort into the nursery and share their rooms on the internet, and it also made me think about what my own preferences are. For the record, my husband is very involved in the process and willing to do the painting assembling and such that is needed. He leaves the creative input to me, on account of me having all kinds of ideas of what would work and look nice.

Our nursery room is the small bedroom next to our master bedroom. It measures app. 3×3 meters (that’s 10 by 10 feet for the US readers). I want it to be cosy, practical and cheerful. Since I am kind of lazy and we have so many other things to do, I try to keep the amount of work needed to decorate the room limited. My first step was choosing a wall decal as a focal point in the room, and coordinate a color scheme around the decal, which we did. We picked an adorable wall sticker of a branch with two birds in red/turquoise/purple. I used Photoshop to draw the color samples underneath the image, printed it and took it with me to the fabric market. If you need a quick photo editor, I like to use the online app Pixlr for quick on the go images. My grand plan is to buy felt and create similar looking birds. Some of them will be stuffed and others will be used as appliques.

Wall decall birds on a branch

What do you need?

For your convenience, I created a pattern: Pattern felt bird nursery (PDF)

Print and use a photocopier to scale the bird up or down. With hanging felt ornaments in mind, I copied the pattern at 73%. The regular pattern is suitable for creating a small plush toy or a larger applique.

  • One color of felt for the main body of the bird
  • One accent color of felt for the belly of the bird
  • Brown or black felt for the wings, tail and eye
  • Matching thread

I paid roughly 10 euro for all the supplies, enough to create a whole flock of birds. For the Dutchies: Hema has nice packages of felt at a good price. They sell it in different color combinations in their craft corner. If you are using this item in a nursery and you are concerned that the baby will grab these and play with the ornaments: pre wash your materials to remove remains of dye and chemicals from the felt. Make sure to use strong, sturdy stitches and don’t add small buttons or beads as eyes.

Putting it all together

I made one bird to try out the process. Felt is easy craft material as it doesn’t fray, holds up well and looks good. If you have never ever sewn or crafted anything in your life, I highly recommend starting with a felt ornament or applique. You can easily make these by hand but I used the sewing machine because I have Big Plans. It would look extra nice with hand stitching and embroidery thread.

Cut all the pattern pieces and layer them on top of each other. Stitch the belly onto the body of the bird.

151006 felt birds 05Take the wings and the eyes, and stitch them to the body. Make sure to use the same angle for the wings on both sides: l ayaer the birds on top of each other and pin the wings into place. Stitch, starting about 5 mm from the edge of the body and stopping 5 mm before the other edge. This allos you some room to fold the wings out of the way for the next step.

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In order to sew the two sides of the birds together, I pinned the wings out of the way and added the beak and a small piece of ribbon folded over. I then stitched all around the body. I used a thicker machine stitch for this step, as I wanted to create a bit of contrast and make the stitches more visible.

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On to the stuffing! I saved all my scraps from another project and added the felt scraps from the birds. I cut it into small pieces and used it to stuff my birds. You can use batting for this step if you prefer. Cut off extra material from the outside of the body to create a smooth line.

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Close the bird by stitching the belly together, either by hand or machine. That’s it! I’ll post some more pictures when I’ve used the birds in the nursery, but so far I found them rather cute all by themselves. If you prefer applique’s, use the tutorial but skip the step for sewing two sides together and stuffing the bird.

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The result

The project was time consuming because there are a lot of tiny seams and curved edges but I am rather pleased with the result. I plan on making turquoise and purple birds as well and use them at various places in the nursery. One more week of regular work and then I’ll be on the couch, binge watching series and crafting more nursery stuff. More crafting is on the way and I already bought a lot of super cute printed fabric pieces for other nursery projects.

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I am  a professional bellydancer and costume-a-holic living in the Netherlands. I’ve been sewing and crafting stuff for over twenty years now and have no intention of stopping. If you enjoyed this post and like to kept in the loop, please like Kyria Bellydance on Facebook or follow me on Twitter. Leave your questions or comments in the box below, or let me know through Facebook and I might write a blog post to answer your costuming question.

Thanks for reading and see you soon!

Black multi-color costume part 1: new belt base

Covering the belt base with fabric

As I examined the original vintage costume it soon was clear to me that I needed a new bra and belt base. Sometimes a costume can be rebuild on the original base but the fabric was already falling apart. A good piece of advice; if you are repairing or fixing a vintage costume, always make sure that the original material is in good shape. No use in rebeading fringe on  a bra that is already disintegrating. However, I didn’t have the time to create a bra and belt base completely by hand. Instead I opted for using my sewing machine for most of the work.

Only attempt such a feat after going through this checklist. Do you…

  1. have a lot of experience with manouvring and sewing thick layers with your machine;
  2. don’t mind breaking a couple of needles during the process (some sewing machines can’t handle breaking needles and need to be recallibrated, and then you’ll have no choice but hand sew everything by hand for the next week or so);
  3. have the right material to work with (if your layers are inpenetrable, don’t even try. You will kill your sewing machine).

I made sure that I checked all three of the requirements and off I went. I bought fairly thick felt on the fabric market and used it to make a new belt base and two arm bands. Simply draw your design on top of the felt (this is why I used white felt) and cut. To even the design, I folded the base with the sides together and adjusted the shape by cutting away excess. I added a couple of scallops to the upper edge of the belt and imitated the scallops in the armbands. I kept an extra bit on one side of the front belt part to leave room for overlap with the closure.

Belt base made from felt
Belt base made from felt

I covered the belt base with black lycra that I had lying around. Why lycra? Because I can stretch it so it smoothly covers the scalloped edges without wrinkles in the fabric. I put my belt base on top of the lycra with the good side of the fabric facing down. I pinned a couple of pins smack in the middle to make sure that the fabric is not shifting when I am sewing the edges. Then, cutting around the belt base with roughly 1″/2,5 cm seam allowance, I cut the lycra. This is an easy step, always to remember to err on the cautious side and cut of more fabric when you have complicated shapes or angles to cover. The extra fabric might come in handy.

Belt base pinned to fabric
Belt base pinned to fabric

Once cut, I started tucking and pinning the lycra over the scallops. For the middle front pointed edge of the belt, I first folded the fabric upwards in a horizontal line, then folded the fabric from the sides inwards. I made small cuts when needed so the fabric was easier to smoothen over the edges.

Covering the belt base with fabric
Covering the belt base with fabric

The end result:

Finished belt base
Finished belt base

Stay tuned for part 2!