Are you looking at me? Eyes bring everything to life, including this little bluebird. His eye, made with black pearl cotton thread, is stitched in a circle using stem stitches. The small French knot of white acts as the highlight, animating the bird. Rows of stem stitches create his beak and are stitched with a Size 12 Butter, one of my favorite colors of thread and a favorite food. Everything is better with butter on it!
Tip: Repetition of Color
One way to balance out a design is to repeat color throughout the piece. Repetition of color draws the eye around artwork, engaging the viewer. Here you see a size 12 Red Hots thread used on the tail and the belly of the bird. I’ve chosen this red because it is the same red found in the apple.
Those stitches on his tail are lazy daisy stitches placed close together and building a solid shape. Using that same red thread, his belly is stitched with rows of blanket stitches. I can create boxes by stitching the rows next to each other, so his belly has a snazzy pattern suggesting he is a well-dressed bird. Sort of a dandy of a bird. What a show-off!
Need to attach a fabric shape to another fabric? Try the blanket stitch. Here I’ve used a size 12 Aquamarine thread to attach the bird to the purple background fabric using the blanket stitch. I chose this thread color so it blends in with the bird fabric. It’s functional rather than decorative.
Tip: Thread Colors
Now comes the fun part- adding decorative stitches to the bird. Thread colors can blend into the fabric (like the blanket stitches around the bird) or contrast with the fabric. Thread colors that contrast create lines and help define shapes like the wing and tail of the bird.
One of those line-making stitches is the stem or outline stitch. I’ve used stem stitches to form the arc of the wing using a size 8 Sprouts thread, and that same thread outline his tail with blanket stitches. The channel of stem stitches on the edge of the wing is filled in with lazy daisy stitches using a Lime Frappe thread in size 8. Lime Frappe is very variegated so the colors change quickly.
You may ask, “Does that bird have any tail support?” Yes, I’m happy to say that a piece of blue felt is placed under his tail and stitched to the edge of the purple fabric. The blanket stitches holding the bird’s body in place continue around the tail and attach the tail support. That way, he doesn’t have a floppy tail. And as my aunt once said, “You can never have enough tail support.”
It’s Spring in Illinois, and the birds are living it up! As they hop from branch to branch and trill their arias, I listen to their birdsong so I can identify them. Of course, there is an app for that. The Merlin Bird ID app from Cornell Lab is a great way to identify the birds in your neighborhood. Try it!
So being in full bird-watching mode, I’ve decided to add a bird to the apple project. Without a pattern to follow, I’ve free-cut the bird from this gorgeous blue wool felt from Commonwealth Felt. We seldom see bluebirds in my backyard, but a girl can dream!
Tip: Place Elements at an Angle
The next step is to tack the bird onto the purple wool before stitching him into place. You’ll notice that he is tilted slightly down as he rests on the branch. One method of adding interest and movement to a design is to place elements at an angle. That slight tilt of the bird’s body lends action to the piece and brings the sweet bluebird to life.
I’ve also placed his tail off the edge of the design. His little tail acts as an arrow leading your eye toward the apple. It’s a way of showing the interaction between the two elements, the bird and apple. Will he peck the apple? Will he sing to the apple? I’m not sure. I’m just happy to have him in my neighborhood!