Have you seen this bird? He’s flashy, full of personality, and bossy too. And to make him even more exotic, I’m adding a contrasting orange curve of back stitches to form his wing cap using a size 8 Oranges thread. The patterning on his wing is made with Fly stitches filled with French knots. Combining stitches like this is a great way to decorate shapes.
But wait! There’s more!
Filling the wing cap are curved rows of chain stitches repeating those same thread colors found in other parts of the bird. For more patterning, I’ve added stripes of stem stitches to his tail. And his jaunty crest is made with lazy daisy stitches filled with straight stitches and topped with French knots. This guy has class!
Tip: Outline Shapes to Make them More Prominent
But to make my classy bird stand out from the background fabric, a thread color with high contrast is needed. And I’ll use those practically invisible blanket stitches that hold the bird in place on the purple wool to do the job. A Peas in a Pod green thread is whip-stitched through the edges of the blanket stitches so his belly and head really pop out from the background fabric. By outlining his body and eye, the bird becomes more prominent and an important element in this design.
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!