Birds on Felt Tutorial


This technique works as well for rabbits, cats, etc... as well as my beloved birds..







I embroider the birds (or animal) on felt, cut it out and applique it to a block.. As in these goldfinches, I tucked in a little cotton before the final stitches to the block to "plump" them out...




I used a firm high quality felt in a neutral color or a color that blends...I use felt that is available at fabric or craft store.. Most any felt will work but you don't want something cheap that will pill or too stiff as some squares are.....

 I either sketch or trace the bird on the felt.Then very first step is to outline it in a VERY TIGHT chain stitch...for two reasons. 1. Felt has a tendency to stretch and you don't want your robin turning into an eagle.... 2. The tight chain stitch defines the edge nicely and you can weave all outer stitches into it and it makes cutting it out later very tidy indeed.. When it comes time to applique the motif onto something you can weave your stitching into this same tight chain stitch....



After I finish the chain-stitch outline I add some "contour guidelines" I have a tendency to focus so hard on my fill-in stitches that they wander off in all directions... Following the guidelines give the body of bird or animal shape and also provides the "grain" or direction of the fur or feathers....

Then I begin filling in with long and short stitches in the base colors... I keep the stitches rather irregular in length because it gives a feathery look... The "contour guidelines" are incorporated into the stitching and become invisible... I am about to start the tail and use guidelines there also.... Since this is on a stumpwork round robin I am doing the wing separate (as shown) and will attach it at the end so the vignette has even more dimension.






Now I will finish the tail and use some white, light blue and darker blue to do some shading.... Just like painting... 

Once that is done I turn it over so I can see where the original chain stitch is done and using small scissors I cut right next to the chain stitch... You have a nice secure edge for applique...nothing to turn under or fray......


Here are the front and back of the cover for my featherweight sewing machine.. The photo on the Singer cover is my grandmother at about 15 years old.

Addendum: I received an e-mail asking me to be more specific as to how I applique the birds (flowers, rabbits, etc.) to the block with the stitching appearing invisible...
The very first step was to outline your motif in a VERY TIGHT chain stitch...for two reasons. 1. Felt has a tendency to stretch and you don't want your robin turning into an eagle.... 2. The tight chain stitch defines the edge nicely and you can weave all outer stitches into it and it makes cutting it out later very tidy indeed.. When it comes time to applique the motif onto something you can weave your stitching into this same tight chain stitch....
With this photo of Arlene's bird you can see I am only part way through doing the long and short. As I start the green tail I will weave the long and short stitches along the edge right into the chain stitch.
Once that is done I turn it over so I can see where the original chain stitch is done and using small scissors I cut right next to the chain stitch... You have a nice secure edge for applique...nothing to turn under or fray...... Then I use matching threads and stitch the applique down catching the thread into that original "very tight chain stitch" and occasionally weaving it a stitch or two into the applique.. ... literally making the attachment process part of the motif.
As I go around the motif I change the thread I am using to match the colors in the motif... So on Arlene's bird I will use green, blue and red as I sew it down...
As you can see on the with the goldfinches it would had been yellow, white, and black...

13 comments:

  1. Ah Ha! This is how you add those precious little bunnies I've been seeing, I'll bet! Thank you for the tutorial! Karla

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  2. Nice instructions and very apperciated!

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  3. Thanks for sharing this. I can't wait to try it! Connie

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  4. I see one of these in my future!

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  5. I do a lot of trees and have been cutting the felt to a pattern, laying it on the CQ and then embroidering. I just did my first bird (a hummingbird) using your method and am now stitching it to my CQ. I love it. I will use this method on my trees also from now on. Thank you for your tutorial.

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  6. What a fantastic tutorial. I can't wait to give this a try.

    FlowerLady

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  7. Beautiful work! I cannot wait to try this.

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  8. Great idea Gerr! Now I can start my embroideries before the blocks arrive and work on them without worrying that my hoop will mess up the rest of the block. Would wool felt be okay to use? I have a lot of white/off white.

    Kristie Watson - CQImember

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  9. Thank you so much for sharing, Gerry!

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  10. Just breathtaking! You make it sound easy but I know it would take a lot of time and practice to come up with what you have here!

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  11. great tutorial love the birds you create thanks Gerry

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  12. Thank You Gerry, this is a great tutorial. The birds look as though they are stitched directly on the block....well in a way I guess they are.

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  13. Great tutorial Gerry! thanks so much for sharing!

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