Monday, 29 April 2013

Felt birdy decorations

One of my friends has just had a lovely baby boy. Having never made anything for a newborn before I thought it was time for a challenge.

Problem 1: It has to be safe. I clearly do not want to be responsible for anything nasty.
Problem 2: It has to be wipe clean or washable.

I settled on a playmat/ blanket as something that would be handy, potentially save the carpet from baby glurp/food/poo, but also colourful and fun as well.

I started with a patchwork of grey fabric from an old skirt and some blue and white striped fabric from those wedding cushions. As you can see the patchwork skills have improved somewhat. I've actually read the book I was given...I'm not ready to talk about how to patchwork successfully yet because I don't feel successful yet! I do have an idea brewing though.....

The whole thing was tasteful but somewhat drab. Decoration time! I wanted to do cheerful birds but wasn't quite sure how. Embroidering them would take ages and be totally impractical against the aforementioned baby glurp/food/poo. Felt would be perfect and look great but isn't machine washable. Making birds from fabric scraps would drive me mad trying to get a neat edge on all of them.

I did a google looking for inspiration and stumbled across this Folksy shop. The Felted Rainbow:


I had no idea it existed. Problem solved. A few clicks later and a small bundle of brightly coloured felt was on its way.

In the meantime I had to come up with some bird shapes. Drawing  is not my number one skill. However with a bit of faffing with some google images, tracing and making it up as I went along I came up with a few shapes that I thought would pass. I was hardly going for realistic birds anyway. (Feel free to use them!)
Top Tip: Scanning them meant that I could play about with sizes to fit the squares.

Having cut out the templates it's time to pin them to the felt and start cutting.

Top Tip: It is very tempting to cut more than one layer of fabric at a time to save time. I find it rarely saves time as one of the layers invariably ends up a bit skew-whiff however well I've pinned it. Instead I do this boring bit in front of a good programme on TV.(Blackadder - now free on Netflix. Hooray!)

Felt shapes cut, laying them out is the fun part. A bit of tweaking this I actually mean a half hour absurdly serious discussion with my Matey over dinner....and I was ready to pin the birds to the blanket.

Machine stitching the felt to the blanket as closely to the edge of the felt as possible is easy but time consuming. You don't want to go too fast as the fabric will need constant moving to fit the shape of the felt. This is where my ancient hand turn machine is amazing as I can do one stitch at a time if needed.  At the end of the seam go over the start of the stitching for about a centimetre to secure it really safely from investigating little fingers and snip the ends of the threads:

At this stage the birds look more like ghosts and tadpoles. Wings are what they need. Smaller versions of the same shapes as the birds pinned and sewed on in exactly the same way. I decided to go slightly clashing colours as I felt that the grey and blue background would balance them out nicely and the whole effect wouldn't be too gaudy.

Just a bit of detail lacking. Using some embroidery thread I stitched on some beaks, legs and eyes.
Nothing fancy, just a basic in and out stitch and randomly placed appendages. I wanted it to have a simple look and for each bird to have a different personality.

The eyes are three stitches one way and three stitches the other way back over the first three. This makes for a mini pad of thread so the eye sticks out a bit.

The beak is even easier. Three stitches for the top and three for the bottom and all tied off very, very securely at the back. I put at least four knots and a few stitches just in case.

You can draw the features on in advance with tailors chalk but I like to place them randomly.

The legs are now a doddle. Four stitches down and three to the left and another three just above to make feet:

So there we go. Dead easy washable felt embroidered birdies, perfect for cheering up just about anything.

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