Category Archives: Spool Sewing

Scooby Doo and Scrappy too! Scrap Bird Tutorial

Oh, my, look at this, my very first tutorial! But it’s only fair, really, I have been following other people’s tutorials since I started sewing, scouring the interwebs for information on bound buttonholes, dyeing fabric, zipper application, slipstitching, and bias tape making, just to name a scant few, so I suppose it’s only right that I put something out there myself. I’m sorry if it’s in some way vague, please email me in you don’t understand something or need help! Or comment! Or send up a smoke signal! Whatever you do, I’ll get the message!

So I was asked by a very nice reader to give you a tutorial for the little fabric birds I made for the Nichole Canuso Dance Company Benefit┬áCabaret. I need to start this by saying a few things. One, this pattern was created for Spool Sewing by Michael Fulkerson. Two, this pattern is NOT she repeated NOT for commercial use. You can’t sell these, or sell the pattern, or sell a pattern that is clearly this pattern but you pretend you made it yourself (you hear me, Etsy? Also, side note, I love love love Etsy, but I also LOVE Regretsy. Check it out.) You can put photos of this little guy where you like, but please note that this pattern was created exclusively for Spool by Michael Fulkerson, it’s not mine, I didn’t make it, I’m just giving you some instructions and hints on how to make his design come alive. The pattern itself can be found here. There are instructions that come with the pattern, but I’m also going to go step by step to give you a tutorial because I think that can be often so much more helpful then written instructions. Right?

I love these birds, by the way. I’ve made a bunch of them, and I think they are an excellent use of scraps, and I mean little scraps, because they use a very small amount of fabric. I’ve been using cotton batting as a stuffer, which I hijacked from an old bed pillow I found that was worn out and unusable in it’s current form. Also, if you have cats and some dried catnip you can throw some of that in with the batting, they go nuts for it. I feel like if you have dogs they might also like these as toys, but you might not want to see your work completely destroyed by feline or canine teeth on either end, so you have my permission to keep these all to yourself, if you like. The reason I think this project is so fun is that it only takes an hour, tops, and sometimes you just need that, you need small easily accomplished projects that allow you to start and finish in one sitting. Especially if you are in midst of a difficult and time consuming project that makes you want to tear out your hair. These can really restore your faith in sewing, I have to say.

What you will need:

Fabric scraps, enough for the top and bottom of the bird. For the bottom you will need a scrap that is about 3″ wide by 7″ long, and for the top you will need a scrap that is about 3″wide by 9″ long.I have lots of scraps, because I can’t bear to waste things:


Cotton batting

buttons for eyes (optional)

1. Pick your fabric scraps with care. I personally have gotten into the habit the last 20 or so times I’ve made these birds (I make….a lot of birds) of making the top part of the bird in a printed fabric and the smaller bottom half of the bird in a solid color. However, I do think it can look great with prints on both sides, I’m just rather boring, I guess. So most of mine look like this:

And not like this:

Please excuse the cat hair , Tiny Tiger and Mr. Malevolent love them some birds....

But all things are acceptable here in fabric bird land! Go nuts! Do what works for you!

So you have your scraps. I am using a piece of scrap from that huge box of fabric I got from my grandfather’s attic and another piece left from a dress I made from a sheet I dyed. I will be showing the dress off to you soon, I promise.

And you have the pattern. Cut out the bird body diagrams on the pattern, and pin them to your scraps:

And then cut out the two pieces of the bird body:

Now, you are going to pin the two pieces, right sides together. Position the smaller piece right at the tail edge of the larger piece:

And start by pinning up one side. Only pin to where the end of the smaller piece meets the neck of the bird. This is marked on the pattern piece, but just to show you on another cut out:

So it looks like this:

And then pin the other side up, and the head:

Now we can start to sew! Start at one side of the bottom of the bird, and sew to the neck:

Use a 1/4" seam allowance.

And then sew up the other side, the finished product will look like this:

Then sew up the head. Once you’ve sewn it, clip around the beak so that when you turn it it forms a nice point:

Then turn the bird. I use a pencil or pen to help me, just be careful not to pierce anything in your enthusiasm.

Then stuff your new little friend. Just stuff the body, leaving the tail flat. You can, of course, stuff the tail, if you like, but it makes it harder to sew shut, so I usually don’t.

Then, enclose the unfinished seams at the tail, folding them inside and securing them with a pin. Sew along the end of the tail, I like to do a zig zag stitch, but straight across is fine. Of course, you could always slip stitch it closed as well, if you are a perfectionist, it’s up to you, but I tend to favor expediency over perfection….

And you can put buttons on for eyes, if you like:

Or not. And there you have it! A new little bird made from scraps. A friend for you, or if you have little ones for your little ones:

Or for your furry friends:

Tiny tiger loves his new avian companion.

And there you have it! My first ever tutorial using Spool Sewing’s amazing pattern created by Michael Fulkerson. I hope you enjoyed it! Just so you know, I took 88 photos and gave you 17, which makes me the Lee Friedlander of sewing tutorials. I’m okay with that. I hope you enjoy!


Filed under Fabric, Sewing, Spool Sewing, Tutorial