Sunday, February 19, 2012

Half-term week - Applique Birds

So the only piece of homework remaining this week was an Applique piece. The brief set was that we could chose any design but it must incorporate applique with a turned edge, decorated edge, raw edge and a padded applique with a corded edge. I was mulling over what design to go for last week when completing my calico manipulated fabric sampler and got inspiration from looking out at all the birds on the feeders in the garden. I then spotted a craft paper design of birds in silouhette sitting in rows on a wire and thought something like that was interesting. I drew a design out in full size on paper to check it would work.

So I started with the background. I wanted a stylised cloud effect so I stippled acrylic paint on over a paper template. When it was dry and I considered it in the daylight I didn't like the colour very much so I brushed over it with blue Brusho. I couldn't risk adding any more acrylic else it might be too thick and stiff to sew into. Once it was dry I sewed a satin stitch band across for the wire that the birds will sit on using my machine.

Next I considered the fabric for the birds. I thought that just using plain black wasn't very interesting and might show up imperfections in my technique too easily! I didn't have a range of black and white print fabrics so I decided to create some. I used found objects to print white emulsion paint onto black polycotton sheeting. From top left I used a cut cardboard comb, a metal hook, a felt-tip pen top and a piece of penne pasta with an extra line added with a cocktail stick. I was really pleased with how these turned out.

I then took my paper design and cut out the bird shapes to use as a pattern to cut the fabric.
I started with the frayed edge bird. I had designed this with wings open as if about to land so that the frayed edges would look like feather tips. I cut out the bird using the paper pattern and sewed it on with free-machine stitching. I did this in black first of all as I hadn't got the orange accents in my mind initially. After I had done the other 3 birds it was obvious that this stitching should be in orange so I went over the wings and tail again. The machine didn't really like sewing into the painted part of the background but I managed to complete it.

Next I moved onto the padded bird. I cut the paper shape out of felt first and bonded it to the fabric with Bondaweb. I could then cut out the fabric leaving a margin all the way round to turn it under. In a library book I discovered that you can add extra layers of felt in smaller versions of the shape to the centre to make it more domed so I did this to see what the effect would be. I added a medium sized and small sized felt shape just to the body part, which was tacked down to the background before tacking on the padded bird. Then I hand-stitched the bird down using ladder stitch. The points of the beak and tail are extremely difficult to turn under and do neatly so I ended up trimming the excess off and relying on the fact that the Bondaweb would stop it fraying. Then I added its legs using a couple of straight stitches in embroidery floss before selecting a bright orange cord to couch down all the way around. The ends of the cord have to be threaded through to the back and sewn down at the start and end, which I did in the tail so that it wouldn't show. Finally I added a flower sequin and black bead for the eye to echo the print on the fabric.

Next I moved onto the bird with the turned under edge on the right. I cut out lightweight interfacing using the paper pattern and bonded it to the fabric with Bondaweb. In order to ensure I got the pattern running at the right angle I used a light box to line it up! I could then cut out the fabric with a margin all the way around. I snipped the edge so that I could turn the fabric in and tacked it first before sewing it down on the background. I struggled with the points again and in the end cut off the margin on the tail because it got too messy. I added legs as before and then used orange beads to accent the wing, beak and eye.

Finally I tackled the decorated edge bird. I backed it with interfacing as before but didn't leave any margin for turning as I could rely on the Bondaweb to stop it fraying. The print suggested a chain stitch so I went for that in a rather slippery orange cord. This bird was probably the easiest to do or maybe I had got my eye in by now. I finished it with a felt and bead eye.
I am very pleased with the final composition. It is just pinned onto a piece of thick cardboard as I am not sure of the correct technique to mount it properly and this doesn't appear in any of my library books so I will have to find out at college.


  1. This is beautiful. I love your different shaped birds, and the touches of orange really lift it! Well done, you.

  2. Thanks for the comment - it is still not mounted but I have bought the stuff to do it now. Will need to get it done by my end of course show on July 5th.