Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Bird Pincushion Tutorial

We are in the midst of a bitter cold snap and I felt the need to warm my soul by creating this new pincushion. The sweet little bird reminds me that Spring is just around the corner.
On a recent trip to one of my favorite antique shops - 'Log Cabin Antiques' - I spotted this silverplate gravy boat and knew it would make a great base for a pinkeep. I couldn't resist that lovely, tarnished patina.
You must first decide on a fabric for the bird. I chose a soft brushed cotton/flannel. Wool would work nicely as well. There are many different sewing patterns for birds. I found one on  'Lavender's Blue' site and modified it by printing off their pattern and reducing it on my printer. If your printer does not have this option, any copy store should be able to do this for you.
A 62 percent reduction worked out to be the correct proportions for my base unit (the gravy boat). You may need to increase or decrease this depending on the size of your base unit. My completed bird measures approximately 4 1/4" wide by 2 1/2" high. 

I wanted larger wings for my bird, so I drew a simple pattern for a larger, curved wing.  You will need to cut 4 wings from fabric and 2 from a lightweight cotton batting. The batting is used to give the wings more stability. Place the cotton batting in between the brushed cotton wing pieces and hand stitch around the 'wing sandwich' with a blanket stitch. Using a blind stitch, sew the completed wings to the body leaving the back half of the wings unattached. 
For the beak, cut yellow wool in a long diamond shape. Fold this in half and hand stitch on the fold line to the body. In keeping with the 'art of making do', I used small pearls (that I had on hand) for the eyes.  I simply colored them with a black permanent marker. Other options would be small beads or french knots. Attach the eyes with a strong thread (such as quilting thread) and pull the thread tightly to draw in the eyes slightly and give more definition to the face.
You need to choose a fabric for the pincushion. I chose linen for mine. Make the cushion by cutting a circle of fabric twice the diameter of the opening of your base (my base is the gravy boat).  Sew a running stitch around the outer edge of the circle and pull the thread tails to gather the fabric into a pouch. Fill the gathered opening tightly with polyester stuffing.  Pull the thread tails tightly to close the opening and then stitch the opening closed.
Turn the cushion right side up and place inside the base.  The cushion should have a nice snug fit in the bowl with no puckers or pleats along the sides.
Add some subtle details to the cushion with vintage buttons and corsage pins.
Sew a necklace using vintage lace and adorn with a tiny rosette, buttons, pearls and silk ribbon.
The pouring spout of the gravy boat needed to be filled. A linen rosette worked out to be the perfect solution. If you are unsure how to make a rosette, 'Freckled Laundry' has a nice video tutorial on how to make fabric rosettes.
Cut some leaves from wool and tuck them under the rosette for a finishing touch. Use a few spots of hot glue to anchor the pieces to the base. Now, enjoy your completed pincushion!

I hope that you find this tutorial helpful and would love to know if it inspires you to make one of your own.
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  1. Thanks for the wonderful tutorial!The pin keep is beautiful!Hugs,Jen

  2. Oh my goodness, how adorable!


  3. Hi Suzanne.
    What a beautiful antique gravy boat and beautiful tutorial of your pincusion!!! The bird is such a lovely spring sign :-) thank you for the how to and have a great day!

  4. Your little bird pin cushion is so cute! Thank you for the wonderful visual tutorial ... (beautiful photographs)
    xo Geneva

  5. You are so clever Suzanne. I love this little bird cushion.

  6. Just wonderful! Thanks for mentioning my store too! I am always amazed by your creativity!

  7. Suzanne, your pin cushion is so sweet. such a great idea to use the gravy boat.

  8. Cute and very creative! I love the way some people see things and then see a way to repurpose them!
    Visiting through Fluster Buster.

  9. Stopping by to let you know I am featuring you tomorrow on Made in a Day! Thanks for linking up!

  10. Suzanne,
    This is a splendid idea!
    Inspired, you asked???
    I'm going shopping in search of a tarnished gravy boat, first thing tomorrow!!!
    Wish me luck!!!

  11. oh trop joli j'adore
    bravo j'ai envie de le faire


I love reading each and every comment and welcome any questions or feedback you may have.

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