Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Just a Little Chickadee

A few of my friends have expressed an interest in a detailed tutorial on stitching Birds.
I've been commission to do a Blue Jay and will start that soon, but as I have all the materials for the series of Chickadees I'm making, for my up coming workshop, I paused and took a few extra photos this morning to show the steps in greater detail. Short of a video (which for now is beyond my abilities with the Internet), here's a step by step photo essay.

As I'm hooping these birds, I'm able to use a really lightweight material. Tearing is the only issue here. If that happens to you, then a double layer or heavier non woven stabilizer will help solve that issue.

All these little guys were traced from sized Internet photos. As I was doing a number of them, the spacing was based on the size of the sketches, as well as the size of my hoop. This example is on an incomplete piece of stabilizer. I don't recommend that for your first attempt. You want all the edges to be firmly anchored.

Each sketch was roughly filled with their appropriate colour. I used Seta colour pens but any fine tipped pens should do the trick. Even colour pencils or crayon (ironed to remove the wax) will work. The idea is to guide you, as well as provide some back colour to help conceal holes in the stitching.

You might have noticed the masking ( painter's ) tape on the hoop. This helps control the fabric from slipping as its worked under the needle.

I started with the white. The use of short or long stitches depends on your speed comfort and the type of thread.  Embroidery thread in short stitches really negates its use. The gloss and colour shows best with longer stitches. However then you have to be more careful with the stabilzer/hooping as long stitches tend to distort the material more.
For that reason, I discourage my workshop participants from using embroidery thread this time around. Regular thread and quilting thread are perfectly serviceable. In fact the thicker threads fill faster. All but the grey threads here, were quilting thread.

As I intended to blend 2 more colours on the belly of this guy, I finished the colour division edge in a very irregular line.

The next colour a buff and the third a beige give a shadow and dimension.

The grey feathers were done with a dual purpose thread, primarily because they were the colours I wanted.

There are two colours here, one as a filler and the darker one to outline. I did a few with black and for the most part they are okay, but I thought they might seem a tad heavy for some.

The black for the head and throat is the finish for this guy.
Adding legs and feet is best done when the bird is in situ, on the background.
I've anchored birds in a couple of manners. A blind hem stitch with an invisible mono filament works very well, but if you want a ruffled feather appearance, using a free motion stitch with the appropriate colour puts it INTO the background rather than on top.

Getting those sharp points on the feathers and the beak can only be done on the background.

So I hope this encourages some of you to try your hand.
Its lots of fun!