Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Crow

Maybe you remember the birds I made a few years ago? I started making little stuffed birds, then I tried some more stylized birds using paper and/or fabric fused to a stiff backing and hand-sewed. I have had an idea of trying to design a crow, using the second technique, and I finally started working on it last week, and finished the prototype yesterday. Here he is.

I started with a flat drawing, working from crow photos found online as my reference. I pulled out one of my earlier, unfinished birds to refresh my memory of how I had used contour lines to start building components. 

Using those preliminary pieces I started giving the body dimension by slashing and spreading the pieces and then using bits of blue masking tape to fit the pieces together to create a three dimensional model. 

The masking tape is easy to remove and reuse as the pieces need adjustments. Little by little the paper model takes shape. 

When it finally looks right I carefully remove the blue tape and trace each pattern piece onto heavier paper. I keep a stack of old file folders for patterns—just the right weight. Then I trace the pattern pieces onto my fabric, which I have fused to a stiff backing. Here are all the pieces (except the wings), cut out and ready to assemble.

I sewed the pieces together, using a decorative joining stitch, by hand.

I need to work out a better stitch for this step, as this one allows the pieces to gap and move, so I had to add some hidden whip stitches on the onside. It was a lot of difficult stitching. 

In this photo you can see the legs and feet, made from wire, wrapped with florist tape. 

This is my prototype, from whom I have learned what worked well and what didn't. I'm looking forward to making another one. I have some changes in mind. Thinking the beak might need to be a separate piece from a different (shiny?) fabric. 


  1. I love this as much as the stuffed fabric birds.

  2. You are amazing.

  3. Anonymous5:46 AM

    It amazes me how you can start from flat shapes, make them 3-dimensional, sew them together, fashion metal legs and feet, and then put all the pieces together with balance to stand. Beautiful!!! Are you sure you aren't an architect??? (smile)

  4. OMG What an amazing crow. Now that you have done most of the "heavy lifting" will you be selling the pattern for those of us wanting a crow of our own?

    I had wanted to make one of the smaller birds but never quite managed to find the time. Where does time go? I know I waste a good bit of it here on the internet looking for things to read but that does not explain the lost parts of the day (when not at work)
    Instead of de cluttering my house--I might be better served decluttering my TIME.

  5. Very life-like outside. A shiny beak sounds like a good idea. Love the claws.
    Sandy in the UK

  6. Wow! So, so cool! I love the feet. I think you should find, or make up, some lore about why everyone should have a crow perched somewhere in the house and then sell them to us! :)

  7. Your original little birds are what caused me to find and start following your blog. It's been a lovely ride ;-)

  8. Your birds are always a favorite. This is moving to the top of the list.

  9. Anonymous9:29 AM

    Would love to try this in needlepoint...are you going to publish the pattern?

  10. I love your birds, could I buy the pattern, I use birds in most of my quilts

  11. I use birds in most of my quilts, could I buy your crow pattern?

  12. Anonymous10:36 AM

    Would love to see shiny contrast.

  13. LOVE him! Wouldn't he be fabulous atop a pumpkin at Halloween? I, too, would buy the pattern. :-)

  14. Love the crow! I made one for my Aunt a couple of years ago based on your article with adjustments. I used heavy wool felt from an old coat and liked the way the felt worked much better than cotton fabric. It also hides the stitching better. Now I think a Puffin would be fun to make. Thanks for always inspiring me!

  15. Beautiful...especially the legs...they look real!

  16. Anonymous11:33 PM

    I can almost believe that he'll soon just fly away. Lovely!

  17. Anonymous1:13 PM

    Your little birds lead me to you too. I've enjoyed all your adventures and am in love with this crow.

  18. The step-by-step photos and text are wonderful. The attitude of the finished bird is just right. And I agree with others that your blog is awesome. You always give us a window into your processes and inspiration.
    Craft felt fused between the layers creates body with stitchability. Would it work for the crow?
    You could make the beak shiny with gloss medium. The texture or pattern of the cloth would remain visible.

  19. Love, love, love these - may I reblog the bird posts, borrowing some pix?

    The work of Susan O'Byrne - ceramic birds and animals - might interest you -

  20. Anonymous8:33 PM

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  21. Hermoso! Qué maravilla! Bello arte. Tengo que intentarlo. Saludos.