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little birds : a sewing pattern

The little bird sewing pattern is finally here! My goodness- it was an epic effort – this first pattern. I hope you enjoy it! You can purchase it here.

little birds : a sewing pattern

Little Birds includes a link to the  free video tutorial  “how to make a perfect bird leg” – useful with this pattern and for all your bird leg needs as well as a link to a video on sewing the bird body that you will receive within the PDF when you purchase the pattern. I hope you make birds! If you do I’d love to see – you can post photos here if you like. And if you’d like to be notified when more patterns are available (there is a ship on the horizon…..) you can sign up here.

how to make a perfect bird leg

I keep adding things to the bird pattern. Last week I decided it needs videos so last weekend I shot how to sew the body, ( it’s the trickiest part) you’ll get a link to that with the pattern download. And today I shot “how to make a perfect bird leg”.

mason

It’s one of the things I’m most often asked about, the little bird legs, so I thought I would share that now as a gift. It’s my first ever video! It should be below  - if not click here.

How to Make a Perfect Bird Leg

*measurements are approximate for a bigger foot use more wire and create a bigger loop

* and one correction – if you find the 18 gauge wire to difficult use a HIGHER gauge wire – I incorrectly said lower gauge

tools and materials list:

18 or 19 gauge steel wire (hillman is my favorite brand)
floral tape (flora is my favorite brand)
needle nose pliers
wire cutter
hammer
hard surface

I hope you make bird legs! And stay tuned for the little bird pattern – it’s almost there. If you’d like email updates about new patterns and workshops etc. you can subscribe here.  Be sure to check the “make something” box on the signup form.

 

a history of birds

*This is a long post and there are a lot of birds in it.

I’ve been working on a pattern for my little birds and as I’m reaching the end of that long process of drafting and adjusting the pattern, shooting the steps, writing the instructions, testing the pattern, compiling the files and materials and resource lists etc., etc. I’ve been thinking a lot about my long history with these funny little fabric birds. Releasing this pattern feels like a big step in that history and involves some letting go.

bird work

The things I make are a large part of my identity and that is maybe even a little more true of these earnest little  birds. They came about sort of accidentally – it’s funny how one thing leads to another and strange things you could not invent occur.

How I came to Make Thousands and Thousands of Little Fabric Birds

 In the fall 2005 I happened into a ruined Edwardian gown. I wish I had a photo. It was in pieces and all of it too delicate and  too fragile to even display.  At the same time I was designing a holiday window for a shop on Orchard Street. The gown was shimmery and twinkly and I wanted to incorporate it. The featheriness of the fraying fabric suggested birds and I began to experiment with sewing a bird shape. I counted – I made 60 failures before I came to a shape that sort of worked. The first birds were fancy: miss haversham on the left and bertha whimsy emerson on the right.

fancy birds

I hadn’t intended to sell them but people wanted to buy them so I did and then I made more.

more birds

And more. And more.

grooms

I also photographed them. They went to summer camp,

campers

put on plays,

red_ridinghood

Continue reading “a history of birds” »

what’s left

When I’m making ships I spend a lot of time with a big box of pale ruined dresses and parts of dresses, edwardian mostly,  and each time I go through it I pull out little bits to save – things too fragile to use but too precious to part with or things I find so interesting as they are I don’t want to change them.

dress parts

A  tattered bit of  very old silk lace with tiny bright green beads attached to each point – it was a cuff – it must have been a magnificent garment.

green beads

I finished 2 more ships today and photographed them – one similar to The Louisa May and another paper mache.

ship, dream

dream_2

This style of ship is also one of the patterns I’ll be publishing and I spent some time breaking down the steps today.  I would also  love to teach a paper mache ship  class in person – it’s such a satisfying project to make.

PS – all the new ships will be available in the shop tomorrow (6/5).

paper mache ships

tinker

An owl at sea

sailing bird

Sailing bird

the anastasia

And The Anastasia

new ships

I got up extra early this morning to begin  photographing more new ships. This time of year the nicest light happens between 6:30 and 7 am. I’ll do the same again tomorrow – the ships are tricky to photograph – they need lots of light and are almost constantly in motion – lots of waiting around for stillness.

ann wood ships

ann wood ships

You might notice that I’ve rearranged my place. I have stuck with  pretty much the same arrangement in every apartment I’ve lived in. I tried changing it a couple years ago with unhappy results – nothing about it worked – I couldn’t concentrate and it just felt wrong. I got inspired to try again a  few weeks ago and I’m very happy with it.  From a purely practical perspective I have light where I need it and it makes sense with the electrical outlets.  It feels more open and spacious and new and the plants seem to like it. The sewing machine is next to the largest window now – it’s a huge improvement. Sometime when I’m being tidier I’ll show you the whole thing – right now I’m kind of a disaster in that department.

ann wood studio

I’ll post some more ship photos in the afternoon tomorrow ( they will all be in my shop on thursday 6/5).

 

a better wobbler

I’m working on a re- design of my merry wobblers.  It’s one of the patterns I’ll be publishing for the making something project.  In their original incarnation they were tricky to make – unnecessarily tricky I think.

wobbler work

So I’m simplifying and perfecting and adjusting – again and again and again. I’ve made wobblers that don’t wobble, misshapen potato like wobblers, tiny headed wobblers, wobblers that burst and wobblers that didn’t look merry at all.

wobblers

The most successful one so far has been the little guy on the lower left above. I’m adjusting a little more this morning and testing a few more times to make sure the result is consistent and hopefully tonight wobbler will be achieved.

wobbler

Regarding the patterns I’m working on- I have a  question for those of you who sew:

Do you prefer  to have the seam allowance added for you on a pattern or to add your own?

 

the louisa may

The Louisa May – she’s made mostly from edwardian gowns and petticoats – sheer, thin, whispery things sewn over millinery wire. the louisa may

louisa_may

louisa_may_2

ship work and a dark bird

Spring really fires me up and I’m having a super busy and super productive month. Besides all the air and freshness the extra daylight in the evening makes such a difference.

lilacs

I find I  work best early in the morning to mid afternoon and then I usually get a significant creative second wind between 5 and 8 PM – how about you? Other people’s creative practices are always interesting to me.
A couple progress photos for you:

dark bird
sails

A  dark, crow-ish sort of bird and and sails for several new ships. I’ve been saving that antique embroidered cuff on the lower right  for 6 years- waiting for just the right ship. I’m finishing the first full sized, multi sailed extravaganza sort of ship that I’ve made in a long time tonight and I’m excited to photograph it  tomorrow – excited enough to get up extra early.

the forest and squam art retreat

I sure do like to make something and then wonder around the forest looking for  a perfect spot to photograph it.  It’s an intersection I’ve always been attracted to. I finished this indigo fellow in the Adirondack Park over the weekend with a particular mossy stump in mind for his photo.

indigo owl

mushrooms

I also worked on my toadstool pattern and technique  - that is one of the shapes I’ll be teaching at Squam in the fall ( there are just a couple spaces left in the class – you can register here).  There are so many things I want to share in that class – so many possibilities.  I’m also excited that there is a free afternoon built into the schedule –  the forest at Squam is spectacular and it would be such fun to photograph what we create.

seed pod

I’m building lessons around shapes and techniques that can be used as jumping off points – like the toadstool shape, a  seed pod shape, a very particular way to create stems, root systems,  textures etc.

botanical_and_spider

I’d love to see you there – if you have questions I’m happy to answer – just send me an email.

P.S. – if you can’t attend the retreat but you’re near by or don’t mind traveling to New Hampshire – come say hello at the art fair ! I am already deep in preparations for that – It’s going to be an adventure.