When a beautiful little baby girl Lily was born a few months ago and her mom (my cousin) decorated her room all in birds I decided to make this quilted bird house with some bird rattle toys to go along with it as a baby gift.
I used scrap fabric and a few pieces of felt (an a lot of thread!) to sew the pieces. This is a combination of machine sewing, hand sewing and embroidery. I worked on it each night for about 2 ½ hours and it took me about 7 days.
You will need the following items to construct the birdhouse:
- Scrap pieces of patterned cotton fabric – if you are buying the fabric you will want no more than ¼ yard of each pattern.
- 4 or 5 sheets of felt
- 4 bundles of thread
- Scrap batting – if you are purchasing the batting you will need very little – about 1/3 yard to be safe.
- Sharp scissors
- Sewing needles
- Sewing machine – it could be done all by hand but would take longer to do.
- An embroidery book if you don’t know the stitches by heart.
- A pattern of pieces - My pattern is shown above. If you are following this pattern you will use the square pattern (6 x 6 inches) 3 times for 2 sides and 1 bottom piece and the pointed pattern (6 x 6 inch with a 2 inch high triangle on top) 2 times for the front and back pieces. You will see the roof pattern in step 10. It is 7 inches wide by 11 inches long.
- 4 bells – if you want the birds to be rattles when completed.
Step 1: Iron and Cut Fabric
Before you start cutting any fabric it’s a good idea to iron your pieces. You can do it after if you want but it does make cutting your fabric a little easier.
Turn one piece of fabric over to the backside. Using your pattern draw the squares that you will need to cut from the fabric. Cut out the squares. Repeat with remaining patterns.
Once all of your squares are cut arrange them how you want your panels to look. You will need two panels of nine squares each, and one panel of eight squares – leaving out the bottom middle square to account for the doorway of the bird house.
The back panel is solid so it won't need to be sewn.
**I show six patterns but only used five of them. Sometimes after arranging them you need to omit one or two.
Step 2: Sew Panels
Turn two pieces of fabric with the patterned sides facing each other. Using a sewing machine sew the pieces along one side leaving about a ¼ inch edge. Repeat with another square so you have three in a row. Repeat again so you will have three rows of three squares.
Now turn two rows of fabric with patterned sides facing each other. Using your sewing machine again sew the rows along one side leaving a ¼ inch edge. Repeat with the remaining row so you have a square panel of nine smaller squares.
Repeat entire step again with remaining squares for the other side panel and the front panel (minus the bottom middle square).
Cut an arch from the middle square of the front panel for the doorway of the bird house.
Once all pieces are sewn into panels iron them flat. This will make for easier sewing later.
Step 3: Embellish and Embroider
In this step you will need sewn panels, scrap felt, thread, needle and scissors.
Cut shapes of felt and arrange on one panel. Stitch the felt on the panel with thread. Embroider the fabric to make blades of grass and vines to connect the flower-like elements.
On my bird house I didn’t want to notice the thread so much on the cut out felt pieces so I chose thread to match the felt color. It can be done with a contrasting color of thread. (Design and arrange how ever you want!)
Repeat on each panel. I kept the back of the bird house one solid piece of patterned cotton. I chose not to embellish it since it is the back.
**When using embroidery thread you can thin it to give a more delicate look. I showed this in the second picture below. There are six small strands that make up one whole strand. I often thin it to three strands when stitching something small or tight.
**If you don't know embroidery stitches very well I highly recommend the book in picture three. It has fantastic illustrations on how to do great embroidery. It is also separated in levels of easy, moderate, and difficult.
Step 4: Sandwich the Layers
Using your pattern cut the top triangle for the front panel and the back piece.
Place the triangle piece on the top of the front panel and sew along the edge. This piece should be the same size as the back piece to keep things consistent.
Now choose a felt color that will be the inside of the bird house. Cut out squares according to your pattern to match each of the four sides of the bird house.
Cut out batting about ½ inch smaller on all sides than your felt pieces.
Place in a layer sandwich – felt, batting, sewn panel.
Using a piece of thread make a stitch in each of the square corners. For example, you will have four stitches on the two side panels and six on the front panel. I also put six random stitches on the back panel to keep it secure. Just eyeball where you think they should go. Doesn’t have to be exact.
Step 5: Edge the Bird House Doorway
Once the front panel is sandwiched and stitched cut the batting and felt along the doorway.
Using a whip stitch edge the doorway. I go around once and turn back and repeat to make sure there is a clear edge with no fabric showing. This makes it look a little cleaner.
Step 6: Sew Finished Panels Together
Turn two panels with the patterned sides facing each other. Pin together. (I have not pinned any of the pieces up until this point. I didn’t find it necessary, but you will want to use them in this step.) Using a sewing machine sew the pieces along one side leaving about a ¼ inch edge. The layers will make it thick but my sewing machine handled it fine.
Once your piece is sewn, unpin and repeat until you have all four pieces sewn together into a long line. Fold pieces onto each other and sew the last two edges together. Now you have the basic structure of the bird house – without a top or bottom.
Step 7: Cut and Sew the Bottom
Cut out two squares of felt, according to your pattern, and a piece of batting smaller than the felt leaving about a ½ inch edge on all sides.
Sandwich layers – felt, batting, felt
Make a few stitches in the felt to secure all pieces together
Match one edge of the bottom piece to one bottom edge of the bird house and pin with enough room to sew.
On the sewing machine sew the pieces together leaving a ¼ inch edge.
This part gets a little tricky to explain but you will need to repeat with each edge of the bottom to secure it to the bird house. You will have to fold the pieces and keep pinning and turning to sew all around.
You won't need to sew the doorway, but if you accidentally do, it won't be a problem. Don't get out the seam ripper!
If you want the inside to look more finished use a butcher stitch and edge all of the inside seams. This step is optional but gives a cleaner feel if you look inside the bird house.
Step 8: Edge the Front Step
Turn the bird house right side out and you can now see the finished bottom.
Using a whip stitch edge the front step. You may need to reach your hand inside the bird house to make it easier to stitch. Again, I started with one line of stitches and went back over it to cover any felt.
Step 9: Stitch Outside Seams
This step is optional. I wanted to edge the seams of the bird house to square it up a little but it is not necessary. I used a butcher stitch and stitched along all the outer seams.
Do your best to hide the knots at the end of the seam. I chose to stitch from bottom up so the roof would hide the knots once it's on.
Step 10: Cut and Sew on Roof
Now it's time to cut out the pieces for the roof and sew them on. This will be the most difficult part of the entire project.
From your pattern (I just eyed this piece) cut the first roof piece from felt. Using a whip stitch - stitch the first layer of roof on. Don't worry too much about how it looks at this point. It will be covered by the second layer of roof felt to finish it off anyway.
Place a scrap piece of batting on the top of the first layer of roof. Cut it just inside the stitched seams so it is slightly smaller than the roof piece. Stitch it in place so it won't shift or move.
From your second roof pattern (mine is 7 inches wide by 11 inches long) cut out second roof piece from felt. If you want to embroider on the roof do it before you stitch it on the bird house. I stitched a line down the center so I could add my 'v' stitches symmetrically.
When the 'v' stitching is done make a small fold on one end and straight stitch along the fold. Turn it around and repeat the straight stitch filling in the missing lines. Repeat on the other end.
Place the finished second roof piece over the batting and start stitching underneath where the roof hangs over the sides of the bird house. Loop with the first roof stitching as to not have a ton of extra stitches showing. You will end up with a tidy roof this way!
Congratulations! You have a finished bird house!
Step 11: Make the Baby Bird Rattles
Using a bird pattern cut out six pieces of felt to make the baby birds.
Using a wing pattern cut out three pieces of patterned fabric to make the bird wings.
On one piece of cut felt stitch on the wing with a whip stitch. Then make an eye with a french knot. Repeat with two more of the felt bird cut-outs.
Place a back layer on each of the birds and butcher stitch around the edges leaving a gap large enough to insert the batting and bell.
Making the birds rattle is optional. Just omit the bell if you want. Since I made this for a baby gift I found it suiting.
Roll a bell in a piece of batting and stuff the bird. Add more batting if you have empty space in the bird. Continue stitching the felt pieces until completely enclosed. Tie end of thread with a knot somewhere inconspicuous.
Repeat with remaining birds.
Step 12: Make the Momma Bird
Using the same steps as the baby bird, make the momma bird reversing the felt and patterned fabrics as to make the momma bird opposite from the baby birds.
Now you will have four bird rattles.
Put the birds in the bird house and give as a unique and handmade baby gift!