Birds on a string

Not real ones! Mum bought me, as a Christmas present, Carolyn Forster’s ‘Little Quilts and Gifts from Jelly Roll Scraps’, along with a pack of batik jelly rolls in greens and blues. So I thought it would be nice to make something from it for Mum for her birthday, and I liked this decoration, like ones you see in a gift shop, with three stylised birds. Not that I suppose she has a great need for birds on a string, but never mind!

The book has pages of templates for the patterns, thought for some, including the body for the bird, the templates are reproduced at 50%, but I found my village shop has a photocopier so that was okay. (Took me about half a dozen attempts to position it correctly, but we won’t go there).

The pattern calls for a certain length of three jelly roll strips to be sewn together, using the usual quarter inch seam, then the body template drawn and sewn round on the back of the fabric, with a gap at the bottom for stuffing later.IMGP1875 outline

I’m not that handy with a sewing machine but surprisingly only had a couple of re-does.

Then it was cut out about 1/4 inch from the lines, turned inside out and stuffed, the hole then whip-stitched closed. The seam of one came open because I stuffed it too hard, so that had to be re-done.

before stuffing

I did enjoy choosing the fabric, all of which came from my stash – the dark blue from the batiks Mum gave me, the rest just fat quarters I fancied! I think all the ones from my stash are Makower. I was particularly chuffed with the fabric with little birds making up a bigger bird.

The wings are created from another template, but are sort-of quilted, not stuffed. The two pieces are placed front-outwards either side of a piece of wadding, then the template sewn round and the end result cut round with pink shears. I think I cut mine too close to the sewing line, if there was a next time I wouldn’t do that.


This fabric came from the short-sleeved top I sewed last year (or was it the year before?), I only used it once, on the wings of one bird, but I had to feel like I was making a stab at using leftovers!

The wings were attached by sewing a button on and then using a doll needle to go right through the body of the bird. I had great fun choosing the buttons, though the ones with cherry blossom style tree branches on probably cost more than the rest of it put together (slight exaggeration)!

The hardest bit was pushing the cord through. Choosing the right width of cord and beads online was tricky, the cord didn’t go through the eye of the doll needle so I had to use a tapestry needle, get it just through, and then my husband got the point with pliers and yanked. My heart in my mouth in case it ripped a huge hole in the whole thing. I’ve since bought a mattress needle, which may do the trick were I to make any more, but I don’t know. Also angling the direction the cord went through so they hung more or less horizontally was a learning curve, the first time I did it I pushed through vertically, but of course the head is heavier so it pointed steeply forwards, so that I had to be taken out.

I’m pleased with the end result, it was a good project for part of the week’s holiday I had, and most importantly, Mum claims to like them!

bird string 1bird string 2

I only hung them by the window to get enough light for a photo, or they’d fade, and I know they aren’t at the window in their new home.

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