Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Something about the holidays says to me "homemade" and calls for "handmade" things. Except for the unbelievable time crush, this meshes perfectly with my personality. This year, I really wanted to find something nice to make, so I spent some time searching the internet for projects. While I didn't find anything that really excited me, I saw some pictures which I adapted into this years' project. (Spoiler alert to family members who have not received theirs yet: photos included below!)

As you'll see below, I made cardinal Christmas ornaments. This project was perfect for me for several reasons. First, I like to sew; second, the year before last I taught myself a number of embroidery stitches which I have yet to use; and I love to try new things (in this case, beading and use of sequins.)

The first photo is a look at the contents of my "bag" laid out for use. I sketched the main pattern on yellow paper (one with tail up, one lower) while the white paper is the wing pattern.

The rest of the ingredients are red felt, embroidery floss, a fabric marker for tracing, pillow stuffing, ribbon for hanging, and beads, sequins and metallic thread. If using beads, don't forget beading needles, which are much thinner than regular ones (I normally use #9 or 10 for sewing and the beads do not fit over them).

After tracing the pattern onto the felt, I sketched some seasonal designs, such as holly leaves, stars and snowflakes and then embroidered/sewed them on what would be the front of the ornaments. The upper bird has holly leaves with sequin "berries." The lower cardinal is a design of beaded stars of yellow/gold glass beads.
I found that decorating them first, before cutting the precise design worked better, as you have more fabric to work with and do not ruin the sharp edge of the bird as cut out. As you see above, the next step is to cut an identical piece of red felt for the back of the cardinal. Below, I went for a more "flashy" look by tracing a wing pattern onto the bird, outlining it in a chain stitch in blue, then sewing on blue, silver and gold sequins. Next are two more, one with a green edged wing with green, silver and pink sequins, and the other is snowflakes embroidered with silver floss and two strands of gold metallic thread (I changed this to one strand on subsequent snowflakes because that much thread is difficult to work with).
Finally, I wanted to do more actual embroidery, so below are blue flowers highlighted with the yellow/gold beads. After embroidering the front, I sewed the plain back on using a blanket stitch. This is a really simple stitch which gives a decorative, squared-off edge. Before beginning, I determined where the ribbon for hanging would be by sticking a needle at the edge of the felt, near the center of the back and let it balance (head to tail). If it tilts too far forward, move the hanger forward and vise versa. While sewing the back, just add a few extra stitches to hold the ribbon on for hanging. I stuffed each bird as I attached the back, making sure the head and tail were adequately stuffed. Here's a photo with several of my Christmas cardinals, all but one finished. I am happy with how they turned out; hope everyone likes them!


  1. Those are adorable! Happy New Year to you and your family.

  2. Those are beautiful! I love the photos showing the progress from start to finish.

    I'd be really surprised if a family member didn't like them and then I'd wonder what was wrong with them.


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