I know that so many of you would love to make your own keepsake but you’re too scared to cut up your beloved clothes and get it wrong!
With this in mind I have designed a Make-It-Yourself Heirloom Sewing Kit.
Follow the steps below to make your gorgeous and completely unique Christmas heirloom. I can also recommend that you join my Memory Zoo Sewing Community over on Facebook. I do frequent LIVES on both Facebook and Periscope where you can ask any questions that you have about creating your wonderful heirloom.
Open up your box and oooh in excitement at the contents! Be very careful when opening the envelopes as they contains pins and needles (sharp!); and the beak and eyes. The eyes are teeny tiny and can go astray quite easily. I have given you 4 eyes so if you lose one or two it’s not the end of the world. You’ll find the very special iron on pattern for the bird body and the wings. Pop those to one side for the moment. You’ll also find the stuffing safely under the tissue paper.
In your box you should find:
- Bird body pattern (2 outlines facing in different directions)
- Bird wings (2 pairs on wings – 4 outlines)
- 2 x buttons
- 4 x eyes
- Loop for hanging
Please check the you have all of these things in the box – if you don’t then please contact me and I will replace it immediately!
Find yourself an item that you want to cut up and turn into your heirloom. Try and imagine how your finished item will look with wings the colour the you are planning on, and a body made of the fabric that you like. If you’re not sure about the combination then please do feel to post a picture on the FB group and ask the community what they think. The most important thing to remember is:
Choose the fabric that is special to you! That’s the most important thing by far.
A lot of people like to use baby grows from when their children were really little as they grow out of them so quickly. Stretchy fabric is fine to use as the iron on pattern will stabilise the fabric. That means that it won’t stretch too much when it’s stuffed. You can use other types of fabric as well but please make sure that it isn’t heat sensitive. The iron on pattern needs to be ironed on with a medium-hot iron. If the fabric cannot be ironed with a hot-ish iron then I do NOT recommend using at, as it might distort with the heat. Or melt!
I have tested the Heirloom Sewing Kits using jersey, t-shirting, cotton needlecord, denim, cotton, polycotton, poly dupioni. The iron setting for these varied between 2-3. If you’re unsure then have a look at your care label. I’m also happy to answer any questions that you have about your fabric.
Cut up your fabric so that you have a flat area of cloth to work with. If you’re using a baby grow this will mean that you will need to cut off the arms, feet and neckline. You’ll also want to remove any labels or scratch mitts that fold back on the baby grow.
The most useful bits of material are likely to be the unfolded arms and the back area of the baby grow. These will give you the largest areas to work with. You then need to iron the fabric to make sure that it doesn’t have any creases in. If your fabric is creased when you make your heirloom, then it will be creased forever!
Roughly cut out the pattern pieces and discard the edges of the pattern. You don’t need to keep these. Turn your chosen fabric over so that the pattern is facing the ironing board. This means that the WRONG side of the fabric is facing up. Place the Bird Body Memory Zoo Pattern the RIGHT SIDE UP onto the REVERSE of your fabric. You should be able to see the writing on the pattern as it will be the right way round. If you can’t see the writing then you need to turn it over!
Using your iron on a medium-hot setting (2-3) and with the steam turned OFF press the pattern piece onto your chosen fabric. Do not move the iron around when pressing. Simply press and lift. Moving the iron around whilst pressing may distort the shape of the pattern piece. You don’t need to press super hard – just a gentle weight. You can move the iron about VERY gently once the pattern has adhered to the fabric – this just gets rid of any patterns from the shape of the iron that you might have left indented in the fabric.
Repeat steps 4-6 for the wings of the bird.
Now cut out your body and the wings along the SOLID black line. NOT the dotted line! The dotted line is the sew line.
Take one side of the body and lie it face down on your table. The right side of the fabric should be facing UP. Take your beak and hanging look and arrange them according to the instructions on the pattern. They should be facing INWARDS. It’s really important that the hanging loop is positioned at the angle displayed on the pattern so that the bird hangs correctly when it’s turned the correct way round. It can be tricky to make sure that the loop doesn’t ping apart at this stage! Place the other part of the bird on top of the first pattern piece – sandwiching the beak and hanging loop between them. You need to leave about 1.5cm of the loop hanging over the seam allowance. This makes sure that there is enough of the loop inside the bird so that it hangs safely. You don’t want the loop to pull out. You will have the right sides of the fabric together and the pattern markings facing outside. Carefully align the two pattern pieces and pin them together. You may find it helps to pin the loop in place.
Now it’s time to sew! If you are sewing by machine then you can use the dotted line as a guideline to help you sew. Don’t forget to backstitch on the machine to make sure that the ends of the seam are secure for turning. You don’t want your stitches to come out! If you don’t want to follow the dotted lines then use a 5mm seam allowance.
If you are sewing by hand then you can use the dots as a guideline on where to put your needle. Use the white thread for this if you are using the thread in the heirloom kit. You can also use thread bought separately if you wold like it to match your fabric. You might want to sew with a double thread to give the seam a little bit more strength. Stop and start at the area marked ‘Leave Open For Turning’. Do not sew this part of the bird. Make sure that the handing loop is safely tucked inside the bird when you are sewing it – you don’t want to catch it in the seam of the bird!
Pin the bird wings with RIGHT sides together. You will be making two wings for the bird. Now sew along the dotted line – leaving the hole open for turning the wing the right side out.
Clip the seams on both the bird body and the wings. This allows the fabric to turn neatly when you turn your bird the right way round. You nee to cut the excess fabric out from the tip of the bird’s tail so that it’s not too bulky when you turn it. You need to do the same with the fabric that is in the corner of the wings – where the shape goes out to make the feathers.
Turn your bird and wings the correct way round. You may want to use a chopstick (or similar item!) to poke the smaller areas of the bird and wings out. The trickiest part is turning the tail – you take it slowly and ease it gently.
Don’t try to stuff the whole tail out in one go – it needs to be coaxed out! Push all the seams fully out and give the wings a quick iron. It can help to fold the open area of the wings to the inside so that they are easy to close up later.
You can also iron the bird body if you think it needs it. You should have the hanging loop and the beak on the outside of the bird now and it should starting to take shape.
Stuff the body of the bird with the beautifully soft filling supplied with your heirloom kit. Use your chopstick to gently push the stuffing into the tail of the bird, then the head area, then fill the rest. Use small amounts of stuffing at a time – don’t try to jam it all in at once! You don’t necessarily have to use all the stuffing supplied. You may find that you have some left over. Don’t worry about that!
Close up the hole on the bird body using a ladder stitch. I’ve made you a YouTube video to help you do this as it’s impossible to explain in words! It’ll give you a lovely finish though so is definitely worth doing. Close the wings up with a ladder stitch as well. The wings do not need stuffing. If you are confused then PLEASE ask me either here or in the Memory Zoo Sewing Community.
Sew the wings onto the body of the bird with the white thread supplied.
You can either sew the wings on and then sew the buttons on separately – or you can be brave and sew the whole lot in one go! To sew the wings on hold them to the sides of the bird’s body – making sure they are in line and even – and pop the needle through one wing, then the body, then the wing. Pull the thread tight and go back the other way.
Once the wings are attached you can sew the buttons on in the same way – just make sure that they are in the correct location!
Now you can sew on the eyes. This is the last step! I have included 4 eyes in your packet – this is because they are teeny tiny and I felt there might be a risk that someone might lose one of them. We don’t want a one eyed bird! You only need to sew two eyes on (obviously!). They are a bit fiddly so you might want to go and get your glasses……
The best way to sew them on it to pop the thread through the middle of the eye, hold it onto the head and sew back and forth over the eye until it is secure. Pass the needle through the head of the bird and out the other side to sew on the second eye.
Well done! Your bird is finished!
I’m insanely proud of you and you should be proud of yourself. You’ve made something to keep forever out of clothes that were otherwise going to sit in the attic (or in a drawer) doing nothing. Your bird will bring pleasure to you every time you look at it!
If you’re not already a member of the Facebook Memory Zoo Sewing Community then please come and join us and show off your wonderful new decoration, heirloom and sewn-yourself-happiness. I’m so excited to see it! As I said at the beginning of this post if you have any problems at all then please, PLEASE come to the FB group and ask me to problem solve for you. I am here to help you!