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.


I also photographed them. They went to summer camp,


put on plays,


dressed up like pirates,

the notorious fortune gang

went looking for love,

how to attract birds

got married,

wedding in prospect park

and went searching for adventure.


And that’s the place I’ve come to – I’m excited about sharing the pattern and seeing what adventures the birds you make might have.  I’m making a few adjustments and starting round 2 of pattern testing tomorrow. I hope to  have the little bird  pattern ready to go as soon as next week.

(update – find the little bird pattern here)



  1. Julia D.

    Yay! Good for you! We will all cherish your darling little birds, your talented design, and put our own spin of feathers to them. Can hardly wait until the spider pattern arrives….

  2. Hélène

    Yupi!Dear Ann, I have always wanted to make some little birds like yours but too difficult for me without a pattern , so I am delighted and can hardly wait to see how it works.:)

  3. LOVE IT!!!! Thanks for posting!!! Looking forward to the patterns, too!

  4. I can only imagine how you must feel having your little birds fledge. I have enjoyed each and every post about them and cannot wait to try my hand at making one. I have my Great Grandmother’s wedding blouse (circa 1900). I have been saving it for a special project and I think a bird for each of her grand to great great grandchildren would enjoy having a bird from its cloth. Thanks for always being an inspiration. Hugs.

  5. The photos of the little birds a so much fun. “Went looking for love” cracked me up! Love the little birds so much!

  6. I love your birds and their story! I can’t wait to get a pattern and make one too. I will treasure their history and how important they are to you – thanks for your incredible talent and sharing with us!

  7. How exciting. I love your little birds and look forward to making one or many.
    What about your owl. Are you keeping him a secret or will you offer him as a pattern also?
    Now that would be wonderful. Be sure to post to you FB when the patterns will be ready to order.

    Brenda in Knoxville TN USA

  8. Oh, I am so excited! I can’t wait to get your pattern! I love your birds!!

  9. Catherine Wood Flavin

    I am the proud owner of a small collection of these wonderful creations. Particularly special, are the bridesmaids birds that you designed for my wedding. Maybe Becky can post a photo of hers 🙂

  10. sallie a kane

    Ann, I know it must be bittersweet, sending your babies out into the world, but we will love and care for them. Your talent and generosity is so inspiring, thankyouthankyouTHANKYOU!

  11. Ann, you have such a cute sence of humor. Loved reading about your birds and their adventures. Can’t wait for the pattern too. Should be soooooo much fun!

  12. In Russia too admire talent of ann wood and its birdies!

  13. I am soooooo excited you are putting out a pattern! I’ve been in love with your birds for so long! I actually attempted to make a set, I couldn’t afford yours but desperately wanted them to go with my slightly bird themed wedding as a cake topper so I got some fabric and looked at your photos and tried to make something that resembled a bird. While they aren’t anywhere near perfect or artfully created and just all around beautiful they are sentimental, and the female bird is wearing part of my grandmas veil and the male bird has some Air Force stripes and hat and tie on. So, thank you for creating these, when I see my little attempt I think of your gorgeous creations!
    If you want to see them there’s a somewhat decent photo here 😉

  14. Hello Ann and fellow posters,
    Reading today’s email/mini documentary on the history of Ann Wood’s birds,I feel as if I had a head massage, and just finished watching a heart warming romantic, sentimental movie. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh I’m ready for bed, thank you for the new neural pathways you have given me this day. You and your flock are a true gift to the universe.

  15. I can’t wait to sew a flock of the cutest birds I’ve ever seen!
    Are you going to release also the pattern of merry wobblers? I have a few boats waiting to set sails…

  16. I can’t tell you how much that made me chuckle ( love the ‘How to attract birds photo). I can imagine though how difficult it is to give away the thought processes that you’ve taken so long to nurse through to such a delightful and adorable piece of art. Your talents are obvious, as are your kindness and patience. X

  17. Hi Ann

    I’ve loved your birds for so long and always look forward to seeing them in funny photo shoots. I’m a bit of a fabric hoarder and keep the tiniest of scraps…. I can’t wait to be able to buy your bird pattern so I can use some of those precious scraps. (the picture of them all setting off for distant shores and new adventures really squeezes my heart)

  18. Jaimie Sander

    Thanks for sharing the evolution of your birds! They are so whimsical and fun,they make me smile everytime I see them!

  19. Patricia

    You are so kind to share your genius with us. Thank you so very much.

  20. Ann – I am so excited for this pattern – I cannot wait to get my hands on it. I’ve watched your birdie adventures – actually all of your beautiful adventures as you grew through the creations. I actually found you through the “horses” project many years ago.

    looking forward to the next creations you come up with.

  21. Ann, I have loved all of your creations or such a long time. Your small birds, merry wobblers, small boats, amazing ships, spiders, owls, horses—all are so precious. But, I especially love your little birds. I eagerly await the opportunity to purchase a pattern and try making some of my own. Thank you for sharing .

  22. I love your little birds. They are such characters and I can’t wait to buy a pattern so I can make one, too! Thanks for sharing and spreading love!!

  23. Oooh, how wonderful that you’re releasing a pattern for your iconic little birds. I’ll be in line to buy one. 🙂

  24. I also have loved your birds forever! I wish you the best for your future projects.♥

  25. Daisy Mae Flower

    I’m ready to buy “The Birds of Ann Wood & their Adventures” as soon as you decide to publish. :o)

    It would be a fitting pendant to the pattern.

  26. barbara leftwich

    I can’t hardly wait for your pattern to be available. I have admired your creations for quite some time, but your precious little birds are my favorites. Not sure which site to locate them on, but I am sure you will let us all know. Thank you for sharing your talent and imagination, you are blessed to be so productive. bye for now….

  27. Marie-Albane

    First, excuse me for my bad English, I am french and do not speak very well. Thanks so much for the bird pattern, years ans years Iam waiting for. So I buy the partern and I try to make one this week-end. Not so good, so I will do another one and of course, I will sent you a photo. Thanks again I am so happy.

  28. L kaupalolo

    Wonderful to learn that your “little bird” pattern will be available! I was first taken with your clever “ships” story that I read in a magazine! I have been collecting cereal boxes, lovely sheer fabric, etc. before and since our move from TX to WA.
    I have made your beautiful colored horses for my grand nieces to decorate. And, also one for a very “clever” (I was told) card for my Grandson’s birthday package. (He loves your FOXES!)
    After the first of the year I am giving myself the gift I need most! To concentrate on MY SHIPS and your other inspirations! MAHALO!!!

Comments are closed.