crow sew-along week 1 : making the body shape

Welcome to week 1 of the crow sew-along, or, crow-along! This week will be focused on getting the body shape sewn and stuffed. That’s steps 1- 32 in the sewing pattern, so do-able!

If you are new to this kind of sewing it seems like a lot before you begin. Focus on accomplishing one step at a time. Each step is super simple if you just focus on that task. You’re going to make an awesome crow.

How this sew-along works :

Each week we will focus on completing one section of the pattern. There will be a blog post with tips and some additional insight or instruction. All the pattern steps will not be recreated in the blog post – please follow the pattern steps in your pdf and read each section before beginning.

Please check the blog on Fridays for sew-along posts – there will not be an email each week.

This is not a class or live event. You don’t need to sign up for anything or be available at a particular time. All you need to do is purchase the crow pattern and complete the steps each week – sharing on instagram or facebook is totally optional.

Ask questions or offer your own tips in the comment section. There are lots of people participating and some are beginners. If you have made the crow before or you’re an experienced sewer and can help out with questions that is very much appreciated.

For sharing images and discussion please use #annwoodcrowsewalong and #annwoodpattern on instagram and you can join the crow facebook group.  At the end of the sew along I’ll also provide an email you can send photos to so you can share your finished crow that way if you like.

Let’s start by checking out how the parts come together to make a 3 dimensional shape. Seeing the bird assembled helps you get your head around the construction steps before you start. This is especially helpful if you haven’t sewn anything 3-D before. Please watch the video above – if you don’t see the video click here.

week 1 – making the body

Please read the pattern notes and at least the first 32 steps before beginning.

textile crow and printed fabric overdyed with purplish black on my work table

I chose a cotton fabric salvaged from a vintage apron for the body.  The wings and tail will be made from that fabric as well as other scraps that were overdyed in black. Overydyed fabric is a great way to use a bunch of old clothes or fabric  scraps you already have for your crow. It’s especially helpful if you’re feeling stuck on fabric selection, throw a bunch of scraps in a dye bath and see what turns up. The fabrics above were dyed with RIT dye which gives a very purple tone.  I’ll mix these with some true black for variety in the feathers.

In steps 1- 4 of the pattern you will cut out your pattern pieces and mark the seam line.  Careful cutting will make the rest of the project much easier and  it’s super important to not skip marking the seam line even if you are a very experienced stitcher. I’m using a white colored pencil. Measure and mark dots at ¼ inch  all around the pieces and then connect the dots. It goes fast – marking all the pieces only took about 15 minutes. Pro tip: place a sheet of fine sandpaper under the fabric piece and it won’t slide around so much.

Also mark the front of the head and the section to leave open.

In steps 5 – 8 we begin to assemble the body by adding the head gusset. If this is your first gusset congratulations! Notice I’ve used a ton of pins. I’m sewing the seam on the machine and I don’t want my carefully matched edges to move around. Pin and sew the other side of the head and follow steps 9-11 to sew the back seam.

the exciting and magical world of darts!

Darts are magic, they pull the crows legs under him. Darts look scary and complicated but they’re not! And once you know how darts work a new world of sewing possibilities is available to you. Before we install the underbody we sew the darts. Make your marks carefully using the dart template (steps 12-13).

Fold the leg in exactly on the fold line (step 14). I always stitch these by hand using super small stitches.

Attach the underbody to the sides (steps 19-27). Take your time, use tons of pins and match your edges carefully. The key to success here is focusing on one step at a time. In step 20 you sew the long side seam and  in step 21- pictured above –  the front seam of the leg. With both sides and front leg seams sewn it’s easy to fit the tail and back leg seams to finish the body.

That’s it – the body is assembled! Before you turn your crow right side out clip little triangles all around the curves.

When it’s right side out, take a chopstick and run it all around the edges of the seam from the inside with firm pressure – this will make your seams even smoother.

Stuff your crow with wool stuffing. Begin at the head adding a little at a time. You want a firmly stuffed bird with a smooth surface. I used about 2 ounces of wool.   Check out this post about stuffing. You don’t need to stuff the legs now – we’ll deal with those later.

Check back next friday for week 2 – wings and tail- there will not be a newsletter next friday so please check the blog for the post. We’re going to add an extra dimension of awesomeness to the wings!

sew along links:  week one     week two     week three

28 Comments

  1. Hi Ann,
    I sure appreciate all of your inspiring work and patterns – and for everything you do and offer. Thank you for this “crow-along” ~ but can hardly hear your voice. When recording your videos, is it possible for you to turn up the volume?
    Thanks!

    • Thanks so much Nancy! Please be sure you have the volume turned up on the video player menu. Sorry I can’t offer more help but I can’t reproduce the problem on my end. Thanks for joining the crow-along!

  2. I began my crow and already she is so handsome!
    For me the most impressive tip in Ann Wood’s pattern are
    the feet and even the beak.
    I never could quite understand how to make good bird feet and the method shown here produced some lovely “legs”.
    I haven’t finished but she is shaping up so nicely that I’m planning to make a friend.
    ( I used old deconstructed ties for the feathers-they had a good sheen.)

    • Thanks Cynthia! I love the idea of using ties – brilliant! so perfect for feather details.

  3. Just letting you know that the volume of your video is perfect on my device and headphones. Thanks, Ann, for all this extra information about sewing our Crows. The fabric dyeing info is very interesting. I’ve dyed fabrics for previous projects but, since I already have lots of blacks, greys and darks, I’ll move straight into selecting, cutting and sewing. Have a great weekend.

    • Thanks so much for letting me know Lynn – I’m a video making rookie and a little intimidated by all the stuff. Good luck with your crow making weekend!

  4. Teresa Nichols

    Ann, I loved making this crow! Your instructions are easy to follow and the patterns are precise. While mine is finished, my daughter, 12 & 8 year old grandkids and I are finishing theirs hopefully this weekend. It’s been so fun to see their creativity in action and will post pics. Thank you for your patterns. They spark fun ways to spend time together!

  5. I’m looking forward to joining in. I’ve had a sample book of velvet for a long time and am hoping I can make a colourful crow.

  6. Hello, Ann,

    Lacking wool for stuffing, what will be the detriment, if any, to the end result if I use poly stuffing, beside the fact it is plastic. It has been lurking in my sewing cupboard for years and what I have on hand at the moment.

    ~L

    • Hi Lynda, Sure you can use up that poly. I fin the wool easier to work with I like the weight and firmness of it for crows. I hope you enjoy the crow-along!

  7. June Coffey Welton

    Thank you so much for the tutorial, I bought this pattern a long time ago and have not made it ,gonna join in .

  8. Hi Ann, I joined the crow-along this morning, was printing the pattern and I ran out of ink. So I’m a bit behind everyone else, but I’m excited to make a crow, hopefully I’ll get my printer going again. Thanks for the tutorials. So nice to hear your voice. ♥️

  9. Oh Ann thank you! I will be starting my crow later this week, and your instructions are wonderful! I have to finish quilting a quilt for a gift first. But I’m so anxious to pull my fabrics for this old crow! Never thought about looking through my old tie collection. Hopefully I’ll find something good. This is just the most fun – a fabric pull of all kinds of black, blue, purple, and odd but beautiful stuff. I hope to catch up with your fabulous instructions soon – love you!

  10. Micki Sparr

    I had to travel on this weekend so missed out on the start but I am determined to catch up and be ready for next weeks crow along!

  11. Dear Ann,
    My sister and I started our own crow along a week or so ago. I’ve collected sticks and some old clothes.
    Then yesterday this email!! How timely. I did not expect this and am pleasantly surprised
    Thank you for your inspiration and support

  12. Thank you for this sew along–so appreciate the excuse and nudge to start the project that’s been sitting in my to-dos for to long!

    I have sewn my crow as instructed, but my crow’s beak is not as sticky-outy as yours in the pictures. Perhaps I sewed that seam closed? Will I be able to make that up later when we get to the beak insetting later on?

    • Hi Jessica – thanks so much for joining and I’m happy to provide a nudge! There should be an opening where the beak will eventually go. Notice in step 20 – the seam line does not go all the way to the point. It might also help to look further in the pattern and checkout how the beak is installed and the fabric we will add around it. I hope that helps!

  13. Just got back from a camping trip and can’t wait to get started on my crow(s)! Thank you for all the tips!

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