All your precise cutting and careful sewing are lost without thoughtful stuffing. Songbirds are a great example of how stuffing can take your project from OK to magnificent. The birds need to be firmly stuffed to fully express all their curves and have “birdness”. The birds below were hand stitched using the songbird sewing pattern. I’ve got 7 tips to help make your birds or any 3 dimensional sewing projects awesome.
1. A well stuffed creature starts with preparing the seams before you turn it right side out. Clip little triangle sections out of the seam allowance around the curves. Be careful not to cut the seams.
2. Turn your bird right side out. Take the wider end of a chopstick and run it firmly along the inside of the seams. It gives you a head start on pushing those curves all the way out. I learned this trick from a student at a workshop and use it all the time. It’s especially helpful on small curved seams that you can’t easily press open.
3. Use great stuffing. I only use wool. It makes a firm shape, I find it easier to work with than poly fill and you can fine tune the shape – more on that later. Find it in my shop.
4. Take your time. I spend a huge amount of time stuffing my birds and other creatures. Add a little at a time. Start by pushing the stuffing all the way to the head. Adding too much at once makes it harder to completely fill the shape. Keep adding stuffing until the bird body feels and looks full and round.
5. Close your eyes. Run your fingers gently over the surface and feel for empty spots or lumps. Your fingers will pick up things your eyes won’t.
6. Adjust from the outside. Use a large needle to fine tune the shape, move little bits of stuffing around inside the bird. You can get stuffing into or out of little spots that would be impossible to get to from the inside.
7. When you’re ready to close stitch part way and then add a little more stuffing (songbirds get temporarily closed at this point in their process so I’m basting).