We're looking forward to the luxury that New Year's Day offers us. Definitely no alarm clocks and possibly pajamas all day. Maybe it's a desire to accomplish at least one thing, but going for a walk always feels like a virtuous cause. (In that case, we'll throw a sweater on over our jammies and hope no one notices.) It's as if taking in a breath of fresh air on this first day of the year will give us a hint of what lies ahead.
Stepping one foot in front of the other, whether it's in the woods or the quiet of the city streets during a holiday is the ultimate opportunity for reflection. A few steps later and an inward gaze might shift towards observation. With the ever-present help of nature, inspiration usually sneaks in. The flutter of a bird's wings, whether it's the sound of them flapping or the wonder of how they take flight, is enough to stop us in our tracks and cherish all that is around us.
Nature knows exactly how to distract you at just the right time by luring you in with its seeming simplicity. Upon closer look, its intricacy of design is what keeps you coming back for more. That balance of pure and complicated strikes a chord with us. It’s a beautiful thing that brings calm and peace to our thoughts.
Doves have long been a symbol of peace. The release of a flock at a wedding or a single dove carrying an olive branch to symbolize accord are signs of optimism and hope for the days ahead. To bring a little bit of nature inside and to calm our thoughts, we decided to create a peace dove of our own.
handmade peace doves
Hand making a beautiful fabric bird is a good project for those of us who have a hard time sitting still. It also clears our minds from what is going on in the world, as we focus on one little detail at a time.
1/8 yard woven fabric (quilters cotton, linen, or other light to medium weight fabric)
Contrasting thread (for stitching eyes, wings)
2 beads for eyes
Scissors (fabric and paper)
Erasable fabric pen or chalk
Unsharpened pencil with eraser (optional, for stuffing the bird)
Hand sewing needle
Photocopy machine (to size pattern pieces)
Sewing machine (hand stitch if not available)
After choosing your fabric and gathering your materials and tools, cut out and mark the fabric pieces (find printable pattern and complete instructions here). For better detail, we used a separate pattern piece for the beak, but if you choose to keep your sewing more simple, cut your beak as part of the body pieces. It will be less 3-dimensional, but will save you some time and effort.
Now you are ready to sew the pieces together. Lining up the dots, pin one dove side piece to the underbelly piece, with right sides together. Stitch, leaving 1/8” seam allowance. Do the same with the top of head piece, lining up square marks and then stitching to side one.
Next, complete the body by pinning and then stitching the second side to first (right sides together), leaving the bottom of the tail unstitched and open for turning and stuffing. Carefully turn the bird right side out, using a point turner to get the beak as pointy as possible, then stuff.
We like to poke the stuffing into place with the eraser end of an unsharpened pencil. The eraser grips the stuffing nicely. Stuff the bird tightly, as that will make all of the features look more accurate. When you are done stuffing, turn the raw tail edges in, pin, and hand stitch the tail closed.
Next, pin and stitch the wing pieces, right sides together. Make sure to leave an opening for turning. After lightly stuffing, fold the raw wing edges in and hand stitch them shut. We did some free motion sewing machine stitching on our white dove wings and tail using contrasting thread, but you could also add some hand embroidery stitches, or just leave them plain if you have used a printed fabric. Now, pin and hand stitch the wings to the body, making sure they are lined up with each other.
If you have chosen to sew on a separate beak, fold it in half with right sides together and stitch. Trim beak tip and turn right side out using point turner. Stuff beak firmly and pin to dove’s head, turning raw edge under and matching seam lines. When you have the beak in place, hand stitch to the head, using a tight whip stitch and hiding knots at bottom of beak. If you have made a solid color bird and would like to add some eyes, use an erasable fabric pen to draw on some detail to be hand stitched with contrasting thread. Use your imagination, or look at some birds for inspiration. Stitch your pretty details and add some eye beads, then erase any marks. Your beautiful peace dove is done.
Now that you know how to make them, you can change sizes, fabrics, and stitching details to create birds that come from your own heart and hands. Display them perched on real branches, or give them as a symbolic gift. Kids would love to make or receive these too.
Thread & Whisk wishes you inspiration and peace in 2016.