peace doves

(Makes one dove )


Taking inspiration from nature
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.  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.

Scissors (fabric and paper)
Erasable fabric pen or chalk
Straight pins
Point turner
Unsharpened pencil with eraser (optional, for stuffing the bird)
Hand sewing needle

1/8 yard woven fabric (quilters cotton, linen, or other light to medium weight fabric)
matching thread
contrasting thread (for stitching eyes, wings)
polyfill stuffing
2 beads for eyes

Photocopy machine (to size pattern pieces)
Sewing machine (hand stitch if not available)

Locate the dove pattern pieces (below, or on page 3 when you print) and enlarge them 175% on a photocopier for this project.  You can choose to make whatever size bird you want, just note that smaller sizes might make turning and stuffing a bit more challenging.  After choosing your fabric and gathering your materials and tools, cut out the paper pattern pieces and layout on the fabric.  For better detail, we have included a separate pattern piece for the beak, but if you choose to keep your sewing more simple, cut your beak as part of the Dove Side pieces (shown by a dashed line on pattern) and ignore the separate beak pattern.  Your beak will be less 3-dimensional, but will still look nice.  If using separate beak, cut the body and round head without the dashed line beak.  For the Dove Sides and Dove Wings, you can stack the fabric layers to cut all pieces at once, but make sure that you cut both rights and lefts. Pin the patterns to the fabric and cut all pieces.  With fabric chalk or erasable fabric pen, mark the fabric with the dots, squares, and lines as shown on pattern.

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, pin the second side to first (right sides together), lining up the marks as before, starting with the head.  At this point you can pin and then stitch the entire bird shape together, leaving the bottom of the tail unstitched and open for turning and stuffing.  Before turning right side out, clip at corners to prevent lumpy seams.  Note:  If you have chosen to sew the beak as part of the side pieces, you should also clip the tip of the beak seam allowance, to make a pointy beak and not a stub.  Begin by using your sheet of paper as a pattern piece.  Trace around it onto the fabric (lining up with the fabric grain) and cut out the rectangle.  Set the fabric aside for a moment.

Make sure the seams capture all raw edges and carefully turn the bird right side out.  Use a point turner to get the beak as pointy as possible, being careful not to poke a hole in the fabric. Now stuff the bird with polyfill, starting with the beak and then head.  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 the front and back Dove Wing pieces, right sides together.  Stitch, noting the line marks on the pattern piece.  Do not stitch between the lines, as you need a hole to turn the pieces right side out.  Before turning, trim seam at the pointy end.  Now turn and lightly stuff, using the point turner and/or pencil eraser to help with the pointy end.  Next, turn the raw wing edges in and hand stitch them shut.

If you want to do any decorative stitching on the wings, now is the time to do it.  We did some free motion sewing machine stitching on the wings and tail using contrasting thread, but you could also do hand embroidery stitches, or just leave them plain.  When you are ready, pin and stitch the wings to the body, making sure they are lined up with each other.

If you have chosen to sew on a separate Dove Beak, fold it in half on the line with right sides together and stitch (as shown on pattern).  Trim close to 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.

Using an erasable fabric pen, draw on an eye detail to be hand stitched with contrasting thread.  Use your imagination, or look at some birds for inspiration.  Stitch your details, placing the start and finishing knots under where the eye beads will be sewn.  Then, stitch on the eye beads, erase any marks, and your beautiful peace dove will be 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.

view related blog post:  birds of a feather