Tuesday, June 8, 2021


Happy summer! I can't believe that this is the last week of school and that summer - with most of its joys and opportunities - is actually here. Last year, we ended the school year in a very different mood, faced with the prospect of so many more "no"s than "yes"es. The kids were despondent and afraid, and sad in many indescribable ways. I am so thankful for the vastly different scenario this year. My heart aches for the communities in other places where the situation is the opposite, and closer to, if not worse than, our experience in 2020. May they find relief and help and hope, and very soon. 

I've been working on putting together the last of the bird kits for my Etsy shop (there are still some of each variety available, so you can pick them up here) and now that I'm done, I can return to documenting my birds here on the blog! Here's another one I picked out from readers' suggestions in this earlier post

In real life, this little guy has iridescent feathers and, depending on the lighting, can appear in photos in shades of green ranging from emerald to lime and even turquoise. Which, as you can imagine, is a tad challenging to render in fabric that isn't sequined or something else from the Halloween costume aisle of the store. After changing my mind about a million times, I eventually decided on a tie-dye green fleece to approximate the changing hues in the sunlight.  

His wings are a very simple green overlay on dark brown, which has stitching lines to mimic the flight feathers.

His tail is almost fin-like, 

and very similar in coloration to the wings - green over brown.

He has a red throat - again, in the photos, it seemed to be anything from scarlet to orange to deep red.

His bill is very different than the ones in the other birds I've made - long and skinny and slightly curved. If I were to make him again, I'd shorten it a little, but otherwise, I do like how he turned out.

I mentioned in an earlier post that while making this hummingbird and the oriole from the last post, I experimented with the grain direction of the fabric so I could show you guys how that affects the shape and proportion of a finished stuffed toy. I've discussed this idea previously in the context of bunnies when I was making prototypes for the Bunny and Carrot pattern - the conclusion then was that one grain orientation produced plumper bunnies and stumpier feet than another, and if we didn't want skinny bunnies (or, conversely, if we did), we'd do well to pay attention to the grain direction.

The premise holds for birds, too, and is particularly useful if one considers that some bird species are naturally rounder than others, at least as they are typically depicted. I think of robins, for instance, as fluffy things that puff out their little red chests and hop on the grass in mounds of feathers. Hummingbirds - when they're still long enough to see - are tiny little things, sleek and slender and zippy. Obviously, depending on the conditions, any bird can be of either profile, but in my mind, some birds are round and others less so, and I wanted to be able to represent that difference by choice when making mine.

Here's the body of the hummingbird, which turned out leaner and more streamlined than the other birds, although you might think it looks plenty plump here.

Until you compare it to, say, the oriole.

Here they are in a series of side-by-sides. 

It's probably most evident here. These are exactly the same body templates, by the way. The oriole's were cut with the stretch direction (fleece has some stretch in one direction) horizontal i.e. it stretches sideways, which is the grain orientation recommended in my sewing pattern, and most other stuffed toys. The hummingbird's were cut with the stretch direction vertical i.e. it stretches head-to-base.

This difference in stretch orientation also affects the overall heights of the birds,

as well as the proportions of one body part to another. Incidentally, I laughed when I took these juxtaposition photos, because it's ridiculous to imagine a hummingbird next to a blue jay in real life without being completely dwarfed by it, let alone beat it in a size competition.

So, grain orientation and stretch direction. It's not rocket science, really, but I thought it'd be interesting to see that we can in fact sometimes defy the instructions of a sewing pattern for advantageous reasons. Summary: if you want to make a leaner-looking bird, disobey my grain suggestion and turn the templates 90 degrees.

And with this green addition, I now have an almost-rainbow of birds.

I should really make a purple bird, like one of those purple starlings or martins. Maybe someday.

Till then, I wish you guys a wonderful summer. May you enjoy the sunshine and the glorious symphony that is nature: the sibilant dance of leaves in a sudden breeze, the crashing rhythm of ocean waves (if you're lucky enough to live along the coast, I mean, and no, I'm afraid lake waves don't come close), and the sweet descant songs of the birds. 

1 comment:

  1. I love these! They're absolutely adorable, and they represent every bird that comes to our yard, and all but the robin eat at our feeders. Your renderings are adorable.


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