The little songbird looking for the signs of spring.
I drew what felt like a thousand different cages and a thousand different birds in my quest to find the right ones and for a long while I struggled with the bars.
It just didn’t seem right, seem hopeful enough, for this little bird to be trapped behind bars. I wanted a home for him to return to, a sanctuary not a prison.
But then I can be overly sentimental at times.
So without further ado here’s the pattern for you to download, use and take flight with.
There’s also a further pattern which has the bird separate from the cage in case that’s at all helpful.
It really is a simple pattern and easy to adapt to the stitches that you know and love, should you prefer that.
The process for sewing this design is the same as for my scandi-style embroidery pattern, so check that tutorial out if you want a more comprehensive guide.
1. Print out the pattern and transfer it to your fabric
This pattern is life-size for my cushion but you might want to resize it to suit your needs.
The eagle-eyed among you will notice the absence of a hanging chain in the template itself. I find that long straight lines can so easily seem wrong to your eye even if they are technically ‘right’ or straight.
So I’d suggest that, once the rest of the pattern is committed to stitch and thread, that you then get out your ruler and play around with the positioning of the chain. Keep going until you find the right place, the position that looks ‘right’ to you and your creation.
2. Sew the bird
This design uses a mix of embroidery for the cage and applique for the bird.
Now if you’re a newcomer to this sewing lark, don’t let the word applique scare you – it just means attaching a fabric shape onto another piece of fabric. In this case, attaching the grey fabric bird onto the fabric of the cushion cover.
I’d recommend starting with the bird because it’s the centre of the design.
I chose to attach the bird by just folding under a little of the fabric, a little bit at a time, and then sewing along the edges by hand using satin stitch.
If that’s not your cup of tea, then you could attach the bird with some fusible bonding fabric and maybe a simple backstitch, or machine sewing the shape on.
As ever, there’s always the option to shake things up a bit and just embroider an outline, maybe in a contrasting colour.
3. Sew the cage
The birdcage is sewed with a mix of chain stitch and whipped back stitch. As with all of my designs, this is intended to inspire you rather than pin you down, so if you want to use different stitches then that’s great too.
4. Draw and sew the chain
Now, as I said before, I think that you want to do this last and check that it looks right to you. If its a cushion or pillow case, maybe put the inner in it to double check. Better to spend a few extra minutes now than have to re-do it later.
I wanted to try something a bit different for the chain and found cable chain stitch in an old embroidery book lurking on my bookshelves. I’d never used this stitch before and, although it’s a bit fiddly initially, I’m really pleased with the effect.
That said, chain stitch or a simple backstitch would also work.
I haven’t done a ‘How-to’ guide yet for cable chain stitch. It’s quite a specific sort of stitch and there are guides out there online. It is however a lovely stitch, so if you want to use it and want a bit of help then drop me a comment and I’ll happily knock up a ‘How-to’ guide with illustrations.
And there you go – ta da – your very own bird and cage.
As you can see, my little pattern lives on a plain cushion cover. I think it might look good on a simple leaf or flower patterned fabric but it just needs a little care to ensure that the pattern doesn’t distract from the embroidery.
And don’t feel constrained to a cushion. If I had the time, I’d love to do a repeating pattern of these on a plain duvet cover.
Wherever you place it, I hope that it cheers up a corner of your home and brings you joy.