Saturday, January 17, 2009

Creating Cardinals -- Quilt Templates

In our For the Birds Sampler Series most of the blocks are pieced, but I thought some folk art applique Cardinals might be fun and complement the blocks we've been making. Lately, I've just been in the mood to make some "pluffy" fat Cardinals. So I made up some bird templates using card stock I had on hand.

You can do this too. I'll walk you through it; it's not hard.

You need:

  • Your template material -- I used card stock but you could use anything from Mylar to copy paper to basswood.
  • A pen or some sort of marking implement that works with your template material.
  • A pair of scissors or something to cut your template out with.
  • Straight edged ruler (I mostly used my rotary cutting ruler).
  • Something round -- I used a water bottle here, but I've also used the jar lid of a scented candle, a bowl, and a canister of hand salve. Anything round will work as long as it's the right size to be the body of the bird.

Trace your round thing in the center of your paper. Line the ruler up on the side that will become the bird's back and draw a straight line. I take advantage of the 45 degree angle on the corner of the ruler to get the feel of the peak of the birds head. This helps me estimate the height of the head and get the length of the line correct. You will need to draw another line from what becomes the chest of the bird to the tip of the head -- Cardinals don't have 45 degree heads.
Another line from the bottom of the bird out, helps to define the dimensions of the tail (in this case a downward tail) and then you can smooth out the shape of the bird.
Add a beak (and an eye just for looks) and cut out your template.
All that remains is to trace the template onto the fabric and applique your bird onto a quilt square. I keep the beak on the main template so that it doesn't get lost ( it's such a small piece) but you will use a different fabric and cut the beak separately when making it up.

Remember when cutting out your fabric, if you are doing needle turn applique you will need to add a seam allowance. If you are doing raw edge applique you can cut out on the lines you trace around your template.
You can also create an upward facing tail on the template as shown in the photo below. Simply add a rectangle at the lower end of the line that makes the back of the bird, and shift the bottom line to connect.
This tufted-head bird template done in reds will be Cardinals, and since my For the Birds sampler has been in reds, browns, and golds I have been calling it a Cardinal. However, there are other birds with similar head shapes, the Tufted Titmouse, Woodpeckers, Quail, and Blue Jays. Blue Jays would be an excellent choice for a sampler done in shades of blue.

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