Each year, as the gentle winds blow thru my house, the doors try to “fly the coop” resulting in sudden door slams, smashed fingers and trapped cats. Have you ever observed a cat stuck between a glass door and a screen? Utter hilarity, however, the cat disagrees.
I chose to make my chicken fun and colorful verses a traditional color combo. You can see Betz’s version below from her book Present Perfect.
The pattern is simple enough that any fabric would work well with this, but I would recommend a good quality fabric since your bird will be sitting on the floor and taking a good amount of wear and tear over the years. I used an organic cotton called Alchemy by Amy Butler for Rowan Fabrics for the main body and wool blend felt from National Wovens. You could even use a lightweight outdoor fabric which is made for heavy wear and is often treated to resist dirt, water and mildew. Here are some other quick tips that would make sewing your chicken a little easier.
Tip #1: Do a Puff Test
Once all your pieces are cut the next step is to sew the wings. After sewing around the perimeter of your wing, leaving a small opening, I recommend stuffing a very small amount into the wing and then doing a “Puff Test” by sliding it under your presser foot. If it doesn’t fit or you really have to wiggle it under, take a little bit of the stuffing out and try again. Once it fits, go ahead and sew your curved lines into your wings, then stuff a little more into wing to give it some more poof and then sew it closed. This method is a little more forgiving if you happen to over stuff you chicken wing and need to remove some.
Tip #2: Add Quilting
Since your chicken body will be lined with batting I chose to add quilting to my chicken. By adding quilting it will keep your batting from shifting around as you sew your body pieces together, just like in a regular quilt!
I did a simple diamond motif using my 3” ruler as a basic guide to space my lines at 1 1/2” and a water soluble pen. I also recommend a bigger stitch length for your quilting lines. I typically sew using a 2.5 length but for quilting I bump it up to 3.0. You don’t have to do this, but I like how it looks.
Of course you can quilt your chicken how ever you’d like, but if you’d like to do a diamond motif you can use the following method:
Take your ruler and measure how far apart you want your first set of lines to be, angling your ruler enough to make a nice diagonal. I made mine 1 1/2” apart to make it easy. The angle of your ruler doesn’t matter overly much, but you’ll want to slant it enough to make the diamond shape as you come back across.
Once you’ve quilted the first body piece you’ll need to do the same with the second. To match the quilting lines to the second piece I laid my finished piece right side down on top of my ruler. You’ll see that I’ve positioned the ruler to be in line with the quilting.
Then lay your second piece right side up on top of the first, then mark your line spacing at the top and bottom of your chicken before removing your ruler from underneath. This will help give you a good reference point for evenly spacing your lines on the second body. Once you have your reference points, pull your ruler to the top piece, lining it up with your initial markings and continue your lines across the body.
Finish marking and quilting your second piece. For the bottom piece I added straight lines going straight across at 1 1/2” intervals again. Make sure to use a damp wash cloth or towel to “erase” your pen marks when you’re done quilting.
I also decided I was going to make more of a Hen than a Rooster for my doorstop so I opted to not add the Wattle pieces and gave my little Hen some rosey cheeks instead. You can do this before you add the eyes, but I added my cheeks after the eyes were sewn on so I could see how the placement looked.
Once you have your entire chicken sewn and stuffed you’re ready to add your weight. I found a nicely packaged bag of 4 pound decorative sand, though it totally looks like tiny gravel, in my local big box hardware store back by the orchids and tropical plants. I ended up weighing my bird down with the entire 4 pound bag, but the 2 pound recommendation would work well in most situations.
Tip #3: Truss Your Bird (aka sew it all closed)
When I was ready to sew my chicken closed I found the easiest way to do this was to place the bird upside down in my lap so that its body rested on top of my knees. This kept it from being squashed and prevented me from having to position my needle in an awkward position. It will make for a much easier sewing experience all around and won’t put as much tension on your thread as you pull the seams together.
No one ever said a doorstop should have to look boring and Betz has done a great job of coming up with a fun and very useful creation that would fit into anyone’s home. And remember, if chickens aren’t your thing, you could easily take away the comb and wattle and make a duck or a colorful bird!
You can find this pattern in Betz’s new book Present Perfect.
**This post is part of the Betz White Sewing Collective series. I am a compensated contributor expressing my own views and opinions.**