I really love the different seasons of the year and like to celebrate them by sewing a quilt or pillow to add to the sofa in my home. We don't have a lot of decorations up, so this is one way I can really change the feeling of our house. Nothing gives me a better feeling than cuddling up under a homemade quilt in the fall and winter months. But after quilting for 15 years, we have accumulated a lot of quilts especially with the highly loved flannel backing. So now, I am starting to make a lot of miniature quilts and wall hangings for a simple change of decor.
I wanted to create something special for the winter months that could actually stay up longer than just until Christmas. Here in Germany, Christmas decorations start the second to third week of November and last until the 6th of January. (Thanksgiving as Americans know it, does not exist in Germany. A lot of people ask me about that.) After the 6th of January, we pack everything up and the house just seems bare! So, this was a little idea to cover the months until spring starts showing us her flowers again.
I love the cardinal and but also the blue jay (also known as blue bird, I think). Both of these birds are found in North America and Newfoundland in the winter months. They just make me happy with their bright colors standing out in the snow covered trees singing a tune. When I designed this quilt I truly looked at a lot of other bird blocks out on the market. I wanted a block that was small and easy to construct and look realistic.
I started designing a cardinal. I wanted a bird perched in the trees. Although this looks a bird, you usually don't see a cardinal with its wing tip stretched out. Come on...it's cold in winter!These birdies are huddles under their wings trying to keep from freezing their feathers off.
Then I posted on Flickr to get some feedback that this one was better.
I started adding some pine combs to the picture to make it more realistic. Although this could be doable for some, others would get very frustrated quickly with those tiny pieces. I wanted to create something simple and easy to make with very little pieces to put together.
And I not only wanted to create a cardinal, I also wanted to make a beautiful blue jay too. They both have those pointy feathers on their heads. Sorry, my vocabulary is not up to par. I am not a bird watcher nor ornithologist; I am a simply bird admirer. So I thought I could design a bird that could fit both the cardinal and the blue jay.
I printed out some templates from EQ7 and sewed my first blue jay.
Then I started thinking about the best way to construct the block. When you design FPP patterns, you can draw lines to change the construction of your quilt blocks. I wanted to make the block easy for beginners, but also look interesting. I sewed this block together six to seven times to get the construction I thought would be easiert for all quilters.
After looking at these blocks a couple of days, I decided this did not look like a blue jay. I asked a friend, Karen of Ka Holly, who is a little closer to nature than me, what she thought about the designs. She gave me her honest opinion - this one looked better. It might still not be the best, but it does the job for me.
I altered the beak to be narrower and pointier like a real blue jay. This was now my main block. I created the cardinal from this block. All of the features are the same, but the bills and collar have been changed. I really wanted just to make a block where you could mix and match features...sort of like the Granimals from the 1970's that my sister and I wore. I love mix and match!
Then, after a few alterations, the cardinal was born. I hope you like both birds. They were designed to be interchangeable so less confusion and ease of repetition in construction. I also minimized the amount of piecing for ease.
In the pattern, you also gain another little tip about how to pep up your own designs by making piping. It is very simple and adds a lot of pizazz. Here is a close up of those singing love birds. In the background you can see some quilted snowflakes and free motion quilting of wind-swirls. I made my own snowflake templates by folding a circle in half then in quarter or thirds, tracing them onto the quilt and straight line quilted with the machine. It wasn't enough, so I also did some FMQ. I am not totally happy with it, (and seriously thought about ripping git out) It was another learning experience for me to get better.
And here is the final design of Little Winter Wonders! The quilt measures 17" x 22" and is for intermediate quilters with FPP experience. I hope you like it. There are ideas in the pattern of what you can also make if you only want to make a smaller flock of birds.
A big thanks goes out to Katrin of Cattinka for proofing my patterns in both English and German. Thanks, Katrin!!! You are the best! I can't thank you enough.
And of course, my husband, who helps me with my design ideas and helps with my German translation. Love you, Sweetie!
The German version will be available soon.
If you are interested in purchasing this pattern, you can find it in my Etsy store - easypatchworkshop. If you would like to sell this pattern in your store, wholesale patterns are available. Please contact me.
Just a little side note... a lot of time and energy is put into optimizing patterns. Although there is some good software out there on the market, quilt designers are still writing and creating all of the graphics themselves as well as having the patterns tested. Support your quilt designers and your quilt shops. When they are gone, the hobby will be gone as well. There is nothing like going in to a well stocked quilt shop where the store owner knows you by name, greets you and shares their enthusiasm for your hobby.
Thank you for stopping by and learning about my designing process. I truly appreciate it! Thanks! Enjoy your weekend!