So here we are again, back on the scrap heap.
I have been pondering what to do next with the fast dwindling supplies of the scrap heap.
A large wall seemed to have been erected through my head.
The ponderings were getting me no where.
And then I couldn't sleep.
And then I started musing on some of the wonderful things I have been given over the years.
It would appear I have been given quite a few over the years.
And then the wall crumbled and I danced delightedly upon its rubble.
Fuse your obsessions girls, fuse your obsessions.
Brooches, birds, birds, brooches....

So yesterday I took my miners lamp, a pick axe, a whistle and a very long length of string and set forth to mine the scrap heap for the exactly right scraps.
We are now well and truly in to November so I feel no remorse in mentioning the c word.
I bring you a Christmassy festive brooch.

I started with a rather poor and tiny sketch of our favourite Christmas bird.
The brooches are about 1.5" wide by 2.5" long.
After a lot of frustrated rubbing out and starting again. I realised I should draw round my brooch base before commencing drawing.
It was at this point the plan started to come together.

I should mention here how I make the bases for my brooches.
I use 3 layers of heavy wool felt.
I tend to make a large sheet of it up and then cut it up in to the smaller shapes. I stitch the outer edges of the 3 layers together and then stitch in a random zig zag pattern back and forth across the felt.
I like the texture this gives the finished brooch base as well as the stability it offers.
I don't worry about cutting through threads or finishing ends off, it all adds to the frayed organic look!

At this point sketch the out line of your bird on to the brooch base.
After much rummaging in the scrap heap I found a selection that pleased this old girls eye.
The floral piece in the background became the body of the robin, with the cream back ground as its tummy. The red silk dupion became the breast and the rust silk? Well sadly it was relegated back to the heap.
I also like on small pieces of machine embroidery and applique like this to use up all those annoying bobbins with colours you may not need again. In fact if they are the right colour I use them as the top thread.

Cut out your Robin shapes from the scraps.
Place the body on to the brooch.
I don't bother pinning it, but I have done very little with my life over the last 24 years other than sit at a machine and sew!
So please pin if you don't feel confident.

I sew my shapes on using free hand machine embroidery. If you have never done this before, plunge in to the deep end and have a go. Its so much fun.
Consult your manual for how to do this on your machine.
Basically you will have to drop the teeth or feed dog on the machine. Though on more modern machines you may have a plate that you attach over the plate to stop the feed dog from working.
The feed dog is the moving part of the machine just under the foot. It is what moves the fabric through the machine. By dropping it it is up to you to move the fabric through the machine. Which gives you loads of scope to stitch any which way you like!

Stitch on the tummy. I have given it some more texture by stitching back and forth across it.
Now I really like the raw frayed edges. I feel it makes the bird look more alive, gives it more movement.
But I realise this may not be to every ones taste or style.
If this is the case and you want a cleaner line I would suggest you iron some bondina on to the back of your scraps, then fuse your shapes on to place brooch base.
This will prevent the fraying and give a cleaner line.

Stitch on you breast.
A robin has a blue grey highlight round the breast and on to the tummy. I did this in a contrasting thread.
At this point I also stitched on the outline of the wing with a few extra lines to help with the definition.

Then the finishing details.
Eye, beak and legs.
Snip off all your threads, sew a brooch clasp on to the back and DAAA DAAA!
A christmassy bird brooch!

In fact I loved making this bird so much that I carried on playing around and experimenting. And so I give you
A king fisher

and a yellowhammer

I was having so much fun exploring the return my inner stitched twitcher that I made a whole flock of the robins.

I have put them and the other birds in my shop if you haven't got the time or quite frankly can't be bothered to make one of your own!
And speaking of my shop.
There are still a few freebie Tales from the scrap heap scrap bags (you just pay the postage) left.
And I am thinking of listing some scrap bags of coloured linings if any one is interested.
Happy stitching kids.
Love Nora xx


  1. Thank you for showing us your birds Nora!! they are fabulous!

  2. Fabulous! Fascinating to see the process too.

  3. These are lovely FN. Thanks for the lesson too..

  4. This is just the best explanation I have ever read! I'm serious - do you know how long I have wondered what people meant when they said 'dropping the feed dog thingy' ?? (Obviously I was far too embarrassed to ask!) Thank you so much for this Jane - you are a star. Kx

    p.s. I just tried to buy a robin and folksy said you don't post to Australia! Will try again... I must have done something wrong ;)

  5. Ooh, lovely birds from a lovely bird!
    I need to get a darning/free embroidery foot for my machine so I can do more of this!
    Thanks for the how to!

  6. They are adorable, I love the robins. Might have to have a go...

  7. A lovely lovely post - I am laughing! I love the robins and all the other cute little fraying birds and your explanation!!!! Thank you for it.


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