Put a Bird (and Heart) On It

Heart applique detailFor two years now “put a bird on it” has been a catch phrase in the craft community. It comes from the sketch comedy television show Portlandia. In the skit, two decorator types go into a gift shop and put birds on things to “spruce it up, make it pretty.” A stenciled bird on a teapot, a vinyl bird on a greeting card, even a bird etched on toast. The phrase came to mind recently when my sister Jenny was giving me birthday gift ideas for little Stella. “She likes clothes with hearts on them.”

I looked through the little girl clothes at Target for something with hearts, and I almost bought this dress, until I realized it was really more me than Stella. But why was I looking for clothes with hearts? I can sew! I can add hearts to clothes!

So I bought a simple T-shirt instead (and a Ladybug Girl book), and headed to my fabric stash to see what would work. The colors in this bird fabric matched perfectly, and it meant I could put a bird and a heart on it!

I Googled “heart templates” and found a size and shape I liked. I printed it out, and then cut out the shape. Next, I traced the shape onto one side of Lite Steam-A-Seam2, a double-stick fusible web. This is an applique paper that came highly recommended in a machine embroidery book I was recently editing, because it’s so lightweight and easy to use.

Heart applique step 1

I then removed the paper on one side of the Steam-A-Seam and positioned the heart on the back of the bird fabric. The Steam-A-Seam is thin enough that I could easily see where on the bird I was placing the heart.

Heart applique step 2

Then I cut the heart shape out of the fabric (and the paper).

Heart applique back

Next, I removed the paper from the heart and positioned it on the shirt. The stickiness isn’t permanent until its ironed, so I could move the heart around to find just the right spot. Once I did find the right spot, I ironed it down, and then zigzagged around the shape to finish it up. The Steam-A-Seam added barely any weight or stiffness to the shirt—which make it perfect for kids’ clothing.

Heart applique

It seriously doesn’t get easier than that. Now I can put hearts and/or birds on anything!

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