Note the wonderful variety of stitches in this needlepoint canvas from Melissa Prince Designs. The stitch guide and stitching was done by Patricia Sone of Creative Stitches and Gifts in Dallas, Texas.

Three Ideas For Stitching Birds

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Birds are excellent subjects for stitching and in this post you’ll get ideas for using speciality threads, stitches and feathers to create your own avian embroideries!

Before I get into the details, I want to express my affection for our feathered friends, so let’s dive in!

Note the wonderful variety of stitches in this needlepoint canvas from Melissa Prince Designs. The stitch guide and stitching was done by Patricia Sone of Creative Stitches and Gifts in Dallas, Texas.width=

I come from bird people. My grandmother in rural Oklahoma would show me the cardinals in the woods, we’d walk down the lane to spot bobwhites and scissor-tail flycatchers, and then we’d listen to the owls at night.

My city grandma had shrubbery that attracted hummingbirds and a “special house” for blue jays. My aunt introduced me to bird feeders, and my uncle led me to the lake with a bag of bread as soon as we heard ducks quack. I’d get bird feeders for birthday presents, and decorate bird houses at camp.

This needlepoint bird canvas by Melissa Prince Designs is a treasure trove of techniques: varying stitches, using color for shading, and using different kinds of threads for textures.

Today I sit with my cats, pressed up against the window, watching the orioles, bluebirds, goldfinches, red-headed woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, wrens and other species that grace our garden. Life-list accompli: I’ve even seen the stunning Indigo Bunting in the wild.

So it is no surprise that at a recent needlework tradeshow, my eye caught sight of bird designs galore. In fact, I’d even call it a trend: humorous birds, primitive birds, silhouette birds, and highly stylized, detailed birds are available on quilting fabrics, needlepoint canvases, cross stitch charts, and home décor designs.

This string-art bird is from Kreinik's new line of String Art Canvas Kits. Look for the "Nature" kit in needlework stores and at

Nature has influenced art since the dawn of art, it transcends languages, and it has always been a popular theme in textiles. Cross stitch, needlepoint, and embroidery are art forms that speak in threads and stitches. So let’s showcase stitched birds, with three observations on how to achieve some of their visual effects in your own projects.

Colors of Kreinik Blending Filament that add the iridescence to stitched birds.


First, threads will help you interpret birds’ colouring. Birds come in shades of brown, black, white and tan. They also come in shades of pink, red, blue, purple, yellow, green, holographic and more. Nature put every colour under the sun in the bird world, and thread companies like Kreinik make every colour you need for a realistic or fantasy stitched version.

Stitched in Kreinik metallic braid (holographic colors), this needlepoint canvas by Labors of Love looks like jewelry, like cloisonne.

Second, the variety of threads available to needleworkers today will help you create texture in your bird design. There are fuzzy threads that look like the down of a baby bird and there are metallic threads that replicate the iridescence of wings. Don’t be afraid to use an out-of-the-ordinary thread (i.e., something other than cotton floss) to add effects to your design.

Kreinik Micro-Ice Chenille is a fuzzy thread that you couch on the surface of fabric, needlepoint, embroidery or cross stitch.
Kreinik has several textured and metallic threads for you to use
Louis Carney couched Kreinik Micro Ice Chenille around the bird and pears on this printed fabric.
Simple outlining with stitch can provide definition for your textile art
Beaded and embroidered bird by Cathie Hoover, using Kreinik metallic threads in the wings and outlines of the bird-themed fabric.
Even simple stitches with unusual threads can bring your work to life!


Notice the variety of stitches used in the photos here, and how they make the birds look more interesting. Even using the same stitch in alternating directions can create interesting visual effects. There are many stitch encyclopaedias online; I recommend browsing through them and making a doodle swatch of interesting selections.

This is a needlepoint painted canvas from the design company Labors of Love.
There are many canvaswork stitches that will add texture to your birds!
Patricia Sone of Creative Stitches and Gifts in Dallas, Texas stitched this Melissa Prince Designs needlepoint canvas. Her stitch guide includes the variety of stitches and threads needed to create this gorgeous bird.
Kate Barlow 'Smuggler' Silk Shaded Embroidery
Kate Barlow uses silk shading techniques to amazing effect!


Real birds have feathers, so why can’t your stitched birds have feathers? Buy them at outdoor/fishing stores, craft stores (ahem, you may even have a feather boa in your closet…), and attach with tacking stitches or even glue. No better way to make a stitched bird look eye-catching, and show a little attitude, than with actual feathers. One step beyond: add other ephemera like wire or beads.

ByKatyMarie embroidered bird with feathers
ByKatyMarie on Etsy is excellent at creating stitched birds with real feathers!

So the next time you see a needlepoint canvas bird design, a sampler with bird motifs, embroidery patterns or a cross-stitch chart of a bird, think about creatively using threads, stitches and other materials to make your design come to life. Have fun. (I’d love to see photos of your stitched birds. Let’s meet up on Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter.)

A variety of stitches, threads and ephemera (wire, feathers) come together to make this stunning needlepoint hummingbird. Painted canvas design by Labors of Love design company.

By the way, if you want more bird ideas for your stitching projects, we’ve got felted birds or mixed media birds for you to try!

Jamie "Mr X Stitch" Chalmers

Hi, I’m Jamie “MrXStitch” Chalmers and since 2008 I’ve been on a mission to change the way the world thinks about needlecraft.

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