Gratitude Chicken: step-by-step craft

New, easy craft project for fun

Recently, for no reason that I can describe, I wanted to make a fuzzy stuffed animal.  I wanted him to be cute but modern:  not exactly traditional.  I've outlined this craft for you below and included all my mistakes.  The more you learn from me, the more successful you will be in making a chicken for yourself!

The book and pattern

A few years ago, we purchased a book called Super Cute.  It has no author, which is odd.  The book was published in 2010 by Parragon.  It contains many craft projects that are beginner level.

I like how this book is spiral-bound.  Here is the project that caught my eye.  The book calls this felt chicken "Patchwork Charlie Chick."

Here are some directions in the book.  I followed these, but not to the letter.  I used thick white felt, which was somewhat hard to sew through.  But I loved the modern print "shorts" the chicken will wear.

One thing I modified was that the pattern (above) calls for shorts only in front.  Charlie Chicken has no pants in back.  That seemed a little odd, so I made the material in front and back.

Starting the project, making mistakes, but keeping on keeping on

Here, you can see my beginnings.  I cut out the pattern and chose a 100% cotton weave material for the shorts.  Above you can see how I have laid out the supplies:  small black button eyes and a button for the shorts, for decoration.

You can see my first and second mistakes
Because I used a thick white felt, I thought I could use an embroidery (large) needle and embroidery thread.  This did not work.  I needed to use a regular sewing needle and regular sewing thread.

I used a yellow thread to hand sew the orange felt beak. 
I used black thread to sew the button eyes.
I used yellow thread to hand sew the shorts on the front and back pieces of the chicken.  
Later, I used white thread to sew the pattern together.

You can see my third mistake in the above picture:
I thought I should use thick red felt for the feet and headcomb.
However, I later realized that a floppier comb and feet might be funnier.  This chicken will obviously never stand up, so why not use a thinner felt?  
This was a good realization on my part (before it was too late) since sewing through the thick white felt, the cotton shorts material, and a thick red felt would have been really difficult.

Okay, things are looking good here, except this photo shows you my next mistake:
I have the front and back of the chick on top of each other and will need to sew all around the perimeter except for a small side opening.  I will leave that open to insert the polyester fiberfill stuffing -- seems like a good plan.  Right?

Here's what I did wrong:  when I sewed the chicken and then inverted him, guess where his feet and comb were?  They were totally enveloped inside the chicken.  Not good.

Now let's take a look at the book's guide above.  You can see at the top right of page 49 that I should have put the stem (or leg) of the feet and the root of the comb on the outside of the inverted chicken.  
And I should have hidden the top of the comb and the ends of the feet sandwiched in between the reversed front and back panels of the pattern.  

Needless to say, I had to use my seam ripper to fix the problem I had caused.

Here is the chicken right side out with feet and comb safely secured in the right places.

This is what the chicken looked like before I stuffed him.

You can see the open seam on the left hand side of the chicken.

Things I will do differently next time

1) I will keep the open seam above the shorts.  It is harder to close up the chick through 4 layers of material.  I wish I had not made the opening on the center of the left side.  Next time, I will keep the opening (for the stuffing) on the top left so that I have to sew together the felt only.

2) I will probably not use thick orange felt for the beak, but use thin felt instead.  The extra structure was not really needed here.  If I had used thinner felt, I could have made smaller stitches.

Naming my new felt friend

When I finished this project, I named my chick "Gratitude Chicken."  I did this for a few reasons.

1) Americans eat a lot of chicken and a lot of eggs.  I am not as grateful for the food that I eat as I should be.  I do not often think of the toil and process that speeds my food along from the farm to my table.  A goal every year for me is to live more intentionally.  This little guy reminds me to be more grateful for everything (not just food) that I take for granted.

2) I decided to make Gratitude Chicken male and not female.  This is because most male chicks in the egg industry are killed right away.  They cannot lay eggs and are seen as superfluous.  This is not something I had thought a lot about in the past.  A male Gratitude Chicken was an intentional choice on my part to remember that animals deserve humane treatment, and that the first step toward that humane treatment is being mindful of processes and decisions in our culture.

I have to say that I really like this little guy.  He makes me happy, even though he is a little silly-looking and not very representational of a real chicken.  But his modern look gives him a slightly startling appearance - and when I'm startled (in a good way), I snap myself back into an attitude of mindfulness and gratitude.  He's a great little reminder of something I want to work on more:  living a thankful life.

Alex closely supervised this project, which I completed when the robins had already hatched and the heavily scented wisteria blossoms had fallen to the ground.

I hope this tutorial helps you in your craft pursuits.  And I hope that if you make this little guy, he brings you as much happiness and positivity as he has brought to me.  I can't wait to make another Gratitude Chicken with different shorts.  If you make a chicken, please drop me a line here or at nicole (at) nicolettaarnolfini (dot) com and let me know how it went for you.


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