3 Dimensional applique – burlap and bird tote

polyfil stuffed bird tote

polyfil stuffed bird tote

3 Dimensional applique – burlap and bird tote

I don’t know about you, but I can’t seem to get enough of birds and burlap. When I created a set of wool felt bird clips and wedding table markers, I immediately fell in love with them and decided that I had to see them on some burlap totes.   I cam upon a   Indigo Tie Dye kit, which I played with this past Saturday. 

Suddenly, I knew that I had to combine the three elements wool felt birds, burlap and indigo. This is a project that makes me happy.


Dimensional applique tutorial

With plenty of dyed indigo scraps left over from my bird pillow project. I carefully tore some 2 1/2″ thick strips from one of the fabrics to create “ribbons.”

indigo dye strips

I used a sewing machine and contrasting thread (because I like this look) to straight stitch down the center and create knife pleats. This will be the handles and cuff for the bag.

ruffled fabric strips

Now, lets move on to the burlap bag itself. I decided on the size of my tote, which is about 5″ x 6″ and added 1/2″ for a seam allowance. Then I fused Lite Steam a Seam to a 4″ x 5″ rectangle of dyed indigo fabric and cut a 3 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ rectangle from that. Fuse the rectangle to the center of one of the burlap rectangles.

indigo dye on burlap

Machine stitch the fused square in place on the burlap by peeling off the paper backing and using a straight stitch about 1/4″ from the edges of the indigo fabric. The bird itself was cut from my all time favorite Sizzix Die and BigShot machine. I cut it from white wool felt.

easy sew bird tote

Pinning the bird in place on the indigo rectangle, sew in place with a straight stitch, leaving the bottom open for stuffing.

3 dimensional applique

Stuff the bird with polyfil fiber (lightly) and sew opening closed with the machine.

Now, embellish the bird with a stuffed wing, a pretty flower center, and a scrap of burlap. Don’t forget to add a pebble bead eye.

polyfil stuffed dimensional applique

Repeat the same steps for the wing and either glue on or hand sew on. Now it’s time to sew the front and back pieces of the bag together. Do this by turning the rights sides in and sew 1/2″ from the edges. Steam the seams open with an iron on steam setting.  Turn the bag right sides out.

Use Aleenes Fabric Fusion to glue the knife pleated cuff to the top of the bag, covering the raw burlap edge. Cut pieces of knife pleated “ribbon” to lengths measuring approximately 6″ and glue to the inside of the bag. Use a needle and thread, plus pretty flower centers to sew in place.

For a unique handle, cut a 1/2″ dowel rod to 8.” Use Neopaque by Jacquard Products in brown to paint the dowel.  Insert the rod into the handles and sew in place to secure.

The combination of burlap, white wool felt and hand dyed indigo makes a striking statement. It gets and added boost with the 3 dimensional appliqué technique.  My mind is already at work thinking of fun ways to use the rest of my hand dyed indigo fabric!


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