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Spring finally arrived in Montreal where I am located at the moment. The trees in full bloom brought back scores of bird that I am very eager to observe when I am working at my desk and looking out through the window. In an attempt to make my balcony more inviting I designed those leather bird feeders.

I also wanted to use this opportunity to experiment with different layouts for the pattern. Through my tutorials and patterns, I would like to offer you an experience as convenient as possible and this is an evolving process that I would like to base on your feedback.

The question I would like to ask you here is the following:

Do you prefer

  • patterns that are printed on regular paper and taped to the leather; the holes are then made directly on top of the paper and so are the cuts (option 1).
  • or patterns that are printed on card-stock paper, then cut and used to trace around the different elements with an awl to mark the leather directly (option 2).

I created two slightly different versions of the same bird feeder idea in order to give you a concrete example to try out.

  • Option 1 is saddle stitched using tabs on one of the edges in each pair of opposing edges. The pattern is designed to be printed on regular paper and the walk-through reflects that approach.
  • Option 2 is cross stitched so the tabs have been removed in order to stitch edge to edge. The pattern is designed to be printed on card-stock and the walk-though has been updated accordingly.

Requirements


Skills

Tools

  • 2, 2.5, 3.5, 5 mm hole punches
  • 1x5mm stitching prong / 1mm hole punch
  • Scissors and X-Acto knife
  • Awl and/or stitching chisels
  • 2 leather stitching needles
  • Hammer or mallet

Bill of Materials

  • 4 to 6 oz hot stuffed veg tanned leather
  • Thread
  • Bamboo skewers diameter=5mm

Pattern

The pattern PDF is available for purchase on etsy.

A word about the leather used

The leather I am using for this project is a bit special as it has to be able to withstand being outdoors all the time. This is achieved by soaking the veg tanned leather in melted beeswax which will make it waterproof and weatherproof. It will also harden it which suits the shape of this design really well since it allows the polygons of the construction to resist deformation.

I discovered wax hardening/hot stuffing during the process of prototyping this project and I do not feel especially comfortable sharing my hot stuffing “technique” since it does not seem especially safe. However I do feel comfortable sharing this playlist of videos that might put you in the right direction!

Walk-through – Option 1


Printing and cutting the pattern

You can find the pattern here.

Print it pattern on US letter or A4 paper depending on the version you downloaded and roughly cut-out around the pieces of the project.

Make sure that the pattern is not resized by checking your print settings. You can check if it was printed properly by measuring the reference found at the bottom of each page.


Preparing the leather pieces

Position all the pieces of the printed pattern on your leather and trace their outline either with a pen or with an awl. No need to be precise here.

Cut-out all the pieces that you traced.

Eventually tape the pattern pieces to their corresponding leather piece.


Punching the holes

Use stitching prongs or a hole punch to punch the holes for all the pieces.

The holes for the perches are marked as 3.5mm. I made them 1.5mm smaller than the diameter of my skewers so that the perches would be held firmly. You can adjust that according to the kind of bamboo skewers you will be using.


Cutting-out the pieces of the project

Using an X-Acto knife, cut-out all the pieces of the project.


Stitching it all together

This option is stitched using a regular saddle stitch. Almost every pair of edges that will be stitched to each other are designed so that one edge possesses a tab that will slide under the opposite edge where the stitching holes will match up. So the tab always goes underneath the opposite straight edge.

We start by stitching the top of the upper dome (pattern element A) to the 5 side panels (pattern elements B) along the edges denoted B1 on the pattern.

Next stitch the sides of the 5 side panels (pattern elements B) of the upper dome, stitching along the edges B2, B3, B4 and B5.

When the upper dome is stitched, insert the hanger (pattern element C) into the two holes of element A. You can round the tips between your finger to help you insert them. Then unfold them on the other side to secure the hanger.

Stitch the washers to the lower side panels, one on opposite side of the hole where the perch will be inserted.

Stitch the bottom of the lower dome to the 5 lower side panels along the edges denoted D1 on the pattern.

Then stitch the sides of the 5 side panels (pattern elements D) of the lower dome, stitching along the edges D2 and D3.

Now to join the upper and lower domes. Use the 5 hinges G to connect upper panel B to a lower panel D along the edges B6 and D4 respectively.


Setting-up the perches

To make the perches cut 5 segments of bamboo skewer. I chose to cut mine around 2.5 inches (7cm).

Sand the splintering ending smooth if need be and insert them in the holes around which we stitched the washers earlier.


Final result

That’s it for option 1 of this pattern! Let’s see how to build the second option. Don’t miss out on the bonus section where I’ll introduce a variation that can be applied to option 1 and 2 as well as a free funnel pattern that can be used to fill the bird feeders more conveniently.


Walk-through – Option 2


Printing and cutting the pattern

You can find the pattern here.

Print it on US letter or A4 paper depending on the version you downloaded and cut-out the pieces of the project.

Make sure that the pattern is not resized by checking your print settings. You can check if it was printed properly by measuring the reference found at the bottom of each page.

Print on card-stock paper to make it easier to trace the shape on the leather.


Tracing the outline of the pattern onto the leather

Using an awl, trace the outline of the pattern pieces onto the leather.

Don’t forget to mark the positions of the holes that we will need to punch through later on.

Checklist of all the pieces to trace:

  • A x1
  • B x5
  • C x1
  • D x5
  • E x10
  • F x1
  • G x5


Cutting-out the pieces of the project

Using an X-Acto knife, cut-out all the pieces of the project.


Punching the holes

Use stitching prongs or a hole punch to punch the holes for all the pieces using the marks that you left earlier as a guide to position them.


Stitching it all together

This option is stitched using a cross-stitch.

We start by stitching the top of the upper dome (pattern element A) to the 5 side panels (pattern elements B) along the edges denoted B1 on the pattern.

Next stitch the sides of the 5 side panels (pattern elements B) of the upper dome, stitching along the edges B2, B3, B4 and B5.

When the upper dome is stitched, insert the hanger (pattern element C) into the two holes of element A. You can round the tips between your finger to help you insert them. Then unfold them on the other side to secure the hanger.

Stitch the washers to the lower side panels, one on opposite side of the hole where the perch will be inserted.

Stitch the bottom of the lower dome to the 5 lower side panels along the edges denoted D1 on the pattern.

Then stitch the sides of the 5 side panels (pattern elements D) of the lower dome, stitching along the edges D2 and D3.

Now to join the upper and lower domes. Use the 5 hinges G to connect upper panel B to a lower panel D along the edges G1 and G2 respectively.


Setting-up the perches

To make the perches cut 5 segments of bamboo skewer. I chose to cut mine around 2.5 inches (7cm).

Sand the splintering ending smooth if need be and insert them in the holes around which we stitched the washers earlier.


Final result

That’s it for option 2! If you’re still here, please bear with me a little longer as I’ll explain what the pieces H of the pattern are for and give you the link for a free pattern of a seed funnel.


Bonus – A third variation + free funnel pattern


After making the first prototype for this bird feeder I found it rather difficult to fill it up directly from the bag of seeds which led me to think about a possible solution. What you will find below are two ideas that came out of this process.

A third variation: using snap-buttons

If the bag of seeds doesn’t fit the opening of the bird feeder conveniently, why not make it so that the top can be separated from the bottom in order to make filling easier?

This is what the mysterious pieces marked H on the pattern are for. They are used to connect the upper and lower panels B and D with snap buttons instead of stitching.

This variation can be used for both option 1 and option 2.


A funnel to fill the bird feeder

Another way I found to make my bird feeder filling experience more enjoyable has been to design this funnel which is very convenient to scoop seeds from the bag and drop them in the cup of the feeder through the openings.

The free pattern is available here. Enjoy!

Footnotes

The following online content provided some assistance and/or inspiration during the making of this project:


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