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Love Birds

Love Birds Needle Felted Cake Topper  - >> joeandcheryl.com <<

With my crazy work hours preparing for Fashion Week this past month, I havent been able to set aside enough time to work on my dress at all.  So I decided to start a new project that I could easily do in small doses here and there before I go to bed at night.  I’ve started my cake topper!!

Does this seem familiar to any of you?  Last year my friend Mary asked me to make her cake topper.  She was completely in love with those felt birdies that are so popular right now, and asked me to attempt to make a felt lovebird cake topper for her.  I had worked on various felt sewing projects before, although nothing as ambitious as what Mary wanted.  I always love a creative challenge and in the end, I was very happy with the results! They were stuffed birds made of felt fabric, blanket stitched together.  I loved them so much that I even used Mary’s pattern to make a gift bird ornament for each of my bridesmaids.

So I suppose this project grew from Mary’s.  The idea of lovebirds for a cake topper was something that I always had in mind for myself.  Sure its super trendy right now, but if you look back at my artwork from when I was young, I had a bit of an obsession with birds and flight even then.  So birds have always had meaning for me.  I think if I had never made Mary’s topper, mine would have looked a lot like hers.  But since I’m always so preoccupied with being different and trying new things, I decided to explore a new medium that I have always wanted to try.  Needle felting!!  I suppose this technique is still some form of felted wool, but it involves no sewing and is a little bit more of a tedious process.  Lets take a look at my very first needle felting attempt!

Love Birds Needle Felted Cake Topper  - >> joeandcheryl.com <<2

Above you can see two of the three major supplies that you need for needle felting – wool roving (which is basically loose strands of natural and dyed wool) and these special barbed needles (felting needles).  The third important supply is this thing called needle felting foam.  Its just a styrofoam block that is used as a work surface.  It gives you something to stab into without breaking your needles.  You’ll see it in some of the other images posted below.

Love Birds Needle Felted Cake Topper  - >> joeandcheryl.com <<

basic bird shape

Next I balled up some roving using the color that I wanted to use for the base, then continually stabbed it with the needle while shaping it. I continued to do this until it was finally able to hold its form.  Think of this kind of like a dread lock, its just a solid tangle of hair.  The more you stab it the harder it gets. But you want to be careful not to let it get too hard right away because it will become difficult to add details to it later.  Above you can see the basic bird shape that was formed – at this point its still pretty squishy.  Tip: the more needles you bundle together and use at once, the faster the process goes.  Use fewer for the small details.  Another tip: I read that for larger animals, you can use a ball of loosely wound yarn, or synthetic batting as a filler so that you don’t waste as much of your expensive wool roving.

Love Birds Needle Felted Cake Topper  - >> joeandcheryl.com <<

boy birdy with added details

Love Birds Needle Felted Cake Topper  - >> joeandcheryl.com <<

girl birdy with added details

Once the basic shape is formed, I added my color details and the beak.  For this you just lay shorter strands of wool on top and “needle” it in.  The coloration is inspired by sparrows, but I chose to make the girl a little lighter than a real female sparrow so that it would look slightly more bridal.

Love Birds Needle Felted Cake Topper  - >> joeandcheryl.com <<

creating the wings

Love Birds Needle Felted Cake Topper  - >> joeandcheryl.com <<

the wings firmly attached

Next I created the wings  and the tail by folding some wool strands in half and needling them on the foam surface until they were able to hold their shape. Then I simply laid them on top of the bird form and stabbed through them into the body to attach it.

Love Birds Needle Felted Cake Topper  - >> joeandcheryl.com <<

After I attached the wings and tail, I needled in additional details to bring them to life.  I also added black metal studs for the eyes. At this point the felted forms were becoming very solid, and it was getting harder and harder to stab in any more detail.

Love Birds Needle Felted Cake Topper  - >> joeandcheryl.com <<Love Birds Needle Felted Cake Topper  - >> joeandcheryl.com <<

Now that the bodies are done, its time to add feet!  I would have loved to put feet onto Mary’s birds, but I could not figure out how to insert them securly into the stuffed fabric.  These on the other hand are a solid mass of wool, so i just stabbed in three strands of floral wire into the same insertion point, but in opposing directions (to create stability).  Then I twisted them into the shape of bird feet and wrapped it with thick brown string.  Once they were wrapped, I coated the bottoms of the feet with clear fabric paint to make sure the string was secure.

Love Birds Needle Felted Cake Topper  - >> joeandcheryl.com <<

And here (above) we have the completed love birds!!  But that’s only 50% of the final cake topper I have in my head.  I plan to surround the birds with sort of a “field” of buttons and hand made fabric flowers – kind of like the picture below.  I’ll definitely write another post once I finish it =)

Love Birds Needle Felted Cake Topper  - >> joeandcheryl.com <<

And hopefully I’ll get to work on my dress soon too. I’ll have ALL DAY on presidents day!  Exciting!

EDIT:  Someone asked me if I was going to lay the buttons directly onto the cake.  Of course not!!  This is just showing what the birds look like surrounded by buttons.  I plan to have a base that the birds will stand on, and the buttons will be attached with floral wire and sheer fabric petals.  Think of a jcrew hairpiece or something.



32 comments to Love Birds

  • Jenni

    Love it! Rowen has a few of felted wool farm animals (from etsy of course:)) but she’s started eating them to right now they are on hold in the toy box. I was thinking about getting a kit …now I’m inspired!

  • Alice Lee

    Damn Cheryl, you’re like some sort of wonderwoman. Make this, sure thing, make that, no problem! Haha. I LOVE seeing the step by step process. You should have your TV Show!

  • monkey

    the heck!? u made birds?! they look so real! i can’t believe you made birds! you’re the ultimate diy bride!

  • Maresness

    WOW. it’s really beautiful!!

  • jean

    amazing! they look so sweet together

  • Jenn

    They’re too cute! I want to smash them! :)

  • glories

    they look REAL!! great job! my mom was looking at this blog w/ me and she was impressed :)

  • you should not stop blogging :) and just post your projects!!!! even after the wedding :D

  • Judy2

    Man.. these birds look amazing!! I want to buy one from you! hahaha

  • Love all the detail :) Keep on posting!

  • rebecca

    cheryl, u never cease to amaze me. u are so wonderfully gifted and talented! i love all ur projects!!! these birdies are ADORABLE. can i take them home after ur wedding? hahahahaha!

    i can’t wait to see how ur dress turns out!!!!!

  • susan

    these are so adorable. they will make such beautiful cake toppers! :)

  • Grace

    girl you are crazy. I LOVE the handmade details everywhere.

  • Sara

    These are the most realistic felted bird cake toppers I’ve seen. You look like a terribly busy woman, but I sure wish you had an Etsy shop!

  • cheryl

    Thank you!! that is very flattering. Maybe someday I will open an Etsy shop. Its something I’ve thought about doing for a long time. But I think until the wedding is over and until I find a new less time consuming job, there probably wouldn’t be enough time.

  • Ellen

    my goodness…. this is amazing!!! I don’t even like birds (have a fear) but these are so good! Martha Stewart should hire you Cheryl!

  • Chi

    ditto with ellen, you are giving martha stewart a run for her money!! btw, i was so excited about getting your save the date =) I remember you talking about it at nina and eric’s wedding and that you wanted to send them out already. love this blog!

  • Krystal

    wowwww, I am so amazed Cheryl!! these birds are absolutely adorable and looks so professionally made, I woulda believed you if you told me you bought them and paid a lot for them. You def need to open your own store!

  • Stephanie

    these are uber cute.

  • Priscilla Pan

    These are the cutest birds ever…and your comments are hilariously cute. It makes me feel more and more excited as we come closer, can’t wait to see all these details that have such a personal touch!

  • [...] Love Birds « Joe & Cheryl Needle felting!! I suppose this technique is still some form of felted wool, but it involves no sewing and is a little bit more of a tedious process. Lets take a look at my very first needle felting attempt! [...]

  • Lily

    I love the birds! Would you want to make some for my love bird themed wedding? Please let me know!

  • Helen Charlett

    Hi there,
    I am very very interested in buying a pair of these perfect little birds. Is this something you can do??? thanks

  • Wow! Lovley little birds. :) Fantastic!

  • Love them!!! I’ve done some needle felting after watching a video on YouTube and love your love birds.

  • [...] these love birds as their wedding cake topper back in 2010 and she made her own wedding dress. You can find a complete pictorial tutorial on their blog “Joe and Cheryl”!  Joe is a soon-to-be physical therapist and Cheryl, his wife is a designer (working in fashion) and [...]

  • Magali

    Adorables !!!
    Superbes !!!
    Bravo

  • Abby

    These are little works of art and seeing how you did them makes me want to give needle felting a go…they are lovely and i am sure they did or will look fabulous as your wedding cake topper. Thanks so much for sharing your incredible talent.

  • Thank you so much for sharing this photo tutorial. I have been curious about how the felting is done and your birds are absolutely adorable!

  • julie pearson

    Thank you SO much for sharing this! The birdies are just adorable!!!

  • Beautiful! I find your blog because I’m looking for a love birds topper cake… I would like to have them, they’re so cutie and perfect!:D

  • Sandra

    How did you attach the eyes? I am making felted birds with a grade 4/5 class and would love to you a bead for the eye, but don’t know the best way to attach it…
    Thanks!

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