Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Ostrich Head Tutorial

Today's tutorial will show how to make this ostrich head. That said, I'm not really planning on making a quilt with disembodied ostrich heads. Typically, I design a block and then make lots of them in a variety of patterns and colors. I figure out the layout for the blocks after I have lots of blocks.

In this case, however, I have a rough concept for the quilt where the ostrich heads interlock. This means I can't build them one at a time. That said, I also don't know what the final quilt will look like. I envision graphic stripes, but my ideas are still evolving as I make this quilt. So we'll see...

In any case, the components for each ostrich are very straight forward, and at least at this point, I can show you how to construct the ostrich head.

For an ostrich head, you will want five fabrics. Because I am made lots of heads, I cut full strips of each size described below.

1.  A very dark color, like black, for the pupil.   (1.5 inch strip)
2.  A background fabric (I am using a very light fabric).   (1.5 inch strip, 2.5 inch strip)
3.  The ostrich color (dark grey).  (1.5 inch strip, 2.5 inch strip, 3.5 inch strip)
4.  The top part of the ostrich beak (lightest gray) (1.5 inch strip, 2.5 inch strip)
5.  The bottom part of the ostrich beak (medium gray)  (1.5 by 3.5 inch rectangle)

First, I should mention that I'm working on a much larger scale than usual and the finished ostrich head as shown is 9 inches by 12 inches (or longer). I am working with 1.5 inch strips that finish to one inch.

I start with the eyes and sew two ostrich color (dark grey) 1.5 inch strips on either side of the black pupil strip (also 1.5 inches). I then cut the strip set into 2.5 inch chunks so the rectangle is 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches. Next, I take another 1.5 inch gray strip and sew it to the top and bottom. Since these are the ostriches eyes, you probably want to make two of them.

Before we make some adjustments to the ostrich eyes, let's review what I call the flip triangle. Place a small square in the corner of the larger square, right sides facing. Sew along the diagonal--a thread's width away from the true diagonal toward the corner. This gives you room to iron the flap toward the corner. Iron the flap to the corner. You now have two gray triangle layers on top of the background layer. You want to cut away the bottom two layers leaving a quarter inch from the sewn diagonal. And there you have a flip triangle.

For the ostrich eye sections, add flip triangles to opposite corners of each eye. Each eye will have a 1.5 inch square of the background fabric and a 2.5 inch square of the upper beak fabric. For the left eye, put the small background flip triangle in the upper left corner and the beak in the lower right corner. For the right eye, put the small background flip triangle in the upper right corner and the beak in the lower left corner.

For the next step, we make the ostrich's chin. First, take a 1.5 by 3.5 inch rectangle of the lower beak color. Attach two 1.5 inch squares of the ostrich color (dark grey) to make flip triangles in the lower corners of the rectangle. Then attach this rectangle to a 2.5 by 3.5 inch rectangle of the ostrich color. You now have an ostrich chin. Hey wait...what you also have is a kitten head! Gross!

 To make the bridge of the ostrich's beak, sew two 2.5 inch strips, one of the ostrich color (dark grey) and one of the ostrich beak color. From this strip set, cut a 1.5 inch section. (You would only do this if you were making lots of ostrich heads in the same colors. Otherwise, sew two 1.5 by 2.5 inch rectangles of each color together along the short end to make a 1.5 by 4.5 inch rectangle.)

If you are making a single ostrich head, you will make the ostrich's cheeks by attaching a 2.5 inch square of the ostrich color (dark grey) to a 3.5 inch square of the background fabric to make a flip triangle. Make two of these. Then attach them to either side of the chin piece (that is, kitten head).

Also, sew the eyes to either side of the beak bridge. Then sew a 1.5 inch strip to either side of the ostrich head.

The top head piece will now be 4.5 inches by 9.5 inches. The lower chin section will be the same size so you can sew them together.

Finally, sew 3.5 inch strips of the background fabric to either side of a 3.5 inch strip of the ostrich color (dark grey). How long you make this depends on how long you want the neck to be. Because I am interlocking the ostrich heads, I cut a 4.5 inch section from the three strips.

Hmmm...given that I don't know how this quilt is going to turn out...is this another mystery quilt?


  1. Ooooo! Gotta love a mystery quilt that's a mystery even to the designer! You're good!
    I never realized how much I want an ostrich quilt until you showed this one...

  2. I love the head but think I will wait and see where you go with this one. You are so talented. Thanks for sharing. Happy New Year.

  3. Your ostrich is very cute! I love your grey fabric. I am currently designing an elephant block. It is harder than I thought it would be.

  4. You've obviously been on an ostrich hunt!! Adorable!

  5. Last month we found out we were having a boy grand baby....I think he might just need an ostrich quilt! From the odd grandmother, you,know.