I was looking for a hen pattern and found this one for a potholder, actually called a panholder, on Flickr. It makes a small hen that is about 7″ long and 5″ high:
Creating the pieced look:
I took the main outline and divided it into segments where I could use different calico patterns and colors for more of a pieced look, and I added side pockets for the wings where a few little chicks could be tucked in.
Creating the flat bottom:
Most importantly, because this is a 2D pattern and I’m not creating a potholder, you need to create a bottom piece so the stuffed hen can stand on its own. I made a bunch of ducks years ago from a craft pattern, so I pretty much know what that piece should look like. It should be a long oval with either rounded or pointed ends that goes along the bottom of the animal from front to back, not too far in either way, just at the bottom.
You need to flatten the bottom edge of the hen, either before you cut any pieces or after you decide how you want it to sit, or your hen will rock instead of sit. I’m cutting from the front side seam where the neck meets the body to a little past the back side seam where the tail begins. Any farther forward, and the hen would lean forward. I cut the bottom just before the hen sides were sewn together:
I measured the length of the bottom space and added an extra inch on each end to allow for seam allowances and for fidgeting it around until it fits. The curved sides of the bottom oval are about the same as the length of the opening, and I also noted that my ducks have a dart at the back of the ovals. It became obvious that I needed a dart in mine when I went to pin it on. I created my dart when the piece was pinned in place:
Be prepared to cut and re-cut the pattern piece until you get one that is long enough and wide enough to be flat—too wide and it will just turn into a ball. Actually, I made a trial hen and that helped.
The Comb and Wattle:
I went round and round on how to create these pieces. I thought about using fabric, as the pattern suggests, but then it seemed like felt would look better. I tried doubling the pieces, cutting them with pinking shears and topstitching them, but it was too bulky. I tried a number of colors, such as the orange of the beak, but ended up with a single layer of red felt. I cut around the seam allowance for a larger comb. I didn’t like the original shape or angle of the pattern wattle, so I freehand drew more of a teardrop shape.
- Sew the pieces of each side together, including the beak pieces—I topstiched mine on each side first so they were part of each finished side. If you haven’t cut the bottom curve into a flat bottom, do that now and then create the bottom oval piece.
- Finish the wings and topstitch around the bottom onto each hen side, pinning the pocket so they are not flat against the bird, but are curved a little to be open for holding toys or candy.
- Baste the comb and wattle in place and pin out of way before sewing each side together, beginning and ending at the seam allowances at the bottom, so you can fit in the bottom piece.
- Decide where you want the opening to be for stuffing. I’m putting mine at one of the bottom side edges. Pin in the bottom all around, creating a large dart at the back. Stitch the dart. Stitch one side of the bottom between the seam allowances. Stitch the beginning and end of the other bottom side, leaving at least a two-inch opening for stuffing.
- Stuff tightly and hand sew the opening with a blind or buttonhole stitch. Embroider or sew on button for eyes (mine are sewn on in the bottom photo).
There are several sizes of the image on Flickr, and you could choose one of the larger ones and print it out over a few sheets of paper for a larger hen.
On to the chick finger puppets:
Measure around your finger or your child’s finger for the general size and shape, a cylinder rounded at the top. You can cut in a little wattle or feather shape at the very top or you can sew in such pieces in an alternate color. The puppets can be sewn on the machine or by hand. Facial features, like beaks and eyes, can be embroidered or sewn on. From pictures on Pinterest, I see that some people make yellow chicks and some white; here’s what I did:
1. Cut a rectangle 1.5″ x 2.5″ and round off one end. Cut two of yellow felt with pinking shears for each finger puppet.
2. Cut orange beak in a diamond shape, yellow wings 1 3/8″ x 7/8″ rounded, and yellow top feather piece 1 1/2″ x 1/2″ with each end clipped in the center.
3. Hand or machine sew beak in place.
4. Embroider eyes with black thread.
5. Pin back and front together, catching in folded wings and feather piece folded slightly unevenly.
6. Stitch around, catching in folded wings and feather piece.