Ornamental Separator

Avian Artistry

Creative inspiration flies on the wing of a lovingly stitched family heirloom

Three sisters-in-law worked together to make a detailed quilt that was cherished by their family for generations.

Julia Engel Danner, Deborah Ecker Danner and Eve Danner created this quilt before the birth of Julia and Henry Danner’s first child in April 1856. The appliquéd quilt is signed and dated in ink: “Julia A Danner / Feb 14th / 1856”. The quilt descended through the family line of Deborah and Daniel Danner before the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg purchased it in 1979.

The 16-block quilt features a variety of floral designs interspersed with other shapes and objects, such as the bird that inspired this ornament project. One block shows an open book with an inked verse from the Bible, Ecclesiastes 12:1: “Remember now thy / Creator in the days / of thy youth, while / the evil days come / not, nor the years / draw nigh, when thou / shalt salt [sic] say, I have / no pleasure in them.”

To start stitching your own version of this hoop art, download the template at colonialwilliamsburg.org/downloads


Ribbon, 16-Inch Length

1 Black Bead, 8/0




Embroidery Floss

4-Inch Wooden Embroidery Hoop and 6½-Inch Diameter Cotton Fabric


Bird Template


Step 1

Center the 6½-inch cotton fabric on the inner hoop. Place the outer hoop on top and tighten.

Step 2

Using the template, cut all shapes from felt scraps. Pin bird, beak and branch in place. Stitch the pinned pieces in place using your favorite embroidery stitch. We used two strands of floss and the blind stitch. Remove pins.

Step 3

Stitch the wing onto the bird. To attach the bird’s legs, fold the long rectangular piece into a V shape and stitch into place. Set the leaves in place and attach with three small stitches at the top of each. Stitch on the bead for the eye.

Step 4

Turn the hoop over and use a running stitch around the excess cotton fabric. To gather the edges, pull the thread and tie off.

Step 5

Tie the ribbon at the top of the hoop for hanging. Note: If you would like to cover the back of your completed hoop art, hot glue a 4-inch felt circle to the back of the hoop.

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