Cardinal decoration, hanging cardinal, paper cardinal


Hanging Cardinal

Every winter when everything is covered in snow I catch red flashes in the trees surrounding our house. It’s always fleeting but red cardinal feathers are so bright they’re hard to miss. I’ve read stories about cardinals being messengers from loved ones who have passed, and I just love this belief. They’re like guardian angels, protecting the people they’ve left behind.

So here is my version of the cardinal, perpetually in flight, hovering and watching over us. Hang it in front of a window so the sunlight can catch that brilliant red. Or make smaller versions of it so you can use it as a Christmas tree ornament.

Cardinal close up
DIY Cardinal as Christmas tree ornaments
cardinal in snowflakes wreath, hanging cardinal and hanging wreath
Cardinal hanging inside a wreath made with my DIY Snowflakes

Click here to purchase the cardinal design and scroll down for the tutorial.

❊❊❊ UPDATE MAY 2021 ❊❊❊

A video tutorial of this Cardinal is now available on my YouTube channel. Click below to watch:

If you missed it above, here is a link to purchase the Cardinal design files. Follow along with the tutorial below when you’re ready to make your Cardinal. If you’ve already made my Hanging Dove you’ll be familiar with some of the steps in this tutorial.

Here is the original step-by-step photo tutorial:

✻✻✻ Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. I’m trying to avoid having ads on my site so if it’s a product you were planning on purchasing anyway, please consider purchasing through my links. I really appreciate your support ! ✻✻✻ 


Cardinal Design Files
Cutting Machine
Cardstock Paper – Red, Black and Orange
Double-Sided Tape With Lining
X-Acto Knife or any sharp point
Clear String

Step 1: Cut two cardinals and two of each head part

With your cutting machine, cut out two cardinals and two of each part of the cardinal’s head. In your download the SVG in the Cardinal Cut Files folder is the file you can use to cut your cardinal. Make sure that if you duplicate the pieces for cutting and you’re using paper that is one-sided, flip the duplicate over so it’s a mirror image of the first.

DIY Cardinal cutouts
Cardinal cutouts

Step 2: Glue Cardinal’s beak onto head

You’ll be doing the next few steps two times, but mirror images of each other, because we want to end up with two cardinals that we attach together to create our final cardinal.

To start, put some glue on the beak area of the cardinal’s head. You should see a slight divot on the top of the beak area—use this divot and the point where the beak area meets the cardinal’s neck to determine your glue area (see arrows on left side of image below). Then take your beak and line up the top corner of the beak with the divot and the bottom corner of the beak with the edge of the cardinal’s neck. Take notice of the way the beak is positioned: the slight bump is near the bottom and the beak is curving downwards.

Gluing cardinal beak to head

This is how your beak should look once you’ve glued it onto the head.

cardinal beak
Beak on cardinal

Step 3: Glue grey circle to black piece

For this step you can do two pieces at once. Take both your black pieces, which is the black feather on the cardinal’s neck, and place them side by side making sure they are mirror images of each other. Then put some glue around the hole.

black feather pieces
Black feather pieces with glue

Now take a grey circle and place it over the hole, making sure to cover the hole completely since this will be your cardinal’s eye.

Gluing eye piece
Place grey circle over hole in black piece

You should end up with two pieces like this:

Back side of black feather pieces of cardinal
Back side of black feather pieces

When you flip them over they should look like this:

Front side of black feather pieces
Front side of black feather pieces

Step 4: Glue black piece onto head

For this step take the same black piece as the one in the image below, and flip it over to the same side on which you glued on the grey circle. Apply glue to the top half. You can cover the whole piece with glue but this way you have a clean, glue-free part to handle.

Black feather piece with glue

Turn the piece over and place it onto the cardinal’s head, next to the beak. It should nestle nicely around the beak.

Attaching black feather piece to  head
Place black feather piece up against cardinal’s beak

Here is the finished head:

Finished head

Now repeat step 2 and step 4 with your other cardinal cutout, so you should end up with two cardinals that are mirror images of each other.

Two finished cardinals

Step 5: Tape two cardinals together

Take one of your cardinals and flip it over to the back side. Cut two pieces of double sided tape and place one along the wing fold line and the other along the tail fold line. Don’t worry about cutting the tape pieces to the exact length as the fold lines, just a general match will do.

Double sided tape on fold lines
Place double sided tape on fold lines of cardinal

Then add more tape to the rest of the cardinal’s body. Make sure you cover the narrow areas of the beak and the feathers at the top of the head. I did this with triangular tape pieces.

Cardinal body covered in double sided tape
Cover rest of cardinal with tape

Now align your second cardinal on top of the one with the tape. Try to match all corners and edges.

Align two cardinals
Align two cardinals together

Once you have the two cardinals aligned, hold them down while opening up the top cardinal’s tail to reveal the tape underneath. Using an x-acto knife or any sharp object, reach in to remove the tape liner. Then release the top tail and press down to secure the two cardinals together.

Removing tape lining from tail
Open tail to reveal tape underneath

Now that the two cardinals are attached, open the rest of the cardinal to remove the liners on all the tape pieces. Then press the two cardinals together.

Remove all liners from cardinal's body
Remove all liners to attach rest of cardinal together

Step 6: Tie string

Thread your hanging string through the cardinal’s hanging loop.

Loop string through hole
Loop string through hole

If you’re using monofilament like in my images, I recommend tying three knots. Monofilament will sometimes unravel so the three knots are extra security. Also make sure to pull your knots nice and tight, but be careful not to pull too tightly that you rip through the paper.

Tie knot in string
Tie knots in your string

If you want a bit of curl in your cardinal’s tail you can run your fingers along the tail feathers, gently pulling outwards as you get to the ends.

How to curl to your cardinal’s tail

That was the last step, your cardinal is done!

Cardinal hanging by window

Questions? Email me at I hope you enjoy this one!

4 thoughts on “Cardinal

    1. Hi Kelly, Just following up to see if you received my email from May 29th? Let me know if you are still having issues with the Cardinal file. Thank you!

Leave a Reply