Owl Quilt Tutorial

The Owl QuiltWhere's the owl?

So here is the owl quilt.  Peek-a-boo!  (You can see a few more pictures of it here.)  I’m really happy with how it turned out.  Thanks to The Husband who gave my owl sketch a few tweaks to give it super-cute status.  I created this quilt from a 2-1/2 inch strip set and a fat quarter set of the Golden Afternoon collection from Connecting Threads.  I also tea-dyed white muslin for the center.  The back is made up of fat quarters also from the Golden Afternoon collection and various scraps from the front.

Fabric Requirements:

  • 1 (one) 2-1/2 inch strip set – you can cut your own strips if you like.  If you do, you’ll need 9 dark and 9 light strips from a variety of fabrics (for the scrappy look) or just two fabrics (for the checkerboard look)
  • 5-7 fat quarters, 4 of them in owlish colors (gold for the head, off-white for the eyes, brown for the brow and wings, and orange for the belly) the rest for the backing.
  • 24-1/2 x 24-1/2 inch square of muslin (tea-dyed, if you like)  (Note – I originally had the wrong dimensions here –
  • at least 152 inches of binding – I usually cut mine 2-1/2 inches wide.  I used one 2-1/2 inch strip and a fat quarter of the same color and that was enough to bind this quilt.
  • 2 small buttons for eyes
  • freezer paper
  • applique glue (I use Roxanne’s glue baste-it)
  • the usual quilting accouterments
  • The owl patterns – download and print the overall guideline, part 1, and part 2

Step 0) If you want to tea-dye muslin for your center: in a dutch oven (i.e., a big pot) fill the pot an inch or two below the top edge of the pot with water and boil.  You want it to be full but you also want room to stuff your fabric in there.  When the water boils, add the tea bags and let it brew for 5-10 minutes.  I used 6 regular old Lipton’s tea bags.  Turn off the heat and remove the tea bags.  I took my fabric and twisted it into a ball.  I wanted my fabric to be somewhat mottled and uneven and twisting it prevents full absorption of the tea.  Put your fabric ball into the tea and push it down with a spoon as best you can so that it is totally submerged.  Stir it every three or four minutes but not too hard because you don’t want your ball to fall apart.  After 10-15 minutes, pour off as much of the tea as you can and squeeze the excess tea out of your fabric.  (Careful!  Don’t burn yourself.)  The fabric might look pretty evenly dyed but the washing machine will fix that.  Throw the fabric in your washer (use the mini cycle if you have one.)  Wash it with cold water and your regular detergent.  Then dry it on the hot cycle in your dryer to set the color.  Press when almost dry.  Tada!  Beautiful tea-dyed fabric.

tea-dying in a pot on the stove

Step 1) Sort your strips into lights and darks.

Step 2) Make six strip sets.  Three should have a light-dark-light pattern to the sets, and three should be dark-light-dark pattern.  Like so:

Press towards the dark fabrics.

Step 3) Cut all six strip sets across the stripes into 2-1/2 inch pieces.

Step 4) Sort the pieces from step 3 into two piles – one for light-dark-light, one for dark-light-dark.  I put my pieces into paper bags and grabbed pieces randomly.

Step 5) Sew 20 nine-patch checkerboards from the pieces in step 4.  Put them right sides together and match the seams.  You’ll want to make 10 with the dark patches in the corners and 10 with the light patches in the corners:

Notice that I used some mid-colors as well.  I think that charged up the randomness.

Step 6) Press the new seams towards the strips with more dark pieces in it.

Step 7) Sew a dark checkerboard to a light checkerboard, right sides together and matching seams.  Press towards the dark checkerboard.  Sew the remaining 9 pairs of checkerboards in the same fashion.  From these pieces, form the borders. The top and bottom borders can be created with 2 pairs (a total of 4 nine-patches).  The side borders are created with 3 pairs (a total of 6 nine-patches).  Press towards the darker checkerboard.

Step 8 ) Time to whip us up an owl!  Fold the 24-1/2 inch square in half and in half again, finger-pressing the fold at the center to mark the center.  Open up the fabric and lay it face up on top of the owl pattern guideline.  Match up the center you just marked with the center cross-hatch marks on the belly of the owl.  You can tape it to a window or use a light box if you cannot see the marks on the pattern through the fabric.  Using a chalk marker (or some other washout marker) trace the owl pattern guideline onto the fabric.

Step 9) Trace the owl pattern pieces onto the dull (non-plastic) side of the freezer paper and cut the paper out on the marked lines.

Step 10) Iron the freezer paper patterns (plastic side down) onto the right side of the fabric you’ve chosen for your owl pieces.  With a chalk marker (or other marker you prefer) trace around the pattern pieces on the fabric.  These are the lines you will applique with.  Cut the pieces out leaving a barely 1/4 inch seam allowance.  Clip the curves, being careful not to clip into the marked lines.

Step 11) Following the guidelines you marked in step 8, position the owl body with the right side of the fabric up on the right side of the center piece.  Use applique glue or your preferred method to hold the piece in place and applique the body down using needle turn applique on the lines drawn in step 10.  Do not applique the neck of the owl – the fabric of the head will overlap it.  I remove the paper to applique but if you want to use it as a visual guide you can leave it there until the piece is appliqued.

Step 12) Imagine that the wing of the owl is your arm.  Sew two wings right side together, leaving the shoulder end of the wing unsewn.  Clip around the point and turn right side out and press.  Repeat for the other wing.  Position each wing on the body, again following the guidelines.  The open (shoulder) edge of the wing should be inside the lines of the owl head.  Machine sew the shoulder ends of the wing down.  Make sure the sewn seam is also inside the guidelines for the owl head.

Step 13) Position the eyes and beak on the owl head.  Glue or pin them in place and applique them down, again using needleturn applique and the lines drawn in step 10.

Step 14) Position and glue the owl head on the body, following the guidelines.  Applique it down all the way around except for the space between the ears where the brow will overlap.  When I stitched over the wings, I appliqued through all layers.

Step 15) Position and glue the owl’s brow on the owl head, following the guidelines.  Applique it down all of the way around.

Step 16) Sew the top and bottom borders on the center.  Sew the side borders on.

Step 17) Piece together your fat quarters and some scraps from the front to create a backing that is at least 40 x 40 inches.  I made each fat quarter a rough quadrant and added some of the nine-patch leftovers to give it some interest, and a few plain 2-1/2 inch strips as well.  Be creative!  I liked how it used up some of my scraps.

The back is pieced from scrap pieces and fat quarters

Step 18) Layer, baste, and quilt as desired.  To get the look on my quilt: meander quilt around the open area of the center.  On the owl itself I quilted random loop-de-loops in loose rows to look sort of like feathers.  I did a series of small loops on the owls brow, not as close together and not as random.  Around the owl’s eyes I made lines that radiated out, sort of like how a child might draw rays of sunlight emanating from the sun.  I did not break the thread – i.e, I radiated out, then back in, then out, in, etc. until I’d made a semi-circle around an eye.  Then I repeated on the other eye.  On the nine patches I quilted each square corner-to-corner.  It ends up resembling an argyle pattern.

Step 19) Machine sew the binding to the front, wrap it around to the back and hand-sew down.  Attach your button eyes & label.


Copyright 2011 Kelley Koszegi

Please note – I am not compensated in any form by the companies that I mentioned above.

PS – if you would like a chance to win a kit to create this quilt yourself, hop on over to episode 30 and leave a comment telling me what you are grateful for!  You can also get a second entry by subscribing to my blog feed and leaving me a comment that you are a subscriber.

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3 Responses to Owl Quilt Tutorial

  1. Corinne says:

    Great tutorial Kelley!

  2. Pingback: Tutorial: Peek-a-boo owl quilt · Quilting | CraftGossip.com

  3. I love quilts!! Thanks for auditioning for OMTWI!!

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