What NOT To Do When You’re Quilting (Or: Destroying The Owl Quilt)

This is the sort of post that I never ever ever want to make. But SOMEONE (me) thought it would be a good idea to sign the Process Pledge, so I guess I have to chronicle this.

I started quilting my sister’s owl quilt. I was super excited to be finalizing the project. I looked into having a pro quilt it for me, but, partially to save money and partially for bragging rights, I decided to just quilt it myself.

It was going way better than I expected. The top was a little more poofy than I expected, but ok, no problem.

The stitching wasn’t *great*, but it was waaaaaaay better than my first attempt at free-motion quilting! I’ll just admit… I was pretty proud of myself.

Until I turned my quilt over.

Here’s what I have to “brag” about:

Don’t really see a problem? Let’s look a little closer, shall we?

Oh yeah. That’s a foot-long fold in my backing. And it’s not the only one, there are little folds all over the place, this is just the worst of it. I can fit my finger through the tunnel, so I know I’ve got a good two inches folded over. I’m pretty disappointed.

So, the only option I really have is to take out ALL… THOSE… STITCHES. And do it all over again. This is a problem for a few reasons. 1. That’s a lot of work. 2. I’m going to have HOLES all over my quilt. 3. I don’t want to do it.

But Alex and I are going to watch some TV in bed, and I guess I’ll be curling up with my ruined quilt and my new best friend, Seam Ripper.

WIP: Postage Stamp Quilt (Cutting and Calculating!)


Isn’t this project supposed to be a scrap-buster? What am I doing bringing new fabrics into this house??

I cleaned out my tiny scraps and had only 450 of my proposed 4096 squares. And I get a little impatient sometimes, and do impulsive things. I went to Joann’s looking for Thomas fabric for a birthday gift. I didn’t find any Thomas the Train, but I did find LOTS of fabrics that would look great in my postage stamp quilt.

My rationality: I planned on getting a few fat quarters. But it occurred to be me that 4 fat quarters would come out to $8. so, why shouldn’t I just get lots of 1/8 and 1/16 cuts of lots of fabrics for the same price? Yes, this is very sound logic indeed.

But it turned out to be a great choice. For $5.50 I got 13 different fabrics (just over 1.25 yards) as opposed to 4 for $8 (1 yard).

I loved all the fabrics I chose, but I was really excited about a few. This green fabric was around 60% off because it was a St. Patrick’s Day print. Awesome!!!

Novelty fabrics were 30% off so I threw in some mushrooms and owls! (BTW, somewhere along the line, I decided this quilt is definitely for me. I’m apparently not interested in sharing a “Big Hug”.)

I fussy-cut the owls, which is something I’ve always wanted to do! But, as they were almost 2 inches tall, they’ll still get a little cut off at the edges.

So I’ve been cutting up a storm, between other projects, “cleaning” (ha!), and going to birthday parties (2 this weekend). And I’ve now reached 1104 pieces. Proof:



I’m doing my calculations right on the box, lest I lose them and become desperate and frustrated later. It’s a lot of gibberish, but I know what it means. For now… (Update: I took down the picture of my “calculations” because something was way off.)

My quilt will be roughly 74”x90”, modeled after a quilt that I already use all the time. I’m currently planning to do 1/4 seams, because that’s what I normally do when sewing, unless a clothing pattern calls for something different. So that means my finished squares will be 1.5” instead of 1”. After all my calculations, I will need 2296.875 squares… as you can see, my calculations still need to be tweaked 🙂 (Update: I have done some crazy-bad calculating it seems… As Mary says on her blog, you should have 64 squares per 12” block. For some reason I came to the conclusion that she was using 1/2” seams, but she is also using 1/4” seams. NEVER TRUST MY MATH 😛 ) But I’m excited to have a semi-functional plan!

Progress Report: Pink/Blue Owl Quilt


I’m both excited and frustrated… I’m extremely happy because I completed all 12 of my squares!!! But I ran across lots of problems. Namely that I apparently cut my sashing strips too short, boo, and I can’t find my scrap material to add to the strips, extra boo. And by the end, I was having a lot of sewing trouble and I’m going to have to rip some seams. A break was called for.



I am LOVING the way it’s looking with the sashing. I can’t wait til I work out the kinks. I added a little plain chocolate brown to the length , hopefully it won’t be too distracting. I’ll have to do this on every wide strip and at the end of all the border pieces.


It’s really coming together! The tree on the back will be the next challenge 🙂

Mapping Out My Quilting Plan

It occurred to me last night that I have 5 months to finish my 3 Christmas quilts. I can be a bit of a procrastinator. 5 months sounds like forever, right??

But when I divide that by 3 quilts, that’s roughly 1.67 months per quilt! Um… time to panic!

So, I have to make myself start putting some quality time into those quilts. Not only have I taken on a gargantuan task, but I also chose to venture into unknown and potentially complicated pattern territory.

It’s so hard for me to focus on just one project. I get bored, or I get super excited about something else! But I have to harness my energy, because I don’t want to give my sisters IOU’s for Christmas. That would be jerky.

So, here’s the plan:

Quilt #1- Deborah’s Owl Quilt

IMG_4941 IMG_5215

The front of the quilt will have 12 pink and blue blocks, shashed with dark brown. At least one block will have an owl. My sister wanted to think about how many owls she wanted 🙂

IMG_5217 The back will have a pink and brown striped fabric, with a strip of pieces from the front along the bottom. Then I’m going to attempt to do a tree in brown, via ohfrannson!. I probably will not do patchwork on this tree, because I really don’t think it’s necessary. And then I’ll have 3 little owls peeking out of holes in the tree.

I have 6 blocks completed. So if I could do 1 block per day I’d be done in a week.

Week 1: Complete blocks.

Week 2: Cut sashing and piece blocks together.

Week 3: Work on the back. (I’m going to call this one week’s worth of work, but I don’t actually know how long this will take.

Week 4: Sandwich quilt and start quilting!

Week 5: Quilt.

Week 6: Bind the edges and clip threads.

Quilt #2- Alisha’s Bird Quilt

I have all the fabric for this quilt, and a general idea, but it’s still mostly in my head. It will consist of some combination of the following fabrics:

IMG_5233 And it will have a design similar to this:IMG_5224 I sketched this out without really paying attention to the quantities of fabric I have on hand. Most likely I will have to play around with color combinations. So, Alisha, don’t get attached to it 🙂 Also, I’m not sure about how to put this together, so I sure hope ohfrannson! has a pattern!!

Week 1: Work on planning. Which color do I have enough of for the background, trees, etc?

Week 2: Cut fabric.

Week 3: Piece back ground.

Week 4: Piece tree 1.

Week 5: Piece tree 2.

Week 6: Piece tree 3.

Week 7: Cut back pieces.

Week 8: Piece back. Appliqué birds on front and back.

Week 9: Sandwich and quilt.

Week 10: Bind the edges and clip threads.

(Uh-oh. This plan is 4 weeks over time-budget.)

Quilt #3- Michelle’s Bird Quilt

Sigh. Now that I’ve mapped out Alisha’s quilt, I know Michelle’s is essentially the same except in different colors. So, it, too, is slated for 4 extra weeks. I can’t let this happen! I just need to remember this is just an estimate and kick it into high gear!

Michelle’s fabrics:IMG_5241 This batch is a little messy because I’m currently using some of the fabrics for another project 🙂

And for some reason, I thought it would be faster to revamp the same picture in Paint. It was *not* faster, but it was fun 🙂final painted bird quilt IMG_5224

Week 1: Work on planning. Which color do I have enough of for the background, trees, etc?

Week 2: Cut fabric.

Week 3: Piece back ground.

Week 4: Piece tree 1.

Week 5: Piece tree 2.

Week 6: Piece tree 3.

Week 7: Cut back pieces.

Week 8: Piece back. Appliqué birds on front and back.

Week 9: Sandwich and quilt.

Week 10: Bind the edges and clip threads.

Wish me luck! And the ability to focus. I’ll need it.

Pattern: Owl Appliqué

This quilt will be my sister’s Christmas present. It’s not a surprise, she’s an active participant in the process 🙂IMG_4941




IMG_4950 This pink square is in bad need of ironing, but it’s a good example of how I currently piece my crazy quilts. I sew the strips onto muslin, a habit I hope to soon break. I’m going to eventually try true paper pieces, but I’m just scared and I’ve been relying on the stability of the muslin.


The finished quilt will be 12 12”x12” blocks sashed with dark brown. The back will be from a pink and brown sheet (you can see that fabric in one of the squares). I’m going to attempt a birch tree on the back similar to Elizabeth’s at www.ohfransson.com (one of my favorite sites!) I’ll have a little owl peeking out of a hole in the tree 🙂 This will be the first time I’ve attempted to make the back of a quilt worth looking at 🙂

Well, I’ve pledged to show my process, and the roughly sketched owl pattern definitely shows that! The odd smaller owl shape across the center is where I started working out my owl but decided I needed a bigger one. I saved paper by just flipping it and starting again 🙂 I didn’t bother making a template for the eyes and beak. I just eyeballed them and cut!

IMG_0001 IMG_0002

When it came to sewing on the appliqué, I just sewed around the edges with a tight zig-zag stitch. I left some raw edges showing because I want a worn, loved look for this quilt.

One day I want to try appliquéing the owl pattern onto a t-shirt or something.

I think you can just click to enlarge the picture to print. If you save the picture onto your computer, you can resize it! Leave a comment if it doesn’t work well and I’ll see what I can do to make it more printer-friendly! Also I’d love to see anything made from the pattern, so feel free to leave a link in the comments!!

*This pattern is free for personal use. Please link to the pattern on my blog if you use it and post it. Thanks!!