Friday, August 31, 2012

tutorial: stuffed owls (and no, it’s not a recipe)

EDITED TO ADD THIS NOTE: I accidentally deleted photos from a bunch of my old blog posts. I have found and replaced as many photos as possible as I could find until I got sick of searching, from this post, but I'm not the most organized and there's 7000+ pics on my computer O.o yikes, I know. Anyway, the important ones are here...the owls, and the pattern. Enjoy!

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

this may come as a surprise to you, but i occasionally tend towards not thinking things through all the way. (stop snickering, tina. i can hear you) sometimes i jump in with both feet and both arms and my whole body before i’ve really stopped to make sure there’s enough water in the pool.
and obviously a person such as myself would head blindly off to the fabric store to buy the supplies for 13 stuffed owls as gifts for the “night owl” sleepover party—each with their own “personality” and color/fabric scheme--without even making a list.
i had gigi with me—the chatterbox who can make a grown man’s head spin—and not a clue where to begin. it took me all of 3.4 seconds to realize i had made a major, major mistake. actually let’s be honest—a number of them. i scrambled for scraps of paper and a working pen—shoot even an eyeliner pencil would work--in my bag, hastily trying to come up with the outline of a plan. i didn’t even have an idea what these 13 owls were going to be beyond vague thoughts of “oh, a princess owl. and maybe a ballerina owl. annnndd…uhh…oh! an artist owl would be cute…”
2 hours and $60 later i left with a stack of fabrics and felt and stuffing that would make the hardiest of sewists shudder, and the back side of an envelope covered with scribbles and arrows and circles and things crossed out looking for all the world like the john nash of jo-ann’s. (a beautiful mind, anyone? oh, and i totally typed “crossed owt” the first time. owls on the brain.)
but it worked. because sometimes flying by the seat of your pants, leaping before you look or…or…(insert 3rd “lack of planning” type idiom here because, of course, i started this list which clearly calls for a 3rd saying of some sort to complete the rhythm without thinking it through all the way. irony, people. get some.)
okay so it worked. that’s the point. when the sewing dust settled i had these:

13 owls, each with their own

 each owl is a blend of cotton fronts with a soft minky backing, button eyes and felt details. i couldn’t decide which was my favorite. as i finished each one and set it aside it occupied the top spot as The One I Would Pick. until i finished the next one. i’m fickle like that.

if you happen to be in the market for 13 individual owls and would like a bit more to go on than a Vague Idea, i present to you each owl in detail:

the options are really endless. i started making myself crazy—i’d see some “themed” quilting cotton and think OH! that could be an XYZ owl! and the details…oh the details. should the french owl be holding a baguette? should princess owl have a scepter? should bookworm owl have a worm? or should i scratch his book altogether and give him a tiny pair of owly skinny jeans and call him hipster owl? will 8 year olds even get that?
decisions, decisions…
as for the sewing: i did certain things to make my life easier. first, the main part of each owl’s body was either brown or grey. and the backs were either red, pink, brown or white minky. i also used some fabrics on more than one owl. but not too much—i really wanted them to be individual.

heavy duty wonder under is your new best friend. each piece got attached with the wonder under first—belly, wings, eyes and beak.

some felt details were nice wool felt, others—like the beaks--were just the cheap craft felt.

gasp! did you really try to iron wonder under onto craft felt made from plastic bottles????

yes i certainly did. and it worked, too. i used a press cloth and short hits with the iron, but it worked. then i traced 13 beaks and cut them all out.

(obvs if you follow my lead you do so at your self and your iron’s risk)
and i did the same with the eyes.

i made a pinned together pile for each one—a body, belly, wings, two eyes and a beak. then i took them all to the iron and attached the pieces together.
once that was done i went to the sewing machine and stitched down all the pieces, mainly using a blanket stitch.

i also used white thread for the most part on the major details—again, just a little something to help save my sanity.
when all the fronts were done i got to work cutting out all the felt details. i sewed them down by color to save myself from switching my thread and bobbin 50 times. i laid out all the owls and sewed any red details on each with red in my machine. then switched to orange thread and did all the orange details…and so on.
i attached all the black button eyes by machine too. all 26 eyes—and i didn’t break a single button or needle. i’m pretty proud of that.
then i cut 26 owl feet (well, actually the ballerina’s feet were special, so 24 owl feet) and attached them to the bottom, matched up a back and sewed the back and front right sides together, leaving an opening on the side for stuffing.
jeremy and i spent an hour in front of the tv stuffing and hand stitching them shut the night before the party.
i have to say that all things considered they weren’t that difficult to do, especially considering the impact they had—the girls were SO EXCITED.
the last thing i did on the day of the party was print out little certificates that went along with each owl. to be honest my brain was shot. the woman who i initially got this idea from had cute little poems for each owl. i gave up on that idea.

they all were a variation on the above.

okay, probably the french owl was my favorite.

i had two bowls with slips of paper marked 1-12. each girl picked a number from the first bowl. then i chose the first number from the 2nd bowl. the girl with the matching number got to choose her owl and read the certificate to everyone, and she picked the next number from the second bowl.
(i mentioned in yesterday’s post that i put the owls in bags with a tag that had a clue as to their personality on it—i.e. a pair of dancing shoes for the ballerina owl, a book for the bookworm. that way they couldn’t see the exact details but had some idea what they were picking. with girls ranging from 3-12 i had some that appealed to littlers (princess, flower) and some that appealed to biggers (photography, moustache). i wanted to give them the chance to choose something appropriate.)
by making 13 owls rather than just 12 even the last girl to get her number picked still had a choice between 2 owls, and the odd owl out went to elliot. :) (which, to my surprise, ended up being the love owl. none of them went for the the heart. and the moustache owl went pretty quickly—thankyouverymuch MOM (who said no one would pick it because it was for a boy))
it was a hit. they had a blast seeing each new owl come out of it’s bag, and the majority of them curled up with their owl when it was bedtime.

finally i want to mention again the awesome blog i originally got this idea from—snowy bliss.
now, in case you’re really really a sick person and want all the dirty details because maybe you want to make your own baker’s dozen of stuffed owls i’m including my supply list and a printable pattern. enjoy!

+ 1/2 yard gray cotton an 1/2 yard brown cotton for the owl fronts
+ 1/3 yard minky in each color: pink, red, brown, white 
+ felt sheets in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, light pink, dark pink
+ 1/4 yard wool felt in each color: black, brown, white
+ 1/8 yard pink tulle
+ 26 black buttons
+ 2 bags of polyfiber stuffing
+ lots and lots of coordinating thread colors
+ one package of heavy duty wonder under (use your 40% off coupon!)
+ 6” strips of each fabric you need for the belly and wings of your owls. so if you use a different fabric combo for each owl you’ll need 6” strips of 26 different fabrics. eek! you see why it took 2 hours, right? all my fabrics were purchased from jo-ann’s. the chances of you finding exactly the same 26 fabrics is slim to none, i’m sure, but here’s a photo guide just to help.

(sorry, never did find this photo again! :(   )
because your owl belly’s are really just a 6x4 ish oval, you’re going to have a LOT of leftovers (this photo is actually my scraps!) so if you can double up on any fabrics (like the polka dots i used for a couple different owls) you don’t need to buy any more fabric. you can get at least 4 sets of wings or 5 bodies from each 6” strip.
you could also buy some fat quarters to make the owls. i wasn’t happy with the fabric choices in fat quarters at jo-ann’s though. but if you’re only making one or two owls it may be a good option.


+ right click and print these 2 pages. NOTE: print page 2 TWICE and cut out the belly piece from the second copy
+ line up the “X” and tape together
+ cut out your pattern pieces

+ iron heavy duty wonder under onto your belly, wings, beak and eyes.
+ the wing has a left side and right side. make sure you cut 2 mirror image wings.
+ carefully fold over 1/4” and press down on the top edge of the belly and the inside edges of the wings.
+ iron all the pieces down, and then stitch around the edges of each to secure.
+ refer to my photos for all the felt details.
+ sew front and back together with a 1/2” seam allowance, leaving a small opening to turn and stuff.
+ hand stitch each owl closed.
+ i didn’t include the “feet” on here. that was partly because i forgot, and party because when i remembered i didn’t have enough room to add it. so if you want to add feet just cut simple bird feet shapes from brown felt and sew them on the bottom before sewing the back and front together.

PHEW! i think that’s it. i hope SOMEONE gets use from this—because this was a bear of a blog post to write! ha! enjoy—and as always, let me know if you make any—i’d love to see them!
Pin It!


  1. You're entirely too ambitious. This will never happen in my house. I promise. ;)
    And of course if you're going to make owls it only makes sense to wing it!

    1. (I already get enough love/hate/love for making superhero capes, masks, and tutus as birthday gifts because i'm too lazy to leave the house to buy gifts. By which I mean, I like to give handmade. No. Yes. Both.)

    2. hahaha! oh i just love a good pun!

  2. This is FABULOUS.

    I have developed an owl obsession and this is just adorable. I do not have kids yet, but I may make some just for me, and my nephew. Thank you for such details, LOVE it!!!!

    1. go for it! you're never too old for owls ;)
      thanks, and you're welcome!

  3. bwahahahahaha! and they made fun of me for my duck-themed party complete with duck-wiches. pff, this is awesome! you know it's going to spin into a business now right?

    1. duck-wiches? DUCK-WICHES???? this sounds awesome. photos, STAT.

  4. These are amazing and you are obviously a very talented woman! Honestly, you could sell these! Taking orders for owls that reflect the personality of the child who gets them.....really! (You know, between mothering your house-full of children!)

    1. thanks carol-anne! ;) i may have to consider the time i got done these i got quite proficient at churning out owls.

  5. ClemClem de Paris9/2/12, 4:04 PM

    There are all amazing and so cute ! And I feel specialy close to that post as you even made a French Owl... Yes, you have fan in Paris-France... You are amazing and a real inspiraion for other mom all around the globe ;-))

    1. shut up! well bonjour and hello!
      thanks so much! or should i say merci!

  6. Oh my goodness, Shannon...those are SO, SO cute! What a great idea. You should make more and sell them on Etsy! They would go so fast! I love them...what a very kind and generous gift to give to those girls.

  7. I want one!! Can you make shopper owl? Ma

    1. oh please mom. your owl would have a bedazzled track suit.

  8. Thank you, thank you, thank you. My dear friend's daughter announced that she is pregnant and wants an owl theme for her shower. This is just what I was looking for! I'm sure my owl won't be nearly as cute as yours, but she'll never know. Perhaps a baby owl?

  9. Thank you for giving us the idea of the owls...wish I knew how to post a picture of ours but they were LOVED!

    1. awesome! that makes me so happy! and i'd love a photo if you can figure it out or email it to me!

  10. These are adorable!
    I pinned your pattern and I'm going to attempt to
    make some of your sweet owls for my g'children.
    Thanks for sharing and the tutorial!


drop me a line. please? don't make me's not pretty.


Related Posts with Thumbnails