Thursday, April 2, 2020

The Owl

I wanted to make an owl quilt as a present for a colleague. It turns out that I started this on Feb 1, just as the pandemic was exploding and I finished today, as we are social distancing and praying that we have flattened the curve enough to get through the 'surge'. Working on this has been a sanity-preserving bit of time-out to focus on creativity instead of organizing staff and colleagues to work from home and looking for hand-sanaitizer.

I found the pattern on Lori Kennedy's blog from 2015 ( The original pattern was created by Peggy Aare ( and is based on an owl (Rebecca) that lives at Linwood Research Station. The pattern uses 14 different shades ranging from very dark to very light. Although Peggy shared her list of Kona and Bella solid colors, I did not want to buy a lot of fabric for just a few triangles, so I bought an brown-beige ombre and cut strips to get about half the colors. The rest came from my stash.

Colored triangles cut out of the printed pattern and
arranged in order by shade. Numbers indicate
the number of times each color is used.

Strips cut wide enough for the triangles, labeled with the
color number and arranged in order by color

I also pasted up the full size map and printed out foundations (reversed) for all the pieced triangles and pinned them in place ready to be constructed.

Paper pieced triangles about half done.

Pieced triangles done except for the right eye.

All the pieced and solid triangles pinned in place and ready to be sewn together. They go
together in columns and if you alternate the direction (up or down) for pressing the seams,
the columns sew together easily with perfect or nearly perfect intersections.
After piecing, it was time to quilt. I decided to use wool batting for some poof, and to put a light canvas between the batting and the backing for extra heft and stability. Seems like I always have to experiment. I wanted the quilting to be somewhat abstract except for feathers on the owl and to mostly provide texture, so decided to use kimono silk, more or less matching the fabric.
I practiced with a narrow zigzag for ditching the vertical
seams which were pressed open, and to check out colors,
tension, etc.
Here she is in all her quilted glory, perched on a 'ruler-work' branch. I've engaged the edges as
Robbi Joy Eklow says, by having the background migrate out into the border, and having the border
migrate in. The borders are uneven (partly because I ran out of fabric) and are kind of a
window frame or maybe a tree trunk.
Close-up of the face. Hi-lights in the eyes are tiny dabs of
white fabric paint. I practiced on a life sized printout of a picture
of the head to test positioning before 'committing'.
The back is almost better than the front.

I love how this turned out, i love the slightly abstract equilateral triangle construction and can definitely see designing something else using this strategy of simple (well sort of simple -- the eyes were a challenge) foundation piecing, and I'm more anxious than ever for the pandemic to calm down enough to give this to my friend.

Just as I was finishing this I heard about the Quilts Inc call for an exhibit called Quarantine Quilts: Creativity in the midst of Chaos. What could be better and more appropriate. AND I finally have a quilt that meets the size criteria. I entered 'The Owl', so, fingers crossed, maybe she will get in.

Thanks for reading,

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