Owl Place-mat Tutorial

To say I have a lot of scraps would be a slight understatement. Clothing is my favorite thing to sew so I always end up with more scraps, but never do projects to get rid of any. So I decided to make place-mats for our cute new apartment. This- projects gave me something new to try, used up some of my scrap stash, and didn’t cost me a thing 🙂

I googled a bunch of different ideas for place-mats and table runners and saw one with an owl. I immediately knew what I wanted to make and got designing. I found the cute owl applique here and then drew up an idea on how to have lots of cute owls (to use more scraps 😉 ) and to give the place-mats more variety. 

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Here is a tutorial is you want to make some for yourself! They are really easy and can easily be adjusted depending on what scraps you have. (This is to make 4 place-mats) 

You will need:

  • a variety of fabric scraps
  • sewing machine
  • thread (lots of fun colors is best)
  • buttons
  • scissors
  • bias tape (or you can make your own)
  • quilt batting
  • interfacing
  • glue stick
  • rotary cutter and mat
  • iron and ironing board and starch

First figure out what size you want your place-mats. This may depend on how big your table is. My place-mats measure 15 1/2″ x 12″ when finished. Cut out a pattern piece for the back, either by tracing a standard place-mat or drawing up your own pattern. To make my pattern I cut a 15″x12″ rectangle, folded it into fourths and rounded the corners.

Pick out what fabric scraps you will want to use and starch and iron them. Starch helps so much since you are going to be working with small pieces. 

Next cut out 4 backs. These should be cut from a whole piece of fabric. If you don’t have any scraps that size you could piece some together. 

Then cut 4 pieces of quilt batting from that same pattern.

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Next decide what colors you want for your top background. I did two shades of blue to look like a night sky, and because I only had two pieces of blue scraps that were big enough. Using your rotary cutter and mat cut out 2 1/2″ squares. You will need a total of 192 squares. (If you use two different colors you will have 96 squares of each color.)

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Next print off you owl template. Print one page at 100%, one at 80%, and one at 60%. 

There is special applique interfacing that you can use (one side has the glue dots and the other side is a paper that peels off and is then sticky), but if you don’t have any you can just use regular interfacing. Lay your interfacing over the owl template and trace all of your pieces. You will need: 2 large owls, 2 medium owls, 3 small owls, 12 stars (I used the sizes from the 100% printing and only a few from the 80%, I felt like the rest were to small), 2 large regular branches (I just added a few extra inches on the end) and two other branches. I didn’t want the end of the branch on two of my mats, so I drew my two other branches so that it would look like all of my owls were sitting on one big branch together. 

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Cut each piece apart leaving edges, DO NOT cut along the lines! (It just creates a lot more work for you). You can leave pieces that will be cut from the same piece of fabric together. Then iron the pieces onto the BACK of what ever fabric scrap you will be using. Once the interfacing has been ironed on you will cut out the pieces along the lines. Put all of your pieces in a ziplock bag so they don’t get lost as you sew.

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Once all your pieces are cut out you will start sewing your top piece together. Use a 1/4″ seam allowance. I have a cool foot that has the different measurements marked on it that is great for narrow seams. But if you don’t have a special foot you can just measure out to where it will be, it is usually about the edge of your foot.

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Piece your squares together alternating your different colors. You will sew strips of 8 across. 

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Press each seam open.

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Once they are all sewn into strips you will sew six strips together to make a rectangle. Then press the seams open. (I started to forget to take pics at this point so ignore the parts in the pics that you haven’t got to yet!)

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Now you get to start putting your applique pieces on. If you used the applique paper you will be able to iron these pieces right on. If you used regular interfacing you can use special sewing adhesives or a standard WASHABLE glue stick! I like just a basic Elmers school glue stick. It holds your pieces in place and doesn’t gum up your machine. 

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Starting with the bottom most layer of the applique, in this case the branch, put a small amount of glue on the interfacing side and place it onto your place-mat front. Stitch it in place using an applique stitch or a very tight zig-zag. 

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Once the branch is sewn in place glue on and sew the next layer. I sewed in the order of: branch, owl body, wings, feet, white of eyes, beak, stars. 

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Once all four tops are done you will begin sewing your place-mats together. With WRONG sides together match up your three layers: bottom (facing down), batting, top (facing up). Pin them in place. 

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To keep all the layers nicely in place you need to do some basic quilting. My machine can do free hand quilting, so I just did a bunch of swirls around my applique. If you don’t have a way to do free hand quilting you could stitch along the seams of the blue squares or create a design with a basic straight stitch. 

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Next you will bind the edges. You can buy 1/2″ wide double fold bias tape or make your own. I think this tutorial by DanaMadeIt gives the best explanation on how to make your own and how to sew on bias tape. 

Once your place-mats are bound you need to sew on buttons for the blacks of the eyes. (You could have just appliqued these on, but I like the texture the buttons give them).

And now your done!

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