“Whoooooooo wants lunch?!” Our adorable appliquéd owl placemats make mealtime fun for kids… or those of us who are kids at heart! As they tumble through the trees, our playful owls make these placemats the perfect project for the approach of Fall. We provide templates for all four owl designs along with detailed step-by-step instructions for how to layer and stitch. Each owl pal has its own personality, thanks to their expressive eyes and whether they’re hopping, perching, flying or falling. The fabric selection for all the pieces also adds style and sass. We dug through our scrap stash for a blend of fall colors. Each owl features one tiny print and one coordinating solid.
Owls are generally solitary, but when together, the group is called a “parliament.” In this case, you’ll end up with a parliament of owl placemats.
We paired a cotton canvas for the front with a playful polka dot cotton on the back. We liked how the canvas allowed a faint dot pattern to show through from back to front. It adds a subtle background pattern.
When printing the appliqué templates, make sure your printer’s settings are at actual size to insure everything fits together perfectly. This is standard practice for all our Sew4Home PDF templates and patterns, but is particularly important for this project.
We recommend raw edge, straight stitch appliqué. It gives the owls a free-form, cartoonish feel, which is just right to enhance their playful personalities.
For more tips and techniques, as well as other appliqué stitching options, check out our full tutorial on How to Appliqué like a Pro.
For our photography, we used plastic dishes that were semi-transparent so the owls peeked through. This would be a fun way to encourage healthy eating, “Make sure to finish all your veggies so you can see the owl looking back at you!”
If you pre-wash all your fabrics and use a quality fusible web for the appliqué, such as Pellon’s Wonder Under, the placemats can be machine washed. We suggest drying them flat and pressing while still slightly damp. This will help keep the raw edges from fraying too much.
We offer downloadable patterns below for all four of our expressive owl friends as well as for the branch and leaves.
Each placemat finishes at approximately 14″ high x 19″ wide. The owls are each about 6″ x 6″, excluding their little ears and feet, and each one is centered on the placemat’s front either above or below the branch.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing machine and standard presser foot
- We recommend a see-through foot for appliqué; we used the Janome Satin Stitch foot, which is a standard accessory with most Janome machines. This foot is clear, so you have a better view of your stitches. It also has a slightly recessed bottom, which allows it to easily travel over a dense satin stitch. And, the bright red arrow at the front of the foot provides an excellent stitching guide as you twist and turn. Other options include the Open Toe Satin Stitch Foot, which has a wide opening in the front so you have a clear view of your work. The bottom of this foot is also very slightly recessed, like its regular Satin Stitch cousin above. Another helpful foot is the Janome Appliqué Foot. This foot is shorter than average, making turning and pivoting easier. Your sewing machine should have similar options.
Fabric and Other Supplies
NOTE: Quantities shown are for a set of FOUR placemats.
- Scraps or ¼ yard cuts of solid color and tiny print cottons for the appliqué; each owl uses one print and one solid – you’ll also need a solid brown for the branch, solid white and black for the eyes, solid yellow for the beak, and solid green for the leaves. Follow our photos and drawings as a guide or create your own unique look… this is a great opportunity to just some tiny print and solid scraps from your stash; you need such tiny pieces.
- 1 yard of 44″+ wide lightweight cotton canvas or similar for the placemat fronts; base; such as 54″ 7oz Duck Canvas Cloth in Natural
- 1 yard of 44″+ wide quilting cotton in a coordinating print for the placemat backs; such as 44″ Mixology Dots in Lime
- Pre-made quilt binding or approximately ¾ yard of 44″+ wide quilting cotton in a coordinating solid to make your own bias binding; such as Kona Cotton in Parrot
- 1 yard of 15″+ wide fusible web for appliqué; we used Pellon Wonder Under
- All purpose thread to match fabrics
- Contrasting thread for all the appliqué stitching (the appliqué is a design element; you want it to be visible); we used dark gray
- Bobbin thread to best match appliqué thread; we used black
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Small, sharp scissors to cut appliqués
- Iron and ironing board
- Straight pins
Getting Started and Template Download
- From the fabric for the placemat fronts, cut FOUR 19″ wide x 14″ high rectangles.
- From the fabric for the placemat backs, cut FOUR 19″ wide x 14″ high rectangles.
- You’ll need approximately 270″ of bias binding to complete all four placemats. We used a pre-made binding. If you wish to make your own binding and are new to the technique, check out our full tutorial.
- Download and print the FIVE Owl Pattern Sheets, which have been bundled into ONE PDF file to make the download easier. Print TWO copies of the file; one is to cut and the other is to refer to for positioning.
IMPORTANT: Each pattern sheet is ONE 8½” x 11″ page. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide line on each page so you can confirm your final printout is to scale.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
NOTE: The process of building each owl is the same, but their positions on the placemat, their expressions, and their wings vary from one to the next. The leaves are also different, and two of the branches go across the top and two go across the bottom. We encourage you to use the drawings below as a guide to get the very best look for your set. In the photos below, we’ve used several of the owls to give you a peek at a variety of the construction steps.
Preparing the appliqué pieces
- Find all five fabrics for each owl: print, solid, brown, white, yellow, and black – plus the green and brown for the leaves and branch (we used the same brown for the owl feet and branch). The leaves, branch, wings, feet, and beak will be cut as individual pieces. The main body and face of each owl will be cut from largest to smallest.
- Cut around the main body/face pattern. Don’t cut right on the solid line; give yourself and extra ¼” or so all around.
- Place this cut pattern on the fusible web and cut a piece of fusible web larger than the pattern.
- Following manufacturer’s instructions, adhere the fusible web to the wrong side of the appropriate print fabric.
- Place the pattern on top of the fusible web (you are still working on the wrong side of the fabric) and pin in place.
- Cut along the outer solid line.
- Un-pin the pattern and flip the fabric over to the right side. You now have the main body of the owl. Don’t peel away the paper backing from the fusible quite yet.
- From the outer body pattern, cut away the “face mask.” Use this to cut a piece of fusible web.
- Following the same steps as above, fuse the web in place on the coordinating solid fabric and cut out the “face mask.”
- Set the face mask aside.
- Cut away the white eye circles and use these as a pattern on the white fabric, to which you should have already adhered a piece of fusible web as above.
- Cut out the eye circles.
- Since these are the same for each owl, it’s efficient to simply cut all eight eye circles at once.
- Cut out the inner eye dots and use these as a pattern on the black fabric, to which you should have already adhered a piece of fusible web.
- As with the eye circles, it’s easiest to just cut all eight eye dots at once.
- Finally, cut away the beak to use it as a pattern on the yellow fabric. Cut all four beaks.
- From the main pattern page, cut the wings and feet. These can be used as-is to cut the fabric. If you are following our design, all the feet are the same brown as all the branches.
- As with the eye elements above, cut all eight feet at once.
- The wings vary on our owl friends. For OWLS A1 and A2, the wings are a print fabric.
- For OWLS B1 and B2, the wings are a solid fabric
- Cut out the two branch pattern pieces, butt them together and tape to create one full branch pattern. The branches come from different sides of the placemats, and since there is a descending branch on the pattern, you need to place and cut two branches with the pattern facing right side up…
- … and two with the pattern facing right side down.
- Cut out the leaf pattern and use it to cut three leaves for each placement from the green fabric. As above, you should have already adhered an appropriate piece of fusible web on the green fabric.
Place the branches on the placemat fronts
- Find the four placemat front rectangles and the four branches.
- Refer to the drawing above to determine placement. Two branches sit 4″ down from the top raw edge and two sit 4″ up from the bottom raw edge.
- Measure and mark a guideline.
- Remove the paper backing from the branch appliqué.
- Place along the guideline and fuse in place.
Build the owl and place the leaves
- Start with the main owl body. The largest part of the owl is centered on the mat. Fold the body piece in half and finger press to set a light crease line. This line should be 9½” from each side edge. Use the drawings above to position above or below the branch.
NOTE: Other than keeping the owl itself centered, the rest of the positioning is what looks best to your eye. There aren’t exact measurements. Simply keep things even and centered and use the drawings above as your model. OWL B1 and OWL A2 are both centered on the diagonal as shown below.
- Remove the paper backing from the main piece and SET it in place, but don’t fuse yet with the iron.
- Find a pair of feet and place them according to the drawings. For our sample, the feet are on the center of the branch. Remove the paper backing from the feet and SET them in place, but don’t fuse yet with the iron.
- The feet should be tucked under the very bottom of the main piece.
- Double check the look of the body and the feet to make sure it all seems good to your eye. The feet should be about ¾” apart.
- When all is set, fuse in place, leaving the very bottom edge of the main body piece a bit loose. It will need to be pulled back to stitch the feet in place.
- Remove the paper backing from the face mask piece and fuse it in place on the main body piece, using the drawings above as your guide.
- Remove the paper backing from the eye circles and eye dots and fuse them in place on the face mask piece, using the drawings above as your guide. The position of the eye dots is critical to the owl’s expression; take your time to get it right.
- Remove the paper backing from the beak, and for OWL B2 ONLY also remove the paper backing from the wings. Using the drawings above as your guide, fuse the beak and wings in place.
NOTE: The wings are placed at this point for OWL B2 because they are flush with the body. On the other three owls, the wings will be placed after the initial appliqué stitching.
- Remove the paper backing from the leaves. Using the drawings above as your guide, carefully place the three leaves.
- Note that some of the leaves are right at the end of the branch and others are falling.
- We chose straight stitching, a common option for raw edge appliqué. We increased our stitch length just slightly to 2.8mm. Adjust the speed of your sewing to slooooooooow. For the smallest pieces, such as the feet, beaks, and eye dots, we manually turned the handwheel rather than using the foot control, giving us the slowest-of-slow options to make these tiny turns.
NOTE: Slow and steady is your best bet to get a smooth stitch line. That said, raw edge appliqué is meant to have a more “rustic” look. If you have a slight bobble now and then, don’t sweat it too much. There are a lot of pieces to this appliqué, and it will be the overall look that will be viewed in the end.
- Thread the machine with the contrasting thread in the top and bobbin thread in the bobbin. We used a very dark gray in the top and black in the bobbin.
- Start with the feet. Pull back that very bottom un-fused edge of the main body piece so you can access all of both feel. Stitch each foot in place. When the stitching is done, place the bottom edge of the body back down into its flat position and fuse in place.
- Next, stitch around the entire outer edge of the main body piece. With all the pieces, your stitching should be very close to the edge – about ⅛” or narrower.
- Reposition and stitch around the out perimeter of the face mask.
- Move to the eye circles.
- Then finish the face appliqué with the beak and eye dots.
- For OWL B2, appliqué along the inner edge of its flush wings.
- For OWLS A1, A2 and B1, find their appropriate wing pair. Remove the paper backing from the wing pieces and position them on the appliquéd body, using the drawings above as your guide. Fuse in place.
- Appliqué the wings in place.
- Stitch the branch next. On OWL B2, the one sitting on the branch, simply start and lock your seam to either side of the feet.
- Finally, stitch the three leaves. With all your stitching, we recommend using a lock stitch to secure the start and finish of each seam. If your machine does not have this feature, leave the thread tails long and hand knot to secure. A backstitch does not look very good with straight stitch appliqué.
Assemble and bind to finish
- Place each finished front wrong sides together with a back panel.
- Make sure the raw edges of both pieces are flush on all four sides and pin in place.
- Find your bias binding. Fold the strip in half to set a center crease. Open up so the crease line is visible, then fold in each raw edge to meet in the middle at the crease. Press.
- Fold again along the original crease line so the outer folded edges are flush. Press again.
NOTE: As mentioned above, if you’re new to this technique, check out our two step-by-step tutorials on binding. One focuses on figuring yardage and attaching, the other is a great overview of binding quilts and throws.
- Starting in the middle of the bottom edge, and working on the front of the placemat, slip the folded and pressed bias binding over the edge. Be very careful that your center fold sits right up against the placemat’s raw edge and your binding is even on both sides. Pin from the starting point to first corner.
- Fold a pleat in each corner at a 45˚ angle.
- When you return to your starting point, tuck under the raw edge of the binding, trimming away any excess and matching the bottom edges.
- Don’t be afraid to use plenty of pins to keep everything in place. We kept a few pins through the center layers as well as all around the binding.
- Re-thread the machine with thread to best match the binding in the top and bobbin. Keep your lengthened stitch.
- Edgestitch the binding in place. Stay as close to the edge of the binding as you can, but make sure you are catching both the front and back in the one seam.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Leah Wand