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Sleepy Time Stuffed Owls
Oh! is for Ollie and Olivia Owl. This adorable stuffed pair is wondering, “Whoooooo wants a hug?” We provide all the pattern pieces you need to make one, two or an entire parliament. Yep… a group of owls is called a parliament. They must be wise indeed. These owl pals are a generous size for easy squeezing, and well as for laying your head for a little sleepy time nap. Each is approximately 18″ tall x 16″ wide, excluding ears, wings and feet. We especially love their big, bright eyes – they’re staying wide awake so you can doze safe and sound. Originally making their debut on the site in 2014, this precious pair has continued to be one of our top stuffed toy projects.
We used Poly-Fil® 100% Premium Polyester FiberFill. You may be under the assumption that all fiber filling is created equal, and that you just punch it in, like you’re stuffing the Thanksgiving turkey. “Oh No!” says wise Olivia Owl. For a smooth, professional finish that’s super soft and huggable, you must start with a quality filler. One that is resilient, washable, and will not bunch. Then, you need to take the time to fluff that quality filler and insert it, in small handfuls, into all the nooks and crannies. We have a good tutorial on Pillow Stuffing Tips & Tricks. Ollie and Olivia each used one 12 oz bag of fiberFill.
We purchased our fleece locally, but have included links below to similar fabric available online. It’s great fun to mix and match, and you can pick colors that are a favorite of the owl owner-to-be.
Please note that our Sleepy Time Owls have button eyes. They are very securely stitched in place (you’ll see below we used our Janome machine’s Button Sewing foot to do the stitching). But, if you want to make these for a very young child, you may want to consider using appliquéd black fabric or felt circles instead of buttons. Just make sure you choose a fabric that will not bleed into the white when washed.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing Machine and standard presser foot
- Open Toe Satin Stitch foot – optional, but it is helpful to have a transparent foot with a guide for the appliqué stitching and decorative stitching
- Button Sewing foot – optional, but what we used for secure stitching of the button eyes
Fabric and Other Supplies
NOTE: Supplies shown below are for TWO Owls
- ½ yard EACH of TWO striped or chevron-patterned fleece fabrics for the bodies and wings; we found a good selection of chevrons in a wide variety of colors at Fabric.com
- ⅜ yard EACH of TWO coordinating solid fleece fabrics for the heads; we found a good selection of Cuddle® solids (our favorite by Shannon Fabrics) at Fabric.com – select from this, or your own resource, for the heads as well as the feet, beaks, and eyes below
- ¼ yd of solid fleece fabric for the feet and beaks; we used, and recommend, pale yellow
- ⅛ yd of solid fleece fabric for the eyes; we used, and recommend, white
- TWO 12 oz bags of Poly-Fil® 100% Premium Polyester FiberFill
- Four 1″ black buttons or colorfast fabric/felt to create 1″ black fabric circles
- All purpose thread to match fabrics
- Decorative thread for the eyes and beak; we used 40 wt polyester in black for the eyes and dark yellow for the beak
- Bobbin thread in white for the appliqué process
- ½ yard of tear away stabilizer for the appliqué process
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Rotary cutter and mat
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
- Hand sewing needle
- Transparent tape; optional for button sewing
Getting Started and Pattern Download
- Download and print out the SIX pattern sheets which are combined in one PDF file to make the download easier: Owl Pattern. This PDF file includes Owl Body Parts 1 and 2, Owl Head Parts 1 and 2, and Owl Feature Parts 1 and 2.
IMPORTANT: Each pattern sheet is ONE 8½” x 11″ page. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE OR SHRINK to fit the page. There is a guide rule on each page so you can confirm your final printout is to scale.
- Cut out each pattern piece along the solid line.
- Butt together (do not overlap) the two HEAD pattern pieces and the two BODY pattern pieces, aligning the arrows printed on the patterns. Tape together to create one full pattern piece for each.
- Fold the patterned fabric (chevron in our sample), centering the motif and making sure any chevrons/stripes are perfectly straight. Place the pattern pieces for the Owl Body (on the fold) and Owl Wing as shown in the photo below and cut out the first set.
- Refold the fabric, again centering the stripe/chevron. Carefully position the pattern pieces so they match the first set (body and wing). Cut out the second set. Remember to make a small clip at each marked dot on the Owl Body pattern to transfer the position of the wings and feet from the pattern to the fabric.
- Repeat to cut the front and back body and wings for the second owl.
- From the solid fleece fabrics for the head, for EACH owl, use the assembled pattern to cut TWO head pieces.
- From the pale yellow fleece fabric for the feet and beak, for EACH owl, use the patterns to cut ONE beak and FOUR feet.
- From the white fleece fabric for the eyes, for EACH owl, use the pattern to cut TWO eyes.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
NOTE: The instructions below show the steps to complete one owl. Repeat as needed to make a full “parliament.”
- Find one head piece, two white eye circles, two buttons (or black fabric circles), and the tear away stabilizer.
- Position the eyes on the head, according to the pattern. Pin in place.
- Cut a piece of tear away stabilizer to fit behind the eyes.
- Place the layered fleece on top of the stabilizer.
- Set up the machine with bobbin thread in the top and in the bobbin. This fine thread will allow you to “pre-position” the eyes, appliquéing them in place and creating a smooth edge for the decorative stitches that follow. The thin white thread will virtually disappear into the nap of the fleece.
- Select a medium zig zag stitch (we used 3.0 width and 1.5 length). Attach a decorative stitch foot (we used the clear Janome Open Toe Satin Stitch foot with its wide open front and helpful center guide notch).
- Zig zag around the eye, using the edge of the white circle as your center line. The fleece fabric may curl as you stitch. You can use your seam ripper or a stylus to hold the edge down as you sew. Zig zag around both eyes.
- Place the Owl Beak in position between the eyes, again following the placement shown on the paper pattern. Notice how the beak overlaps the eyes – this is correct. Place a pin at this overlap point on each eye. This is where you’ll start and stop the eyes’ decorative stitching so the stitching’s overlap point will be hidden under the beak. Remove the beak.
- Re-thread the machine with a decorative thread on top (we used black) and keep the bobbin thread in the bobbin. Select a satin stitch that will give you an “eyelash” effect. You could also use a simple wide zig zag or a blanket stitch.
- Starting at the pin point you just marked above, stitch around each eye, centering the stitch on the edge of the white eye circle.
- Find two of the 1″ black buttons.
- Center one black button within each white eye circle. Tape in place.
- We used a Janome Button Sewing foot and the button sewing option on our Janome machine. To do this, attach the Button foot on the machine and lower the feed dogs. Select the “Sew on button” option or select a zig zag. This will be determined by your machine’s instruction manual. Place the button under the foot. Turn the wheel by hand to lower the needle into the first hole of the button. Continue to turn the wheel by hand until the needle approaches the second hole of the button. Adjust the stitch width if necessary. Sew on the button. Remove the tape. Remove the excess stabilizer.
NOTE: For more information, check out our tutorial on Sewing Buttons by Machine. Of course, you can sew the buttons on by hand. But make sure you double or triple your thread, and stitch numerous loops so you can completely fill the button holes with thread. You don’t want any white showing through the holes of the buttons.
- As mentioned above, if you are worried about using buttons, appliqué black fabric or felt circles into place as an alternative.
Complete the owl body (front and back) and add beak
- Re-thread with all purpose thread to match the fabric in the top and bobbin.
- Place the appliquéd head right sides together with one body piece. Pin in place.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch together. Steam the seam open. Fleece is delicate and an iron can leave marks, so steaming the seam should be done from the back and holding the iron above the fabric rather than touching the fabric.
- Repeat to sew the remaining plain Owl Head to the remaining Owl Body, but leave a 4″ opening in the center of this seam for turning and stuffing.
- Flip over the owl front to the right side and position the beak according to the pattern. Pin in place.
- Cut a piece of tear away stabilizer to fit behind the beak.
- Place the fleece on top of the stabilizer.
- Re-thread the machine with bobbin thread in the top and the bobbin.
- As you did above for the eyes, select a medium zig zag stitch and appliqué the beak in place.
- Zig zag around the beak, using the edge of the beak as your center line.
- Re-thread the machine with a decorative thread on top (we used dark yellow to create a strong outline for the beak) and leave the bobbin thread in the bobbin. Select a standard tight zig zag stitch – also known as a satin stitch (we used 3.5 width and 0.40 length). Stitch around the entire perimeter of the beak. Remove the excess stabilizer.
Feet and wings
- Find all the feet and wings. Match them up into appropriate pairs and place each pair right sides together. Pin in place.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch around the curved outer edges of each pair. The inner straight edges remain open.
- Clip into the points of the curves and trim the seam allowance back to ¼”.
- Turn right side out and get a small handful of fiberfill. Fluff up the fiberfill.
- Stuff both feet and both wings, working the filler down into the “toes” and “feathers.”
NOTE: Don’t forget to review our Pillow Stuffing Tutorial for stuffing tools and tricks.
- Find the owl front. Place it right side up on your work surface.
- Following the pattern markings, as well as the little clips you made when initially cutting out the body pieces, pin the feet and wings in place. Push the filler away from the raw edges so your seam will be going through just the fabric.
- Machine baste the feet and wings in place, staying within the seam allowance or about ¼” from the raw edge. You could also hand baste.
- Place the owl front and back right sides together, sandwiching the feet and wings between the layers. Align the raw outer edges of both pieces. Pin in place.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch all around the owl body. Stitch with the owl front facing up so you can see the basting seams holding the feet and wings in place. Go slowly and carefully around all the curves to maintain a smooth seam allowance. Remember, you left an opening in the back head/body seam for turning and stuffing, so this outer seam is uninterrupted. In the photo below, you can see us stitching past the basting seam holding a wing in place.
- Turn the finished owl right side out through the opening in the back head/body seam.
- Stuff with the remaining fiber fill. A 12 oz bag of the Poly-Fil® 100% Premium Polyester FiberFill gives a soft, cushy… huggable feel.
- Thread a hand sewing needle and slip stitch the opening closed.
- Olivia the Sleepy Time Owl is sporting a little fleece bow. To make this bow, cut two strips from the scraps of the pale yellow fleece used for the beak and feet. One strip is 2″ x 8″ and the other is ¾” x 2″.
- Fleece does not ravel, so no finish is needed. Simply fold each strip in half, matching the short ends.
- Zig zag the ends together, using a matching thread.
- Roll the seam of the larger strip, centering it at the back.
- Slip the larger strip through the smaller strip, centering the smaller strip to form a ‘faux knot’ and conceal the seam on the larger strip.
- Hand stitch the bow in place at the base of one ear.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Michele Mishler
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Cute pattern. Thank you for sharing! I’m making them as a baby gift to a matching baby blanket
Hi Juda – That sounds like such a wonderful gift. We happy to know one of our owls is going to a new home.
These owls are great. I found
These owls are great. I found the pattern in 2015 and have made one for each of my great-grand babies, each in a different color. Thank you for the pattern.
@phylissr – Thank you! They
@phylissr – Thank you! They are indeed a classic… hugged by many around the world
These owls look incredibly
These owls look incredibly cool. I do not even know what words can describe how beautiful they are. I love owls very much, sometimes it seems to me that the owl is my totem animal.