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The Allie Owl Pattern is a hoot with these quick tips!

Quilter Spotlight

Francine standing next to her amazing Allie Owl quilt!
Francine standing next to her amazing Allie Owl quilt!

If you want to see how amazing the Missoula quilting community is, all you have to do is walk into our store. We’ve got gorgeous quilts hanging from every wall, and most of them were made for us by talented local quilters. One such quilter is Francine Miller who recently made Elizabeth Hartman’s Allie Owl quilt for us.

This adorable quilt turned out BEAUTIFULLY, so we asked her to give a little review of her experience for other interested quilters. Here were her thoughts about the pattern, fabric, and overall process!

Getting Started

The Elizabeth Hartman Allie Owl quilt pattern is a conventional patchwork piecing pattern. I had a great time with this pattern, but the technique was new to me so there were some definite pains to overcome throughout the process. My best piece of advice? Follow step #1 and read all the instructions first!

The Fabric

The Lewis & Irene Winter Nap collection.

To make these autumnal owls, I primarily used fabrics from the Winter Nap collection. Maisie introduced us to this collection during a Modern Quilt Guild meeting several months ago and I fell immediately in love. (I’m a sucker for cute animals!) To provide some contrast I included a few basics in red, green, orange, and yellow.

Elizabeth Hartman likes to use only solids for her quilts because it helps the animals stand out. But, because I was using very patterned fabrics, I disregarded her fabric directions on the back of the pattern. I shouldn’t have!

For each owl you make, you want a range of 5 fabrics that go from light to dark. Rather than using 5 different fabrics for each owl, I reused the 9 fabrics I selected in varying combinations. This worked, but I realized too late that I didn’t have a broad enough range of dark, medium, and light tones, so the faces on my two bottom owls don’t pop as much as I would like.

You can see how the beaks of my bottom two owls don’t stand out quite as much as the top two!

A neat trick for determining fabric tone is to photograph your intended fabrics in black and white, like so –

In this assortment, I have four dark tones, four lighter tones, and only one true medium tone (the bees). If I ever attempt this pattern again, I’d want to have a more even distribution of tones.

Quilt Size

I was surprised by how large the owls were! Each owl measures around 15″ x 28″ and,  at first, I planned to make 9 owls for a twin quilt. However, after finishing my first owl, I realized 4 would be more than enough for a shop sample. You can also play with the owl placement like Elizabeth Hartman did if you don’t want your owls to be evenly stacked.

The Making Of

After my fabric was all picked out, I went home to get started and got a surprise right off the bat. Both Maisie and I had initially thought that this was a paper piecing pattern. Turns out, it’s not! (Another example of how reading the pattern carefully is helpful!)

At first I was disappointed by this revelation because I recently made Violet Craft’s Forest Abstractions quilt, and I was eager to try another piecing project. To make these owls you use what is known as the Flip and Sew method. This technique was new to me, so I found it difficult at first. But, once I made it through the first owl and began to understand the technique, I really enjoyed myself!

Take Note

Here are a few things to know before getting started:

  1. No fancy quilting tools are needed. Plain straight rulers, rotary cutters, and good thread got me through this project just fine.
  2. Make sure to follow Elizabeth Hartman’s cutting and grouping instructions precisely, and – if you’re using the same fabrics in multiple owls like I did – cut only ONE owl at a time! (It can get pretty confusing otherwise.)
  3. The right and left halves of each owl are mirror images of one another, so if something isn’t lining up right it’s pretty apparent.  Make sure  that you sew all the pieces together in the correct order, and take your time when piecing the face to make sure that the beak lines up.
The perfect fall quilt!

A Hoot and a Half!

I had a ton of fun piecing this sample for The Confident Stitch. These fabrics and pattern together are so cute, and – once I got the hang of it – the owls came together quickly. I hope you have as much fun with this pattern as I did!

-Francine

Owl always love you!

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