Friday, 6 May 2016

Night Owl

The secret is out.

I can now reveal one of my secret sewing projects from the last few months.

This is my Night Owl quilt. It measures 75cm x 75cm and has been selected as one of twenty quilts to tour New Zealand as part of the Aotearoa Quilters Flight Challenge.

When Aotearoa Quilters announced that they were running a quilting challenge and that the theme was "Flight", I knew immediately that I had to enter. Not only that, but I knew the quilt that I wanted to design.

Last year when I was creating my In Flight quilt, I sewed the twelve birds and then realised that I didn't have enough birds for the large quilt that I wanted to create. I went back to the drawing board to design an extra four birds. At the time, I asked my instagram followers if there were any particular birds that they wanted to see.

There was a strong body of support for an owl pattern and I loved the idea.

Unfortunately, I couldn't get it to work.

You see, the In Flight Quilt featured silhouettes of birds in flight and an owl pattern needs to show the eyes. The silhouettes looked lumpy headed and wrong without them. I shelved the idea, but kept it at the back of my mind, ready.

I could picture the owl in my head, I just needed an excuse to design it and was thrilled when an excuse dropped at my feet.

As I designed the quilt, I knew that finding the correct fabric for the background fabric would be critical. I wanted something dark, something atmospheric, something natural and without sharp lines and edges. The print couldn't be too high contrast so as to detract from the subject of the quilt but I also didn't want to use a solid.

I don't mind admitting that I spent many hours putting fabrics into my virtual shopping cart and taking them straight back out. It was tough to find something that suited, but finally I found a Cotton + Steal print called Hot Springs in Blue from Sarah Watts' Honeymoon Range. It was perfect!

I have to say that almost without exception, my friends who have seen this quilt comment on the background fabric and how perfect it is and I am convinced that it makes the quilt. I'm not sure if it comes across in the photo but it is a truly wonderful print (and I may have bought more yardage for a future project!)

 The Owl itself was sewn completely from stash. It consists of Tula Pink, Alison Glass, Frances Newcombe, Lizzy House to name but a few.

The thing about adding lots of negative space to a design is that you then have to quilt it in an interesting way. I don't mind admitting that I was a bit intimidated by this and I put it off for a while. I spent a long time agonising over how to do the design justice. I am happy that I did the best I could for my quilting ability and that I quilted it exactly the way that I envisioned right from the start.

I started by stitching the ditch around the owl and by adding feather detail where appropriate.

I wanted to give a subtle focal point for the quilting in the form of a moon and to spiral out from that. I kept up the parallel style quilting for the lower portion of the quilt and created undulating lines of the hozizon which gently followed the silhouette of the wing.

All the quilting was done using Aurifil 50 weight thread. The owl was quilted using aurifil #2150. The background was quilted using aurifil #2692.

I am so happy that I got the opportunity to create this quilt and I love the way it turned out. If you want to see the other flight challenge quilts you can see them at the Great New Zealand Quilt Show. The quilts will also travel around New Zealand in a travelling Exhibition. you can find details on the Aotearoa Quilters website.


  1. He is amazing, and the background fabric really is a stand out, once again a brilliant pattern with so many options to create with it :)

  2. You do such amazing work and this owl is no exception. Love the photo with the crow in the background ~ so wonderful.

  3. Your owl is beyond awesome! Yes, that background is perfect and the owl just pops off it! Just amazing and beautiful!!!!

  4. Once again, just totally blown away - your owl could fly right off that quilt and breathe! And a huge part of why it has such impact is that background! The owl caught my attention first of course, but then the background drew me in and kept me there. All the bits of light could almost be night bugs flying around with him. All of a sudden, it was like when I'm reading a good book, I'm right there in the book, wherever they are, night or day, time or place. When I saw your quilt, suddenly I was standing on the ground at night, looking up and seeing that magnificent creature flying above me.....thrilling!

  5. You and your owl can visit my barn anytime!! Just beautiful!!
    Judith American Canyon CA.

  6. Your owl is absolutely stunning Juliet! The fabrics you have used are just perfect as is the spiral quilting, and you always find the best locations for photos.

  7. Beautiful beyond words! Will there be a pattern? please please please.

  8. Much as I like your owl I still love your silhouette quilt . Really beautiful

  9. totally gorgeous! Well done. You are so skilful x

  10. Your owl is exquisite! I'm humbled by your skill. Truly, an amazing piece!

  11. Replies
    1. Hi Teresa,
      I have not yet released this pattern, but I promise that I will... eventually!

  12. Any chance the pattern will be out soon? It would be great for a traveling quilt I'm working on in March.

  13. Hi! :) I was wondering if there is any way possible to purchase this pattern from you? I have been searching for the perfect owl pattern to make a quilt in honor of my mom. This week is the anniversary of her passing as well as her birthday, and this beautiful barn owl reminds me so much of her. Her maiden name is Keen and married name is Wise, and both names fit as she was a very intelligent and kind person, so we always like to remember her with owls. I would be forever grateful and my home will be forever blessed if you are able to release the pattern for this beautiful quilt. :)


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