[completed] owl always love you

finished quilt!
For my younger sister's 24th birthday (can you believe it?), I made her a quilt. I was a little late getting it to her, but better late than never, right?

The idea for this quilt came about when I showed her the two snail baby quilts I made over the summer. She loved them and requested a birthday quilt from Boo Davis' awesome book. I showed her the options over Skype (which is basically the best invention ever!), and she chose the owl pattern shown on the cover. Through conversation, we decided that a snowy owl on a dark background would be neat.

This is the result!
closeup of the front
I took some artistic liberties and incorporated a range of white-on-white prints as well as one gray print for the owl's body and eyes. My sister did not like Boo Davis' mixing of prints, but I think a variety of prints helps give the quilt some depth and interest, so I chose to go with the more subtle white-on-white prints as a compromise. I added the gray print just to give the quilt a little more of a scrappy feel. I chose a rich dark purple solid as the background.

The quilt top came together surprisingly quickly, given all the many pieces. I had a lot of fun piecing it and watching the blocky owl shape emerge from the piles of carefully labeled strips of fabric.

quilt detail in the owl's head
I am really happy with how I chose to quilt this project. I stitched in the ditch around all the edges of the owl to begin with, and then filled in the owl's face and body with straight lines. Then in the owl's head, I quilted a herringbone pattern to suggest feathers. It took approximately forever, and my quilting got less precise as I went along. For the body, I just quilted the straight lines - I decided the herringbone "feathers" were more important in the owl's head, and continuing the pattern in the body would be too busy and too time-consuming.

So after I finished all my straight lines and herringbone quilting, I got to the fun part: the purple background. I decided to free-motion quilt stars, so that it would look like the owl was sitting against a starry night sky. I practiced the stars (inspired by this tutorial) in both white and purple thread, and decided I vastly preferred the stars in purple thread. The white would have made more literal sense, but would have dominated the quilt and I really wanted the owl to be the focus. So I quilted hundreds of stars in purple thread on the purple background. For the "whites" of the owl's eyes, I used stippling. I wanted the eyes to be different than the background, but also soft and not densely quilted.

The technique I used was pretty easy - I just created a star shape and then echo-quilted around it a few times before branching off and creating a new star shape. There were a few instances when I sort of forgot how to draw a star, especially when I was doing it at a weird angle, and so there are a few wonky stars. But since there are so many stars and no one star stands out, it doesn't much matter if a few are odd.
super wonky star
I backed the quilt in a super soft navy blue flannel. The white stitching of the owl's head and body stands out really clearly on the back of the quilt - so no matter which side is showing, the owl is present. There were about a million little threads to clip on the back, due to all the stopping and starting I had to do when straight-line quilting. Hopefully I got them all!
owl ghost on back of the quilt
The stars show up on the back of the quilt as well, but are not obvious. The purple blends nicely with the navy blue, and the texture created by the star shapes feels great with the flannel.

quilting on the back
The only thing I don't love about the quilting is how dense it all turned out. The quilt is still soft, but it isn't as pliable as some others I have quilted. I don't mind a slightly stiffer quilt, but I hope this one softens up a bit as it is washed and used.

I bound the quilt in a homemade navy and white striped binding. I chose the striped fabric because it coordinated nicely with the back of the quilt and the white owl, and it added a little visual interest. Once again, the binding was my nemesis on this quilt. Due to the inconsistencies of cutting, piecing, pressing and binding, the stripes got a little warped (as you can probably see above). I still love the striped binding - and overall I had an easier time attaching the binding to this quilt than I usually do - but it isn't perfect.

look at that tail twitch possessively!
sassy is going to miss this quilt!
I am happy to report that the quilt was well received!

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