The Bothered Owl

Alex and Sarah's crafty corner of cyberspace

How to Stuff an Owl (Sarah) September 6, 2009

Filed under: Tutorials — thebotheredowl @ 6:05 pm

I thought I’d write up a tutorial for how I made our new mascot. I’ve never done this before so bear with me. Any typos are courtesy of the kids, who love to interfere with my computer every chance they get.

Right, here goes.

It starts with a sketch

I started with a rough sketch of what I wanted him to look like. I am utterly rubbish at art so he started life as two ovals, one small for his tummy, one larger for his body like this:

Rough sketch of an owlThe curve of the smaller oval creates the illusion of wings, then you just draw some big circles for eyes and a triangle for a beak. EASY!

Then once you’ve drawn your ovals and so forth, if you’re feeling really ambitious you can even colour him in like I did.

Does his beak look bothered? To be honest, it doesn’t help much with the actual design, I just wanted to play with the kids’ crayons!

Cut it up

Once you’ve drawn your sketch, you need to turn it into a template. Like so:

pieces of owly Two pieces for the front, one for the back.

Lay your templates out on your fabric and cut out your pieces.

The beauty of this little fellow is that depending on what size you make him, you can use up scraps of fabric. For the original owl, I used some lovely natural Japanese linen I had left over from making a skirt and some cute owly fabric I used to make one of the girls a dress. The second one is made of scraps of brown corduroy and some gorgeous vintage floral that I scored from my husband’s grandmother.

Once you have your pieces cut out, it is time to start sewing them together, starting with constructing the front of the owl’s body.

You’ll need to pin the two sections of the front, right sides together. This is tricky because what you’re doing is pinning and sewing two curves together. Work slowly and ease the fabric a little with your fingers – kind of pulling and stretchign it a little. If you’re working with felt, obviously be _very_ careful not to pull too much or you will stretch it out of shape completely.

Once it’s pinned it should look a bit like this:

Pinned and ready to sewSideview of pinning

Stitch it together using whatever stitch you like: once again I would recommend something like a backstitch for its strength.

Turn over to the right side and check that your stitches are nice and tight – I find with handstitching there can be a little bit of variation in tension because you are not a machine.

If you’re happy with how it looks, lay the back and front pieces together, right sides together, and sew, leaving a gap to turn it the right side out. Like so:

Bumpy sideNice smooth outside


Now you have a nice blank canvas on which to work your embellishing magic.

I’ll show you how I did my owl’s eyes. I’m using some scrap fabric just to give you an idea.

First you might want to draw some guide lines onto your fabric. I used a fabric chalk pencil to do mine:

Chalk Outlines Sorry about the picture, I couldn’t get the camera to focus properly. You can very faintly see the blue outlines I drew. I chose to do three arches, you can do as many or as few as you want.

Needle for the damage done I used straight stitches and a really bright contrasting thread. I really love the way the red looks againts the colour of the linen. If you don’t have embroidery thread then you can just do what I did and use three strands of ordinary sewing thread held together. It gives you a nice thick line that should stand out well against your background fabric.

Looks like a monochromatic rainbow.Look! An eye! Or possibly a small red mountain...

This is what it should look like when it’s done. If you choose to do it the way I did that is. You might like to applique some fabric eyes on instead, or maybe turn yours into some kind of shambling pirate owl, doomed to roam the seven seas with only one eye and a patch… Hmmm, there’s something in that.

Last of all, the beak, stuffing and sewing up.

Pecking Order

To make the beak you need a triangle of whatever size you like. Small, big, whatever, it’s up to you. I did mine with the fabric I used for the back and top part of the body.

It’s up to you whether you finish the edges or leave them raw. I chose to tuck my edges under and miter the corners to give it a neat and pointy finish. Then I used blind stitch to attach it to the owl’s head. I stuffed the owl before I sewed the beak on, it made it a little easier because I had a bit more resistance when I was tugging my stitches into place.

Et, voila!

He's tiny and beautiful I really love the contrast between the chocolatey brown cord and the orange and pale green of the flowers. I made a skirt using these two fabrics ages ago and they just mesh so well.

Blind Stitch

I said earlier I would try to show you how to do blind stitch. It’s an extremely handy stitch to have in your craft-senal!

Right side edges together First place the edges of your seam together as in the picture. At this point your item should be right side out,  this is the final bit of the seam.

Make the first stitchInsert the needle as shown in the picture. Pull the thread through all the way.

Thread needle into the other side.

Now thread it through on the other side of the seam and pull it through.

Repeat until the seam is closed.All done

I hope that’s nice and clear. I learned to do blind stitch from a photo tutorial a while ago and it is seriously one of the most useful things I’ve learned.


I do hope this tutorial has been both useful and coherent. I’ve never written one before and I now have a newfound respect for all the craft bloggers out there who do them on a regular basis. My brain hurts!

I’m off to go upload some more stuff to the shop, complete with snazzy photos taken this afternoon at the Horniman Museum. I believe Alex will be loading some of her jewellery this evening as well.

Shinies for all!


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