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Owl Placemat Project

Owl placemat project

This owl placemat project has been designed by Jane Davies. See more of her work and a list of talks and workshops on her website 

Make this charming owl placemat and mug rug set with fabric oddments from your stash. Many of the design features are added with free motion machine stitching….practice first on some spare fabric if this technique is new to you.


You will need…

Sizzix die cutting machine or other make – or owl template  if you don’t have a machine

Cutting Die – Sizzix Owl No 2 or similar

3 or 4 pieces colourful cotton fabric for owls slightly larger than die or PDF templates

Fusible web (Bondaweb, Heat ‘n Bond Lite) to fit cotton fabrics –   approx. 1/4 metre

Background fabric – 37cm x 26cm for placemat and 24cm x 17cm for mug rug

Backing fabric the same sizes as above

Medium weight wadding – 39cm x 28cm and 26cm x 19 cm

White and black felt for eyes – small pieces

Sewing machine with ability to drop/cover up feed teeth plus darning/embroidery foot

Black and matching sewing machine threads

Baking parchment – A4 in size

Erasable pen if available


Owl placemat project Instructions

Step by step instructions are given for the owl placemat but the method is exactly the same for the mug rug.

Free placemat project

Cut out the three layers of your mat – top fabric and backing fabric to given measurements. Note that the wadding is slightly larger to allow for shrinkage as you sew.          

Iron fusible web onto reverse of colourful owl fabrics. Use baking parchment to protect iron. Leave paper backing in place.  

Using the die cutting machine or Owl template, cut out the owl pieces from 3 or 4 different fabrics. Use these pieces to mix and match as you wish. Cut out two white eyes 3cm diameter and two black eyes 1½ cm diameter from felt. These do not need fusible web. 

Bond applique with an iron

Remove paper backing from each pattern piece and position main owl bodies onto background fabric as in main image. Press in place taking care not to move the pieces. Use baking parchment to protect the iron. Add other features, temporarily using white eye circles to position beak. Put eyes aside for later. 

Tack fabric pieces in place

Set up your sewing machine for free motion embroidery by either dropping the feed teeth or covering them up. Refer to your sewing machine manual if you are not sure. Thread machine with black thread top and bottom. Use the embroidery/darning foot. Place wadding fabric underneath top piece and treat as one.  Tack through both layers with a couple of lines by hand, vertically and horizontally, to keep everything together.      


Projects using applique

Sew around the main body of the owl first, incorporating the wings and feet as you go. Sew round twice to give a better finish. To make a neat corner, stop with the needle down into the fabric, lift the presser foot, turn the fabric around, and start sewing again in the new direction.  

How to attach small pieces of fabric with applique

Position the white eyes and sew around twice. Finally sew the black centres. Press carefully with the iron using baking parchment. Neaten off thread ends.

Embellish with free motion stitching

Add the feathers on the owl’s chest in a similar manner – draw out with an erasable pen or light pencil mark first.  Sew each line twice. 

TIP: Try out your erasable pen on a scrap of fabric to ensure that it does actually disappear and remove the pen marks before you begin..

MArking designs with erasable pen

Draw out wording with pen and sew as above. 

Quilted placemat project

Change colour of thread to match background fabric and sew quilting lines over the mat, avoiding the owl shapes and text. I used vertical lines with the normal presser foot on and the feed teeth up, but you could sew an all over free motion pattern of swirls, pebbles or meandering lines.


Sewing how-to guides

To make up the mat, place the backing fabric right sides together with the mat front and pin in place around the edge. Sew a line of stitching using the normal presser foot on with the feed teeth up and a scant 1cm seam. Round off the corners. Leave a gap on one long edge of about 10cm to turn through.

Finish off a small quilt edge

Clip the corners and trim seams if necessary before pulling the top layers through. Iron the mat, taking care with the edges and the gap. Topstitch all around the edge of the mat, closing the gap as you go. Iron once more. 

Sew some tablemats and coasters

Now make a cup of tea or coffee, indulge in a cup cake and enjoy your mats. Why not make a set for a friend and invite them to a tea party!

For other projects to sew for your home visit our free sewing projects page.