Safari Quilt

When my friend Liz saw the animal quilt I posted recently, she thought it would be perfect for young relatives who are expecting a baby.  That quilt already had a home, so I offered to do another one. The parents-to-be are very sophisticated and well-traveled (their wedding was in a French castle and their honeymoon was a safari), and they are decorating their nursery in soft neutrals with a safari theme.

My first stop was Pinterest, where I found these two quilts for inspiration–

A quilt from Pinterest.

Also from Pinterest, saved to this board.

And then I went to where I saw this beautiful Riley Blake design, “Waterhole” (which of course is on sale now, but wasn’t a few weeks ago), so I purchased that in two colorways, with some companion fabrics from different design lines.  I planned to augment with some batiks and geometrics I already had, as well.

“Waterhole” by Riley Blake.

“Waterhole” by Riley Blake. I really love this dark colorway.

I don’t really like the feeling of fusible applique, so I was happy to find this tutorial , “The look of hand applique by machine,” from Pam Buda, at the Quilt Digest website.

I found some clip art animal drawings, and drew around them on freezer paper to make the applique patterns.

I followed the tips in the tutorial to make the giraffe:

1) Iron the freezer paper pattern onto the wrong side of the fabric.

2) Cut around the paper pattern, leaving about a half-inch extra all around, for a seam allowance.

3) Clip curves and press seam allowance over, using the paper pattern to get a nice sharp crease. Then remove the freezer paper, and stitch to the background. (I was more careful on the actual applique; this is just for illustration.)

The ironing took a lot of time to get the seam allowance pressed properly, and pulling out the freezer paper pattern was a little fidgety. I was thinking, “this is more work than making a stuffed animal.”

So for the elephant, I used a double layer of fabric (right sides together), cut two elephant shapes, and stitched around them as if I was making a stuffed toy.  Then I flipped right sides out, pressed, and stitched the whole thing to the background fabric.

I know some people clip out the layers of background fabric where the applique covers it, but I left all the layers, and it is not noticeably bulky there.  Maybe a little bit, but hey, it’s an elephant and they are bulky.

Then I added a few details with free-motion thread sketching.

I thought the design from Pinterest was a little too plain, and wanted to add more geometric panels.  Putting them together was fun, but arranging them with the applique panels was much harder than I would have predicted.  Never have I ever arranged a quilt in so many different ways!  Sashing between the panels or not? Pops of color or not? Areas of stronger color or not?

It was very difficult for me to work with so little contrast, but the recipients had stressed soft neutrals.  I came to appreciate the balance and simplicity of the original design.

I really wanted the giraffe on the top right, but finally I moved it to the bottom, and achieved some sort of balance.

Safari quilt.

I would have loved to quilt animal shapes and continents to reinforce the theme of the quilt, but I quilt on a domestic sewing machine, so I just did a simple meander.

Safari quilt reverse.

Faced edging with batik corner triangles.

I like to use Robbi Joy Enlow’s method of facing a quilt, and I like the little pop of contrast offered by the triangle corners.