Safari Animal Quilt
Back in June, we found out that Pete’s cousin Claire was pregnant! It was really exciting to find out we’d have another baby in the family, especially as we’ve grown so much in confidence with babies since our nephew, Thomas, was born (see his alphabet quilt here).
I knew straight away that I’d like to make a quilt for Claire and David’s baby, especially as they’re both really into animals, and I’d recently seen an animal quilt I’d like to try in an old book called “Patchwork Quilts to make for children” by Margaret Rolfe. I managed to track down a second-hand copy (the book was first published in 1989 and so is the same age as me!). The patterns in the book are really nice – there’s definitely at least two more quilts in there that I’m planning to make; and the only thing that dates the book are the fabric choices.
As usual, I wanted to foundation piece the quilt, as I’m so much neater when I do this. The patterns in the book are a smaller scale too, so I ended up copying out the blocks by hand (and colouring them in) as well as converting them to blocks I could paper-piece. The patterns really leant themselves to this (and actually, when I searched around I found that Margaret Rolfe has written a book more recently called “A Quilter’s Ark: More Than 50 Designs for Foundation Piecing”, which makes a lot of sense.) I took photocopies of all the patterns in case I want to use them again.
I ended up sewing all of the animals with a green background (I’m currently making another quilt which requires a lot of green so I was able to cut down costs by using the same fabric). I originally designed patterns for quite a few more animals but decided it would look really nice as a square quilt. I then embroidered the details (eyes, ears, tails and tusks) on with my sewing machine – I ended up putting an embroidery hoop over the blocks to try and keep things as flat as possible. I wasn’t entirely pleased with the results and it was ever so fiddly – there must be an easier way. Please comment below if you have any ideas. I wondered if it would have been easier doing the embroidery after I’d sewn all the blocks together, but didn’t want to risk it!
The other fabric I used was a yellow/orangey/red elephant fabric which Pete picked out from Leon’s fabric. We didn’t know if it was a boy or a girl, so we thought these colours were a good choice. It was definitely a contrast, and I think it makes the animals stand out. After making the quilt sandwich, I decided to quilt through the layers on the diagonal.
This was the first time I had made my own binding, and actually made bias binding, because I hadn’t realised it would be better to cut the binding on the grain. I didn’t have enough fabric to redo it so I had to just go with it. I later found that most people double the binding over, rather than folding it like shop-bought bias-binding so I’m definitely going to try this next time. I was pretty worried about how it was going to work out, and I ended up stitching the binding to the back of the quilt and then doing a zig-zag stitch on the top; and actually it was the neatest binding I’ve done so far – no twisting!
Michael was born on Pete’s birthday – which meant we had a big day of celebration! I finished the quilt a couple of weeks after he was born, so it took 7 months in total (but I did sew a quilt for Isabella in between).
Yesterday we went to Michael’s naming ceremony down South – we had such a wonderful weekend spending time with the extended family, and meeting Michael for the first time. He didn’t cry the whole time we were there, including during the ceremony – I was very impressed. I was able to give him the quilt I’ve been working on and this also means I can show it to you! I was really pleased because Claire and David are making a Safari themed room for Michael, so hopefully it should fit in perfectly!