I’ve been enjoying working on collaborative quilts with my friend Kimberly Einmo. You can read about our ongoing projects in my previous post A Friendly Challenge. So when Cherrywood Fabrics announced their current challenge (http://cherrywoodfabrics.bigcartel.com/king-of-the-jungle-challenge) inspired by The Lion King musical, we both jumped at the chance to do a “challenge within a challenge.” We decided to make a 12″ block each, exchange blocks, complete the other’s quilt top to the specified 20″, then exchange again to complete the quilting and binding.
Because the original challenge was named the “King of the Jungle” challenge (before permission was given by Disney to use the name “The Lion King”) I knew right away what I wanted to try for my 12″ block. Four years ago, a couple of kittens were born in our back yard. One of them was an orange tabby, who we named Billy.
Billy still lives here with us. He’s outside most of the time, but comes in when it’s cold or hot or he wants to check and see if any of our other cats have left any food behind. He’s our big bubba cat. But four years ago, he was a fuzzy, bouncy little kitty.
He was exactly the same colors as the colors included in the fabric pack for the challenge! A little baby lion – a King of the Backyard Jungle! Okay, a great idea… how do I turn this image into a quilt? I had done only one other pictorial-type quilt, David’s 21st Birthday Quilt. I’ve seen and admired photo-realistic quilts, but had never done that technique. What is so great about this collaboration is that it gives both of us the chance to try new techniques and ideas that we wouldn’t normally use. Quilts made for contests or classes or publications don’t offer that kind of playful freedom!
In the photo-editing options on my phone is an option called “cartoon.” It makes the photo kind of like a paint-by-number picture.
This gave me lines of demarcation for the colors. I outlined each area with a fine-point marker, and numbered the colors.
Then I traced this onto vellum, so I could see through it and trace the reverse side onto Steam-A-Seam Lite fusible web. I cut out the fabric pieces and arranged them on parchment paper. (I did some of this in the evenings while I was in Denver shooting my most recent Craftsy class.)
As I went along, I changed a few shapes and colors, but basically stuck with my “cartoon” image. When all the teeny tiny pieces were cut and arranged, I fused little Billy to my block background. I used the Cherrywood black fabric, into which I had pieced narrow strips of green to suggest grass and plants, and embroidered a few outlines of plant designs.
Then it was time to thread paint. I’d never done this before, either. But its basically free-motion work, so I stabilized my fabric, dropped the feed dogs, and stitched. It was actually far easier and more fun than I expected!
Here is the block I mailed to Kimberly (I’m sorry the photo isn’t more clear.)
Kimberly decided to run with the “backyard jungle” theme, adding appliqued silhouettes of the animals a baby lion king might encounter in a backyard! She continued the pieced green strips in the background. I was thrilled with the results when she mailed it back to me! I quilted it using wool batting, and was very pleased with how much puff and dimension this gave the kitty and the animal silhouettes.
I was so happy with how the face looks!
And, because edges just need special treatments, I used tiny piping. And because I’m a sucker for little precise details, I pieced the piping so it is green along the light gold fabric, and light gold along the dark gold fabric.
I pieced the backing using up just about every spare scrap of the black and gold challenge fabrics.
Notifications went out on Friday, and “King of the Backyard Jungle” did not make it into the exhibit. Oh well, I had a great time making it and learned a lot! However, our other quilt – the one in which Kimberly made the 12″ block, and I made the borders, was juried into the exhibit! I’ll show that when she posts about it.
If you have the chance to do something like this, do it! It has been so much fun to work with a friend whose style is quite different from my own. It has given both of us the chance to stretch ourselves and try new things. Now, I’m off to work on finishing up another challenge…