If you haven’t discovered the awesome animal patterns created by Violet Craft of Portland, Oregon you need to check them out. You could stitch a peacock, a giraffe, a wolf, or even an owl just to name a few. These patterns require foundation paper-piecing - a technique that I have done numerous times and really enjoy because it allows you to stitch designs into curved as well as pointed shapes. She also has patterns that use traditional piecing, English Paper Piecing, and curved piecing.
My introduction to these clever patterns came last summer when I had the opportunity to make the Elephant Abstractions pattern for a customer who lives in New York. It is a paper-pieced pattern with 94 pieces. After adding several borders the finished quilt measured 70” x 96”. As much fun as it was to construct the top the quilting was even more fun to do. My goal was to make the quilting elephant-y so I chose squiggly outlines in the body and pebbles in the background.
This past summer I stitched Violet Craft’s Unicorn for this same customer. Rather than choosing rainbow colors for the background as the pattern shows she chose varying shades of blues, greens, and purples. As a result the first decision to be made was how to organize the colors. I laid out two options - the first grouped the colors together while the second alternated them. The customer picked the first option so I placed the blues at the top to look like sky and the greens at the bottom to look like grass. The fabrics were absolutely gorgeous and so much fun to work with.
The next decision involved the size of the quilt. The original unicorn measures 60” x 60” and includes 124 paper pieces. The designer offered additional paper pieces as a free pdf to make the center 80” x 80”. This added 72 paper pieces for a total of 196. (I spent 11 hours just tearing the paper off of the top after the construction was finished!) Finally we added an 8” border of grey fabric to make the quilt 96” x 96”.
Having experience with paper-piecing made these patterns quite doable for me and yet I discovered a couple of new things this time that made the process even more efficient. The first was to use the Roll and Press tool before touching the iron to the fabric. This made a better crease than just only pressing. I also discovered that by using my 3” x 12” ruler I could easily determine if my off-set seams were lined up correctly. Because these patterns rarely use pieces cut in squares you can’t rely on just lining up the edges and hoping that it works. Otherwise you will also be spending a significant amount of time with the seam ripper!
After the top was completed it was time to design and execute the quilting. My first plan was to treat the unicorn much like I did the elephant since the piecing and colors were similar - squiggly outlines in each block with some added wishbones, swirls, and stipple for the face. Next I envisioned the background colors radiating out through the grey border to the edge of the quilt. Since this piece is for a little girl I planned to stitch continuous curves and flowers alternating in each color throughout the background. After stitching the continuous curves in the top border I realized that continuing that design into the backgrounds was going to be impossible because of the angles and lack of quilting space available on my machine. So I changed that design to paisleys and it worked much better. Instead of ripping out the continuous curves in the top border though I opted to leave them. I then also did them in the bottom border and it looked like it was a design choice!
I am hoping that my next Violet Craft pattern is the lion but I will not complain about having a chance to do any of her amazing patterns! Maybe I will even try one of her non-animal designs! Have you stitched any of her patterns? If not, then check them out. You won’t be disappointed!