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The Lovely Lion

As a quilter I have always lived by the motto : So many patterns, so little time! Over the years a few patterns have resided on the back burner just waiting for the ideal moment. One of those patterns is the Lion Abstraction designed by Violet Craft. I was first introduced to Violet’s Jungle Abstraction patterns a few years ago when a customer asked me to make the Elephant for her grandson. Two years later I made the Unicorn for her granddaughter. These patterns are foundation paper-pieced and are so much fun to make and even more fun to quilt. The Lion caught my interest because of the brilliance of the eyes. Did you see the eyes??

The ideal moment to make this remarkable quilt came last fall when our oldest daughter, Sara, and her husband, Anson, announced that they were expecting a baby girl in early March of 2021. Once I found a kit in a pink and grey color way I knew that the Lion would be a great addition to their jungle-themed nursery.

The construction of this quilt was relatively easy because of my previous experience with Violet Craft’s patterns. I started by copying the 126 different patterns onto foundation paper and sorting the fabric that came in the kit. The trickiest part of the whole process was lining up the seams so that the edges were straight when the pieces were pressed open.

After the top was completed I had several decisions to make regarding the quilting of this piece. First of all I had to decide whether to use a single or a double batting. Since the Lion will be a wall hanging I thought it might be fun to give it a little more poof by using a cotton batting on the bottom and a wool batting on the top. I used these same materials in the Dream Big wall hanging that I made for Kevin and Melissa’s wedding reception and I was very pleased with the results. The extra batting makes the quilting really pop and gives the entire piece more body.

The second decision I had to make was which thread colors to use. The main colors in the quilt are pink, grey, and brown so I started with those colors in mind. First I matched the pink color to the fabric in the outer border and chose Superior Thread’s So Fine # 523 which I also felt would work well in the eyes. For the grey color I matched the solid grey fabric to So Fine’s #409 which blended with all of the black, grey, and silver fabrics. I thought the brown color would be the hardest decision as there are several shades of that color in the fabric and I have several shades in my thread collection. After looking at the quilt though I decided to match the thread to the solid brown fabric and chose So Fine #454. As I was stitching on the brown fabrics I could see that #454 was the perfect choice as it blended so nicely with all seven of the different browns. It is not always easy to find one thread that works for that many different fabrics.

The third decision involved quilting designs. I identified several blocks that I wanted to highlight and so outlined those blocks with three lines and then added a wishbone design in the center. I also highlighted the eyes with continuous curves and pebbles. The outer border was filled with radiating lines spaced about 1” apart while the mane was quilted with squiggly lines in each block. I also used this design in the elephant and unicorn quilts and it has become my go-to design for these quilts. It is fairly quick and easy to do and looks really cool. The face of the lion was treated as a single unit and quilted with a stipple design.

The last decision I needed to make was to decide between a facing binding or a regular binding. Facing bindings are often used on art quilts and since this quilt is a wall hanging I opted to use that on this quilt too. I used it on the Dream Big quilt and it worked very well. I again referred to to remind myself of this technique.

Now that the Lion is complete I can’t wait to hang it in Baby Opara’s nursery. It will be a special quilt from this first-time grandma and I’m so excited that I was able to make it!

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