Sunday, 7 June 2015

Rainbows and Zebras

Sewing and designing specifically for someone can be a very nerve wracking affair. If you are not careful, you can stress yourself out with the pressure. Every little decision can feel like a mountain and you can start to second guess everything.

BUT... If you can step back and enjoy the process, it can be an extremely enjoyable and rewarding experience.

In recent times, many of my most popular patterns have originated from swaps and almost without exception, these have been patterns that I would not have come up with on my own. In general I think that I am beginning to feel more comfortable with the idea of designing for specific people.

Recently I have been working on a set of 24 inch cushions for my family. My 4 year old son requested a lion cushion. My husband requested another design (which I can't reveal just yet) and my daughter asked for a horse.

I must admit that I was very surprised by my daughter's request for a horse head. She is not a horse rider and has shown no real interest in horses, but she remained adamant that she wanted a horse cushion.

Now as I have stated before, I generally try not to redo designs that I feel have already been done. I knew that there were lots and lots of horse head patterns out there and I didn't feel inspired to add to the list.

I had a think and asked if she wanted a zebra instead. I had been thinking over the idea of a zebra block for a while and thought that I had finally worked out how to do it. I showed her my initial sketches of the design and she was sold on the idea.

Next I let her play with my design in EQ7 (my kids are convinced that EQ7 is the best colouring program available!) I loved hearing her cackle with laughter as she tried out totally unsuitable fabric choices and it was great to see her come up with fun combinations.

This is one of her versions of the design. (I didn't have the heart to tell her that there was no way that I could get the fabric to all line up that beautifully!)

I then showed her my fabric stash and she picked some fabrics for her cushion.

At that stage the design was suitable for a minimum of 2 fabrics and a maximum of 6 fabrics. My little rainbow lover chose 13 fabrics and announced that she needed more pinks, purples and florals as well. I guess it really shouldn't have surprised my as my girls is a real lover of colour.

Hmmm... time for Mum to do a rethink!

I sat down and redesigned the block for her and when she saw it, she loved it!
Once the redesign was done, I itched to start sewing.

On Saturday I managed to sneak away to my sewing room and started on the piecing. I managed to sew half a zebra before I had to give up for the day.

I meant to spend Sunday with the kids, but when you have a half sewn zebra calling to you, it's hard to resist!

The zebra was sewn completely from stash and was based around the fabrics that my girl chose. There are so so many favourite fabrics included- Tula Pink, Frances Newcombe, Lizzy House, Carolyn Friedlander, Sarah Fiekle, Brenda Ratliff, Oakshott Cotton to name just a few.

There are hopefully a few small details that my girl will pick out in time. My favourite is the fact that I did give her a horse after all. There are not one but two Tula Pink horses fussy cut into the patchwork.

I must admit that I didn't use all of the fabrics that my girl pulled out for me, but they definitely served as the core of the block and I did my best to honour her vision.

The design itself evolved quite a bit as I sewed and it really brought home to me the importance of trying out patterns myself before I send them to testers. The changes that I made were subtle and not things that would have necessarily been picked up by testers, but they definitely make the pattern better.

This zebra measures 20 inch. I intend to turn it into a 24 inch cushion. The plan at this stage is to give it black borders and to put a scrappy binding around the edges of the cushion, but as is always the way with my plans... things may change...

So there you have it! Unmistakable proof that two heads are better than one. I am so so grateful to my daughter for her help because without it, my pattern would only have been half as good!

I am looking forward to turning this block into a cushion and handing it over to my daughter.

Now I'm dreaming of super sizing the pattern and I can't wait to get started on it!

Before you ask, yes, I will release the pattern, but I want to get it as good as I can before I send it for testing. I'm not sure when it will be ready.

I will link up with Scraptastic Tuesday, Blossomheart quilts and WIP Wednesday

Sew Cute Tuesday


  1. OMG that is so cool! My son is 14 and it is so hard to find patterns that he would like, but he is obsessed with zebras (it is a Z thing, his name is Zach) so this would be perfect for him! If you are looking for an additional tester when it is ready then please "pick me pick me" LOL!

  2. Love it Juliet and great to hear about the process you both went through to create it - Chris :D

  3. Love it and how wonderful to hear the story behind it. Win, Win all round.

  4. I went on Kiwi Mummy Blogs this morning, a link brought me here, and wow! This is so cool! Then my husband saw a photo of your pillow, and for several minutes I then had to explain how I think pattern piecing is done... My husband thinks you're incredible. Hands down.

  5. Love it Juliet - great story too - I can see my (big) girls (who are horse mad) loving this one too!

  6. Looks fabulous - love the rainbow background.

  7. Love your zebra and it looks amazing with the sunset background !

  8. Another awesome block.........a fun one to have on the bed!

  9. I adore this pattern - could be my favourite ! Would love a supersized zebra and maybe one with a body attached! Brilliant scrappy addition to #scraptastictuesday. Thank you for linking up!

  10. Fabulous design. I love the background against the black and white of the zebra.

  11. Everything about this is great! Designed yourself, kids input, and fabulous colors and prints. Glad I had a chance to visit through Scraptastic's link up.

    Julie @ Pink Doxies

  12. Hi, its WOW !
    I love it, so much better than another horsehide.
    wishes from Stoeckeline

  13. This is amazing. Can't wait to make one too!

  14. This is amazing. Can't wait to make one too!

  15. This zebra/rainbow block is beyond incredible. I love that it is colorful and unique. I think the best thing that happened to it was having your daughter pick so many fabrics.

  16. Wonderful design, you are so talented and such a giftet artist.

  17. You absolutely amaze me. This is the most beautiful thing I've seen all day, it reminds me of Cath/WombatQuilts' Sunburnt Country:
    I'm very impressed that even with all those different prints in there, you managed to get the white of the zebra contrasting very crisply! Choosing fabrics that don't blend into each other can be difficult for me, so it's always so cool to see someone do a fabulous job at it!

  18. I've been following your progress on IG and love this pattern. The colors and layout are gorgeous. I can't wait until you have it listed for sale.

  19. That is very cool! Well done.

  20. This looks amazing! Looks more complicated than a horse but very striking, especially in the rainbow colourings.

  21. Stopping by from Scraptastic Tuesday... I love this zebra!! You did an amazing job designing it and then bringing it into reality.

  22. Best zebra ever! Brilliant design and I love the rainbow background. You and your daughter rocked this!

  23. what a joyful and gorgeous Zebra. I bet Leonie will be lining up to test this one! SO cute. x

  24. Just wanted to let you know your zebra pattern hasn't been forgotten, I am trying to be patient but it's not easy in the face of such awesomeness :)


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