Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Lion and the Lamb

During a "custom" shop hop with a friend in mid-March, I bought this panel by In The Beginning Fabrics intending to make a pillow out of it. Here it is laid out along my counter top, already split in two. I originally planned that one side of the pillow would be the lion and the other side, the lamb.

The panel is titled Spring by Julie Paschkis and brings to my mind the old saying that March "comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb". I decided the pillow would be for my granddaughter Vivian. I loved all the girly swirly scrolls and thought the pink, green, and black color scheme would go with the bedding in her "big girl bed".

I could have made just one pillow, one side a lion and the other side a lamb but then what if Vivian wanted the animals on the pillow to play with each other? She could not do that if they were on opposite sides. I decided to use the panel as fronts only and and make two pillows. I would back them with polka dots. If there are any of my genes in her little body, my granddaughter has got to love polka dots. The lion panel had mostly green and the lamb panel was scattered with pink flowers so I chose green polka dots for the lion and pink polka dots for the lamb pillow. Sometimes unlined cotton fabric on a pillow tends to wrinkle, so I decided to back them with a square of bamboo batting and a flannel backing.

I wanted them to have a bit of texture so I decided to quilt a grid on each between the dots. Even though this approach required multiple turning, I chose to quilt the backs on my Pfaff with the feed dogs engaged. I had to go to a meeting and thought I could knock this out beforehand, but alas it took longer than I anticipated and I had to complete it when I returned home.

I decide to time myself when I did the pink one. Fifteen minutes into it I had the grid completed to only half density. Turns out quilting each of those 20" x20" backs took 30 minutes and one bobbin of thread each. Who'd have thought ... ?

Quilting the animal panels was not as mindless as the grid and I had to decide a quilting density. I prepared each panel the same way as the polka dots, with layers squares of bamboo batting and flannel and then used Heidi, my HQ Sweet Sixteen sit down longarm, to free motion the curvy lines on the pillow fronts. Not wanting to go overboard, I chose to outline only the lion and the two clouds so they would puff up a bit. Using black thread, the stitching lines do not show readily but I like that the texture is there. I also accented the central vein on the leaves and the wavy spine in the border, but left the dandelions and small pink flowers untouched.

I could not resist playing with the daisies on two of the lion's legs. They positively begged to be accented.

And how could I ignore this curlicue on the lion's rump?

The stitching is much more visible on the flannel backing.  My skill level is passable but not flawless, so fortunately any unsteadiness or glitches will be on the inside of the pillow and therefore not visible.

On the lamb panel, I planned to outline only the large items: the sun, leaves, cloud, sun, bushes and hills. I wanted to do the lamb with loops but was unsure if I could pull it off. For reference, the following photo is of the unbacked lamb panel before quilting.

I practiced making little loops. They were not perfectly formed but then neither are the curls in a sheep's coat. I practiced until I determined a size that was large enough for me to produce with being too erratic and until I could make loops a uniform size even if they were not uniform in shape.

I was glad I stretched my comfort zone to try loops. The panel had printed the lamb outline as mini-scallops but I think my loop version spiced it up a bit. The outline has a nice nubby feel to it, too, just right for a toddler's chubby finger to trace.

I outlined the large pink flowers only.

The backing shows off the quilting better.

I inserted a zipper at the base of each pillow. The contrasting colored long stitch length lines were just guides to help me press under the correct amount for the zipper insertion. I removed them later. I was also fussy enough that I sewed the black pillow front side of the zipper with black thread and the polka dot back of the pillow with ivory thread.

I was proud that I also remembered to open the zipper at least somewhat before I sewed the other three edges together. After one time trying to unzip a zipper from the wrong side when it is closed and there is no tab to grip I learned my lesson. Here are the completed pillows from the polka dot side – green for the lion, pink for the lamb.

Here is the pillow front with the lion.

Here is the pillow front with the lamb.

Happy 3rd Birthday, Vivian. Hope you like and have fun with your pillows.

Now that my granddaughter and her mom (who faithfully reads my blog) have seen the pillows, I can publish this post and share it with my online friends at Let's Bee Social #171.


  1. Cute pillows! I love the fabric, and I love the way they turned out!

    1. Thanks. Sometimes I wonder why I complicate things so much. I could have made two pillows (or even one) with no lining, no batting, no quilting. But I do love the texture and it does give me FMQ practice.

  2. Your quilting is so clever! I love how you did the loops on the lamb ... It added so much dimensions. I hope the lion and the lamb are playing happily together:)

    1. I, too, hope they are playing. Even if they are not, I got to play making them! Thank you for the visit and the comment.

  3. Vivian thanks you for the pillows. She is lucky to have such a talented Grandma.

    1. I was just in a quilt shop today buying more flannel for burp cloths for twin girls. I resisted buying another panel that fascinated me but I saw it made up with an interesting approach - placemats! I have an alternative low-volume idea for making up so many of those fabric panels at home that I love.