Cherrywood's Lion King Challenge Part 1: The Fabric

Cherrywood Lion King Challenge Bundle
After May's flurry of quilt finishes, my number of June posts has been a bit sparse.  And while you may be worried that I've taken a bit of a hiatus from quilting--nothing could be further from the truth.  There has been a whirlwind of activity in the quilt studio and I finally have some blogworthy news to much so that I will be breaking up this most recent finish into three separate posts.

Back in October 2015, Cherrywood Hand Dyed Fabrics announced they would be hosting a new quilt challenge, but hadn't revealed the theme nor challenge bundle.  Regardless, given the huge success of the Wicked Challenge, as well as my love of Cherrywood fabrics, I signed up and reserved my challenge bundle sight unseen!  A few months later, they revealed the King of the Jungle theme, along with the challenge bundle featuring three tones of gold with one black.  A week or so later, Disney gave Cherrywood permission to use "Lion King" as the official challenge theme.

Inspiration Found in Local Quilt Shop

As the 7/1 deadline approached, I started to ponder design ideas and thought it would be fun to create a jungle themed mandala (more on my mandala design will be covered in the next post).  But first, I wanted to transform the challenge fabrics and create my own original prints inspired by African animals.  For inspiration, I turned to Pinterest, my local library and even my local quilt shop, where I found several bolts of animal prints!  Originally, I envisioned four quadrants, with one section featuring a different African animal:  zebras, leopards, tigers and giraffes.  After borrowing a number of children's books about Tigers, I learned that tigers are native to Asia and as such, would not fit into my African themed mandala.
Abstract Animal Prints Sketches

I opted to create more abstract representations of the various animal prints.  I drafted a few ideas in my sketchbook and scratch paper.  Some designs came more easily to me, while a few needed more fine tuning.

Zebra Stripes

I decided to tackle zebra stripes for my first print, as I had found a small zebra stripe stencil at a local craft shop.  While the rules require you to use all Cherrywood solids for the quilt top/binding, white is an exception, as Cherrywood does not make/sell white hand dyed fabrics.   For stabilization, I ironed on a 6"x 20" piece of freezer paper to the backside of each of my fabrics.  Having the freezer paper in place made it much easier to use a black micron pen to outline the stripes, and then fill in with diagonal tick marks.  It was fun to watch the fabric transform with these repetitive lines.

Layers of Creating Giraffe Geometric Print

Next up was my giraffe print.  I began by marking wonky vertical lines every inch or so across the length of fabric.  From there, I bisected each wedge into smaller areas.  A brown paint brush tipped micron pen was used to add hash marks over these marked lines.  Finally, a fine orange micron pen was used to fill in each area with a spiral.

After learning that tigers were not native to Africa, I needed to find a replacement.  I discovered the bongo antelope had a reddish-brown coat with vibrant white lines.  Using white acryllic paint, I recreated these white stripes along the darkest brown/gold challenge fabric.

Leopard Rosettes

I went back and forth on whether to create cheetah or leopard print.  After going through several kids books on both animals, I was drawn to the rosette clusters of dots associated with leopards.  These may have been the hardest for me and required multiple sketches.  I started with a thick black paint-tip micron pen to create abstract U's and C's, along with amoeba like shapes for my first layer.  I then used an orange pen to fill in the centers of the rosette shapes.

Last up was creating crocodile scales.  A darker green micron pen was used to draw lines at different intervals along the length of a light green Cherrywood solid.  I then created boxes, which were filled in with circles and spirals to repesent the armored scales of the crocodile.

My Fun & Fabulous Five Abstract African Animal Prints (left to right):  Bongo, Giraffe, Leopard, Crocodile and Zebra
Be sure to check out my next post, where I will unveil my mandala design and process...and finally how I incorporate these fun prints and free motion quilting into the overall design!!
A Blank Canvas and Fabric Palette Await Design Inspiration


  1. Wow! I love reading about your process! Such creativity. Well done, Mel!

    1. Thanks Sarah---I had a lot of fun working on this challenge you will see in the next few posts!!


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