Zoo Family Portrait Block of the Month

This year’s block of the month is my best pattern yet- at least I think it is! This is my third year designing a block of the month for Dabble and Stitch in Columbus, Ohio, and the animal theme is proving to be a hit!

The quilt is designed using photographs I have taken at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium over the course of four years.  If I was lucky, each zoo visit would yield one or two good animal photos, and I ultimately ended up with about two dozen potential animals to incorporate.  In selecting animals for the final design, I wanted to make sure different types of animals and different regions of the world were represented.  Compositionally, it also became important to have animals of different sizes to make the overall design interesting to look at.

Value is an important aspect to the success of the design.  Pictorial quilts can sometimes flatten the image they are depicting, so every color used in the quilt has a dark, medium, and light version. There is also a very dark blue and a very dark red to add even more depth to the animals.  I have never been a person tied to the literal color of things, so the palette I selected has bright, whimsical colors.  If bright colors aren’t your thing, you can use any color palette as long as you pay attention to the value of your fabric choices. If you like the fabrics I used, you can order the optional Painter’s Palette Solids Kit to go with the pattern.

All of these blocks are created using foundation paper piecing, and anyone with a general understanding of the technique will be able to construct the quilt.  If you have little or no FPP experience, that fine too! We made a YouTube video explaining foundation paper piecing and there are general instructions included in the pattern.  We started the block of the month in August, but you can jump in anytime!

Let’s do a quick walkthrough of the blocks.  We have been joking that this is more of a polygon of the month more than a block of the month since none of the blocks are square!

We kick things off with the Koala block.  This one of the most challenging photos to get since koalas sleep most of the day.  This koala was reaching for some eucalyptus, but in this design it appears to be reaching out to touch the flamingo.

The backs of the flamingo and tortoise are next.  I was so excited when the tortoises decided to come to the front of their enclosure for a photo. The flamingos, on the other hand, were always happy to show off their plumage!

Next is the flamingo head and the body of the bear.

In the fourth block, we construct the tortoise head and the body of the frog. Yes, the frog is actually blue!

It was an unseasonably warm winter day that I captured this lion in the perfect pose.

The penguins at the zoo love to pose for the guests and there are so many to choose from, I could probably do an all penguin quilt!

When I started this project, I would have thought monkey photos would be easy, but it was more challenging since most are in glass enclosures.  I finally found success with the Vervet Monkey.

The bear in this quilt is a brown bear who resides at the zoo with his brother.

The red pandas spend most of their time resting high above in the trees, but it is such a treat when they come down to play!

Giraffes are among my favorite animals, so I thoroughly enjoyed watching them for extended periods of time while waiting to capture the perfect pose.

The kangaroo enclosure at the zoo has an open walkway, so a kangaroo may cross your path.  This kangaroo had been an ambassador animal until this year, so it loves to show off for the humans!

The cockatoos at the zoo share an enclosure with the kangaroos, and it is so fun to see them up close.

I loved making this quilt so much that I’m making a second one!  If you would like to join us for this block of the month adventure, you can purchase the pattern and optional kit from Dabble and Stitch!

Quilt Stats

Title:  Zoo Family Portrait Quilt

Size: 58″ x 83.5″

Techniques:  Foundation Paper Piecing

Quilting:  Free Motion quilting on an A-1 longarm

Fabric:  Painter’s Palette Solids by Paintbrush Studios in 25 colors

Batting:  Hobbs Tuscany Wool and Hobbs 80/20 Cotton/Poly blend

Thread: Quilted with 50wt Aurifil in 19 colors

Binding:  Bias binding, machine stitched to the front, hand finished on the back

I am excited to be participating in this year’s 31 Day Blog Writing Challenge hosted by Cheryl Sleboda of Muppin.com, and I hope you will have the chance to check out some of the other awesome blogs that are participating this month.