The initial brief was for one of my trees, but with giraffes.
I decided that the tree needed to be more in keeping with a giraffe's environment, and had fun drawing out this new tree. The way to do the patches of leaves came to me very early on, and I enjoyed picking out the different green fabrics, drawing the organic shapes and adding the darker and lighter patches.
I wasn't too sure how I'd manage the giraffes, but I'm delighted with them.
I had a few goes at drawing them freehand, but gave up and did an image search for giraffes. It took me ages to find photos of the postures I had in mind (you'd think the upright one would've been easy, but most of them were facing the wrong way, had too much of their bodies obscured, or otherwise didn't meet my needs). In the end for that one I used two separate images; one for the body, and another for the head (the image for the body had the giraffe turned facing the camera, rather than naturally forwards). I saved copies of the photos, used photoshop to define the edges, plonked the new head in place, and printed them to size. Then I traced the rough outlines and a couple of major details, made some alterations, then marked them on fusible web, using separate pieces for the tails and manes.
The pale wood fabric was an inspired choice for their bodies, even if I do say so myself! The bodies, tails and manes (like the tree and leaves) are appliqued using machine buttonhole stitch.
Then I fused a chocolate hand dye to Lite Steam-a-Seam2 and cut out loads of randomly-shaped pieces (well over 200) in varying sizes. Positioning them was like doing a puzzle, and quite enjoyable.
They're appliqued using free-motion straight stitch; I went around each shape twice, but that was still infinitely faster than using the buttonhole stitch again around all those small pieces, and I think it has a better effect. The hooves are appliqued the same way.
appliqued some of the small edge patches using a paler (but heavier) thread, to make them less prominent, and used a few different threads to add some lines and shading (mostly to the faces) with thread painting. This was all prior to quilting, though I did quilt over some of the lines later on as well.
I was especially please with the giraffe's face above; helped along by the (partly fortunate) positioning of the fabric, with a knot accentuating the eye, the lighter patch at the forehead, and the contours working with the face shape.
When it came to quilting the ground, I had no clear idea of what to do until I started, when the larger-than-usual McTavishing came to mind. The lines are about 1/2in apart, to match the planned density over the rest of the quilt. It gives a nice subtle grassy texture.
For the sky I chose the swirly pattern I've been using a lot recently. The more I practice it, the more even I get, and it works nicely to create the illusion of a breeze
The border fabric was a chance selection; browsing through my stash, I saw I'd have enough of it, and it was the right sort of colour, so I laid it out with the completed centre, and it was just right. I filled the border with free-form feathers. For these I worked otu where I wanted each spine, and quilted that first, then just went along and freehand quilted the feathers along each side, filling the gaps as I went. I didn't see any point doing anything fancier, as it would have been lost in the print.