Today I’m excited to be sharing with you the story behind my Safari Party fabric line (which is in stores now). I’ve also put together a Look Book for the line so you can see loads of project ideas using the line in one place. With the Look Book I hope you can find a bit of creative inspiration, along with a few fun new sewing projects and ideas!
Inspiration for the Fabric Line
Several years ago I took a trip to South Africa with members of my extended family. I, (like many others I’m sure) left South Africa feeling profoundly inspired and moved. If you’d like to read more about the trip you can find my recap HERE.
My Safari Party Fabrics line is inspired by that trip. Today, I’d like to tell you the story behind the line. If you’d prefer you can skip to the “pretty” photos at the end *wink*.
(Zinna Zebra Quilt and Pillow pattern)
A funny thing happened while we were in South Africa that still remains a family joke today. Before we left I was a nervous wreck, mostly because I had 3 kids to pack for and a 16 hr flight to keep everyone “behaved”. There was also the “not so small” task of making sure no one was lost along the way. As we were preparing for the trip, and while we were traveling I kept telling myself “when we get to South Africa, I can relax”.
We managed to arrive mostly unscathed at our resort, which was located in the Hoedspruit area of South Africa (we stayed at Kapama). We settled into our rooms, I took a deep breath, and I told myself “it’s going to be a good week.”
That night we left on our first safari drive. We delighted as we spotted our first giraffe, impalas and kudu. Before I go on, a bit of a “back story”. We were on a game reserve, the animals are kept there for their protection (mostly from poachers). Within the game reserve the property cares for the land but lets nature run its course and the animals live as they would in the wild. To explore the reserve we rode around in open air land rovers. They didn’t have a roof or doors.
After about an hour into our drive we turned a corner and I noticed a zebra laying on the ground. I thought it was asleep until my 9 yr old daughter said “mom, that zebra doesn’t have a butt”. I looked over and sure enough, it had been dinner for a lion. Not being the terribly queasy type I didn’t think much of it. Until we went another 10 feet and found the lion that had been munching on the zebra. I took a deep breath and tried to relax. I was fine until we pulled up right next to the lion, then realized there were actually 10 lions all lounging in the field… and we were in an open air car with no doors and no roof. Some “protective” instinct took over and I had the immediate urge to take my kids and get far, far away. I was obviously not going to leave the car and just sat there in a bit of a panic for a bit.
While I was panicking internally I looked around and everyone was smiling and relaxed. All I could think was “is everyone crazy? We are sitting in a field surrounded by lions!” I casually asked the guide about the lions, he laughed at me and could sense my unease. This made things worse as the night soon became a “hey let’s see how much we can scare the tourist” adventure.
We drove around more that night with the guide telling me the lions were “used” to the people and think we are stinky and boring. All I thought was “have you not ever seen Jurassic Park? They thought they had that situation under control too”. The next morning we got up and did the whole thing again.
Long story short, by mid-week I sat by the pool and read while everyone went on the game drives. Intellectually I knew I was safe, but couldn’t get over the what I now assume were panic attacks.
Anyway, as you can imagine my kids thought it was HILARIOUS. I kept asking the guides if we could go see some “other animals”, i.e. ones that won’t eat you. There were a few days that we did that, and I took a billion photos of the giraffes, elephants zebras, rhinos and kudu. I could have sat and watched them for hours. They were incredibly fascinating to me. At one point a zebra stopped in the middle of the road and looked right at us. I could have sworn he was saying “hello”. I was a biology major in college and in absolute heaven observing all of the amazing creatures.
Now years later every time we see a lion (at the zoo, in a photo, or on tv) my kids shout out “hey mom, you’d better leave the lion might eat you”. Ha ha funny joke right?
Prints in the Safari Party Fabric Line
A couple of years ago I got the idea to design a fabric line inspired by the animals I met in South Africa. My previous two lines had featured animals and I thought I’d just stick with that idea. I started sketching and sent some ideas off to Riley Blake and they liked it.
When it came time to picking the animals for the line, I didn’t draw a lion, not because I had anything against them (they are gorgeous creatures) but it only seemed appropriate to continue the “mom is terrified of lions” joke.
Instead I concentrated on my favorites the zebras, giraffes and elephants. I added some of my favorite colors – pinks, greens and navy’s to the line and sent it off to Riley Blake.
The fabric is in stores now and I’m excited to share it with you.
In the past I’ve taken a million photos of projects and fabrics and scattered them across various posts on the blog. I thought for this line I’d put together a very simple look book. Something you can glance at quickly when you’re brainstorming ideas for the line. I love to view look books to see how the prints and colors in a given fabric line work together. I hope that you’ll enjoy it too.
Patterns & Projects for Safari Party Fabric
I know that many online and brick and mortar retailers have the line in stock. I’ve added the ones I know about to the SAFARI PARTY fabrics page. If you’d like to add your store I’m more than happy to add you to the list, just send me an email (use the contact button on the menu bar).
Here are a few shots from the look book.
To view the entire book click here.
Just a note, ALL of the projects will be shared here in detail at some point. So don’t worry, I’ll make sure you know how to make all of them. Some are paid patterns but many will be free tutorials. I’m trying to keep a good balance between the two for you guys.
Melissa, do you have the pattern for the bow on the basket you did??
Melissa Mortenson says
Not yet, but I was planning to post it next month. I think it would be cute as a belt also, just need to photograph it and write it up!
your look book is gorgeous!!!
Melissa Mortenson says
Thanks 🙂 Kari was a big help — college is starting to pay off *wink*
Tammy Fulinara says
You did an awesome job on your lookbook very well put together. I enjoyed looking at your projects. Do you have a tutorial for the zebra necklace. It was adorable.
Melissa Mortenson says
The zebra necklace tutorial will be posted in August. Just trying to space the projects out a bit.
Susan L. says
Love these prints! Your trip looks amazing too!
Patricia Martin says
Love the fabrics. I live in South Africa. Have been to the Kruger Park and others. Can’t get the fabric here. Will you send to SA?
Melissa Mortenson says
I don’t ship. I actually don’t sell the fabric, just design it. This is a list of international distributors, I don’t know if that will help you at all! https://www.rileyblakedesigns.com/index.php?p=distributors