I was looking for another old file on the computer today and spotted that I still have this from 2002. It was published in the Region 13 newsletter for the Quilters' Guild of the British Isles - a short piece by one of my cats at the time, Takenoko. He was always wanting to get into my sewing room!
Takenoko’s Memoirs of a Quilting Cat (or Notes from a Small Scrap Basket)
Hello! Allow me to introduce myself. I am Takenoko. My name means “bamboo shoot” in Japanese, because I grew like one – quickly! I was the biggest kitten among my siblings, nearly 7 years ago. Early experiences included playing with empty cotton reels, which is why I am so dextrous. I even used to do a bit of embroidery when I was younger, sitting under the frame and helping to pull the thread through the fabric as soon as I saw the needle come through to my side. In appearance, I have been likened to a tiger (well, a young one anyway). I have fine tabby fur with gingery bits and large white paws, which I do try to keep clean.
I was inspired to put paw to keyboard, as there are one or two facts I feel I must put right. I share my home with my mum, Fluff, and Chief Cat, who is a quilter. That is to say, Chief Cat can use the sewing machine, iron and a few other gadgets that are rather tricky for me. However, the time has come when I must start taking credit for my quilted creations. And I bet you thought that Chief Cat made them all by herself!
I share my work out in various ways. Typically, Chief Cat “shops” for the fabric. As far as I know, this means it comes from the same place as my favourite cat food – out of the back of the car. I have tried to check out the car but I am not allowed in it on my own, so I am unable to be really sure how it is made. Once this lovely stuff (fabric and food) comes into the house, its time for some decisions. Taste plays a great part in this, as does smell. Fortunately, Chief Cat takes care to wash the fabrics so they smell OK to me, which is very considerate.
The next part is one of my favourite moments in making a quilt. I inspect the fabric and check out its tactile qualities. I may need to sleep on it for a while, or at least sit on it. I’m not really sure what all this “pattern” stuff is all about but we cats have more colour sense than most of you humans imagine! Chief Cat may think she is choosing the fabrics, but I make sure that all my favourites are not overlooked. Sometimes, I have to insist they are washed again, if they are not quite right yet. This can be difficult to explain to Chief Cat but she gets the message if I deliberately leave a few paw prints behind.
I love to lounge on the ironing board (if you are tempted to do this, be careful of the iron – they are hot and should be avoided). The cutting mat can be surprisingly pleasant too and usually there’s fabric nearby, often neatly folded into a little pillow. Sometimes I have to show Chief Cat the best fabric choice again (humans can be so dim). I have even added my notes to her sketchbook, when she’s not looking.
Then there’s the fun of watching Chief Cat at the sewing machine, too. This is an activity best viewed from above, well away from the machine itself, which can make unpredictable movements. I would say the top of a nearby bookcase is ideal. Nevertheless, it is very entertaining and not to be missed.
Wadding is so important for the right kind of quilt. I have tested out lots of these and my favourite is a nice bouncy polyester one. Those cotton waddings are just too flat for my liking. I have only ever tried out wool wadding once, while it was still rolled up in a plastic bag. It was very comfortable, but I did notice Chief Cat had some problems unrolling it after I had tested it out. For a while, there was a convenient wadding supply on top of the wardrobe in the sewing room, easily accessed because Chief Cat has kindly made a staircase out of boxes and shelves. That disappeared soon after I tested the wool wadding. I am still waiting for an explanation as to where it has gone. I know where wadding comes from though – the postman brings it.
Basting and quilting is where I really come into my own. Chief Cat has a round table and I don’t know where she would be without myself to prevent the quilt sliding off at difficult moments! I lie on the quilt and make sure it can’t more around too much. As Chief Cat doesn’t use a quilting frame I can’t use it as a hammock, but I can nestle in the folds of the quilt and keep it under control.
Of course, the best part is enjoying your quilted creation, even if you have used some extra help to make it. What can compare to spending a lazy afternoon on the bed (the big one that I don’t mind sharing with Chief Cat) and giving a quilt some really close inspection? I make sure I start the day with a snuggle on the quilt too.
I am now giving a lot of thought to a quilt for just for myself, having been very generous about sharing over the years. I am planning something more my size, that can be put on my favourite chair of the moment and I’m even considering backing it with a towel (I have a thing about rolling around on bath towels – you should try it). Should I design in a snack pocket for a few munchies or have some embellishments on it? How about a nice chewy suede tassel I can play with when the mood takes me? Maybe it’s time to check out the scrap box again!