Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Herding cats - part 1

A number of people have asked me about the tessellating cat pattern. The inspiration for this quilt was my white cat, Pearl. (Actually she was a princess disguised as a cat). She had a small kink in the tip of her tail so this is how I drew her on squared paper. The pattern is very easy to draw and consists of squares and half-square triangles. The size of the square will determine the finished size. I have made my squares 3/4".
The next step is to cut a pattern. You could cut it from cardboard or any other thing but if I am going to use it for many cats or over many years, I like to use a piece of plastic. (this is from a file folder)
On my templates I like something to keep them from slipping when I draw the lines. I put some double-stick tape on the back of a piece of sandpaper. Then I cut strips and fasten them to the back of the template.
One other advantage of having sandpaper on the back, is that you will not mistakenly cut some of the cats facing the wrong way.
Another advantage of the clear plastic is that you can audition the print and mark it to the best advantage.
Here is the cat marked out on fabric. I use a white Karisma pencil for dark fabrics and regular pencil or disappearing ink for light fabrics. Since cats are appliqued together, they need to be marked on the top of the fabric.
You can make as many cats as you wish but here are some points to consider. With each row of cats, the margin moves over the width of one square. That means the side margins are not even. I did not figure this in the first time I used this pattern and after putting five rows of eight cats, I solved the problem by putting cats sideways at the two wide corners. Next point is that each cat abuts with as many as six other cats so it is a bit tricky to find the right placement that shows up each cat.
Here is a sample lay-out. I have done this with as many as 42 cats and as few as 4. 8 will make a nice square quilt of about 38"x38" with a border. Part 2 will follow later. I am greatly anticipating meeting tomorrow with my blogging friend, Lis, of "Piece'nPeace", who has arrived in Tokyo.
Today is windy with sputters of rain from time to time. This is how the street looks ... well, maybe it is a bit pinker than this. The funny part is, there is not one cherry tree in sight. These flower petals came from a tree across from the park two blocks away!


  1. looks a bit COLD to me xx Thanks for sharing the cats xx

  2. Looking at the photo with flowers, I thought that it is a hail. In Moscow is still cold. That is why I can't feel Spring. Thank you for the scheme of cats. I will keep this method for future. Julia

  3. Wow! That is amazing how you make those cats - very clever! The petals look pretty on the ground but they never seem to last long enough on the trees!

  4. That is a fun idea and I do have a lot of cat fabric to use.


  5. Wow! How clever and complicated! I feel confident saying that I am not at a level to do this successfully, but perhaps one day. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Thanks, Julie! Looking forward to the appliqueing together lesson!

  7. Oh thank you for sharing the cat pattern. I love this quilt and it will definitely be on my list for sometime in the future.

  8. How fun the cats are. I am fascinated with tessellations and can't quite figure out how to draw them. I know you said they would be appliqued, will you please show how you do that? Will there be raw edges? I can't wait to see how this comes together.

  9. Cool cat pattern! I can't imagine coming up with an interlinking pattern like this one. Thanks for sharing.