FINISHED: Cat Lady Quilt (Em will have to fight Quesnel for it, though…)

This quilt has been a long time comin’…

I think Em asked for this Cotton + Steel Cat Lady fabric for their…twelfth birthday? They were into quilting at the time, but the interest waned soon after. So it sat on my fabric shelf for years upon years until I decided to make it up into a quilt for Em’s sixteenth birthday two years ago. I only got the top finished and presented that to the birthday kid with the promise to get it completely finished soon after. BUT…it was 2020, I had just started my Blank Quilting ambassadorship and…it was 2020.

So the Cat Lady quilt went into the hibernation pile and did not come back out until this month. Em will turn eighteen next month (!) and it just started bugging me that this quilt wasn’t done, so I made a goal to finish it before their birthday. Ta da!


Pattern: Layers of Charm, by Fat Quarter Shop. I’ve made this pattern before and really love it for those prints you just don’t want to cut up too much. C+S prints are generally super cute and I like to keep them as intact as possible, so this was a good pattern for that.

Modifications: I went with a 6×8 layout for a bigger throw quilt ~57 x 76″.

Fabric: “Cat Lady” collection, by Sarah Watts for Cotton + Steel, ca. 2015. I also added in various other Cotton + Steel scraps I had in my stash that I thought Em would like.

Backing: “Cuddly Kittens Flannel Sorbet Kitten Faces #18119” by Wendy Kendall for Robert Kaufman Fabrics, 4.75 yards, pieced vertically.

Quilting: Aurifil 40 wt. in top and bobbin, #2021. I asked Em what they wanted for the quilting and they said, “That wavy line quilting,” so I stipple-stitched it. It’s been a long time since I’ve done free-motion quilting of any kind, and I think this is the biggest project I’ve ever free-motion quilted.

Binding: Scraps of the C+S Bluebird print I had from my friend making a dress from it.

Dates: Pieced January 27-30, 2020; Quilted January 4-7, 2022

I was so excited to get this done, and asked Em to do a photoshoot with it, but when it came time to do it, they were taking a nap. Undaunted, I decided to just do a one-woman shoot with the couch to help me out because…want to be done. But, weirdly, our cat Quesnel became OBSESSED with getting in my face while I tried to take pictures of this quilt, and the resulting photos are…well:

Trying to lick the camera lens (?!?!?!)

Mercifully, Em stumbled into the room after hearing me asking Quesnel to please stop getting in my shots, and Quesnel was momentarily distracted.

I asked Em if they’d help me out with some more photos, and they were less than enthusiastic about the task.

So I made it work.

All while being supervised by the true overlord of this house:

I’m surrounded by crazy children and cats all the time, and I’m loving the photographic evidence that I acquire when they’re being especially difficult.


Bed Rest, Weeks 1-3


…had some surgery in November, which wasn’t supposed to take that long to recover from, but then, at the one-week follow-up appointment, my doctor broke the news that I needed to stay in bed for another five weeks.  So I went from expecting one week of lying around to SIX WEEKS.  DURING THE HOLIDAYS.

The six-week follow-up appointment happens during the week before Christmas, so I’m pretty much stuck in bed, drooling over all the gorgeous Instagram posts of beautiful Christmas quilts and lamenting that I can’t finish all the stuff that I promised myself that I was going to finally finish up this year.  2016 has not been a banner year for me, people.

BUT…I do not want to be one of those people who mopes about and whines about their difficulties, so that has meant trying to stay “busy” despite the bed rest.

Week #1:

I spent the days leading up to my surgery frantically finishing up a quilt to the point where I’d only have the hand stitching of the binding left to do.  During my first week post-op, I finished hand stitching the binding.  Then I designed some alterations for a dress I own that’s too short on me, and, inspired by the idea of sewing clothing, I read Couture Sewing Techniques, which then had me researching Christian Dior-everything for a few days.

Week #2:

After receiving the very unexpected news of another five weeks of bed rest, I panicked and decided to start a Christmas EPP quilt, but after finishing two of the blocks I realized that I didn’t actually want to make it and abandoned it.  I’ll keep the blocks for something else in the future.

Then I decided that the quilt label for the quilt I’d just finished binding could use a little extra pizazz, so I opted to embroider parts of it, which took the rest of the week and little of the next.  (There is a lot of napping happening during my day.)


I also read The Art of Manipulating Fabric, and Draping: The Complete Course.  I’m seeing some garment construction in my future, and I’m excited.  I have three daughters who are about to embark upon their teenage years, and I’ve always thought that one of the funnest parts of having girls would be making their party and dance dresses, and it’s always good to practice a skill before you actually *need* it, so maybe next year will see me venture into that arena a bit.

Week #3:

Thanksgiving, which had to be delegated to my kids and they did a pretty great job of it.  A friend from my quilt guild saw my SOS Instagram post and brought me over a ton of books to read, so I spent most of my third week reading:

  1. A Curse Dark as Gold (very good retelling of “Rumpelstiltskin!”)
  2. Dragonfly (enjoyed very much!)
  3. Once Upon a Marigold (not sure I’ll finish it), and
  4. The Blue Sword (enjoying)

So here we are, amidst Week #4, and I was really hoping that my doctor’s “six weeks” prescription was just overly cautious, but I tried to sew up the swap block for November this week and it about killed me with pain and exhaustion to just do a fabric pull, so I had to send out an email apologizing for the block’s tardiness because it will not be getting finished anytime soon.  And, as a precaution, I wrote to December’s swap recipient as well and gave her a heads-up that her block could end up being late as well.  Sigh.

BUT…I woke up from this surgery with NO BACK PAIN for the first time in three years, so the future is looking mighty bright!  I can rest three more weeks if it means no back pain.

And, for Week #4, I’m feeling the knitting a-calling to me…especially:

  • Color-Tipped Italian Cashmere Beanie by Churchmouse Yarns (because it’s beautiful in that wonderfully elegant way that “simple” is beautiful)
  • Honeymoon Cowl by FitzBirch Crafts (learning double knit could be fun)
  • Botanical Yoke Pullover by Purl Soho (oh, that cabled yoke…will have to wait, but it’s sure fun to stare at it when I can)
  • St. Brendan by Kelbourne Woolens (I’m making this some day, but not now because it takes some planning), or
  • Socks! (Because I can do that…)

My son does need a new winter hat…I think my second daughter might need one, too…OH! And I was supposed to mend my youngest daughter’s Hello Kitty hat…bed rest or not, a mama’s work is never done.  I cannot wait to get back to making pancakes, and vacuuming, and cooking dinners that don’t come from a box.  Resting is a nice change, but it’s sucky to be forced to rest from taking care of the people you love.