Making the Cat NotQuilt



This is the current NotQuilt project. The guts are an old comforter, very old. I have no idea where it came from. It’s for a queen-size bed. As with all NotQuilts, the size of the finished product is determined by the size of the filling.

cat comforter notquilt

This one is being worked in a roundabout, bassackward fashion, which I do not recommend because of how much extra work this causes. As you can see from the photograph, the front (an ugly shade of dull dead rose pink) has many patches already sewn down. The back (an ugly shade of beige) has no fashion fabric backing. This is the original comforter backing and it is getting up there in years.

Under normal circumstances, I would sew on the backing first. Alas, this NotQuilt was started many years ago, at the beginning of the learning curve, and set aside.

What happened was that a few holes had appeared in the comforter, and Older Son helpfully pointed them out to me. I asked him what material he wanted to patch the holes and he wanted cats. So I sewed patches onto the comforter’s face. I covered up the holes (there were several) and then I sewed on a few more. Thus, we get the random patches as seen in the photo.

The comforter got pressed back into service and I forgot about it for a decade or so. Older Son recently moved out (yes, eventually your children do leave the nest! Hurrah! No empty nest syndrome for me!) The comforter was rediscovered at the bottom of his black hole of a closet.

I examined it closely. Would it be worth converting over into a fully fledged NotQuilt? It’s in decent shape. It was paid for long ago. I can always use another one. I have Rubbermaid bins full of fabric waiting to be used.

I have a book to write on how to make NotQuilts.

Sure, why not?

The first problem presented itself immediately: There is no backing. Should I sew on a backing? Yes, I should, as the original fabric is old and will eventually tear and shred. It’s much easier to put on a backing fabric at the beginning of the process. Then each patch sewn down will help hold the backing fabric in place.

The second problem then presented itself. I had sewn a number of patches down, all of cat fabric. The fabric itself was not an issue; it was the randomness of it all. I like my NotQuilts to look, well, less busily crazy. They are already so random that adding an underlying structure gives them a more coherent, planned, and controlled look.

What to do, what to do. In addition, I had sewn down two pieces of cat fabric that overlapped. These were the only two pieces that did so. Did I want my future cat pieces to overlap?

I spent some time thinking about it. I went through the stash and found all the remaining pieces of cat-patterned fabric. The answer came.

I unpicked the overlaying piece of fabric and completely removed the underlaying piece. I don’t want any of my large pieces touching as I want some kind of a frame or set that binds them all together. For you non-quilters, quilting blocks are often separated one from another by strips of fabric, usually of a solid color. Think of it as the wooden panes that divide windows. These strips are called the sets or frames. They help impose order.

What I will do is:

First: Dig through the stash and sew on backing material.

Second: Finish sewing on the random pieces of cat fabric and ensure none of them touch each other. There will always be a gap of two or three inches between each piece.

Third: Take two large pieces of cat fabric and use those two pieces — and only those two pieces — as the set fabric. These green pieces will tie the design together.

Fourth: Dig through the stash and find something acceptable as a binding. It won’t have cats on it as I have no cat fabric left and I’m not going to buy any. Maybe something geometric to contrast with the cats. We’ll see what surfaces.

This is designing the long way around as by now when I make a NotQuilt, I sew the backing on first, followed by a geometric set of fabric strips that defines the areas that will hold the patches. The geometric set can be squares or diamonds or a set of plaid lines. It gives structure to the design. The edges of the patches overlay, at somewhat random lengths, the edges of the strips.

In the case of the cat comforter, the design will be quite a bit smoother where the pieces meet up.

As I sew this up, Dear Daughter will take pictures and I’ll write it up so you can see exactically how I make a NotQuilt.