Cats in the Sampler


Light weight cottons are recommended

  • 3m of plain black fabric
  • Lots of fabric scraps in light, medium and dark tones
  • 173 x 262cm of wadding (68 x 103")
  • 173 x 262cm of backing fabric (68 x 103")
  • 0.75m of fabric for binding
  • Template plastic or tracing paper
  • Sheet of fine sand paper for hand appliqué
  • Freezer paper or similar for machine appliqué
  • Sharp fabric markers for light and dark fabrics
  • Neutral thread for hand or machine piecing
  • Black thread for appliqué
  • Invisible thread for machine appliqué and quilting
  • Quilting thread for hand quilting
  • Black embroidery thread for whiskers and tails

Finished Size

64 x 99" (163 x 251cm) This fits a 4'6" bed lengthways, but with no overhang

Skill Level


You can download a pdf copy of the original magazine pages for this project here, Cats In The Sampler Part 4

In the final part of this quilt, Dilys has plenty of ideas for quilting your Cats Sampler. Her helpful hints are also useful to follow for any quilting project.

Construction of the quilt top

Figure 1: Cats in the Sampler blocks
Figure 1: Cats in the Sampler blocks
  1. Refer to Figure 1 to see the order of the blocks for the left-hand and right-hand panels. Cut six black horizontal strips 2 1⁄2 x 14 1⁄2in and one strip 6 1⁄2 x 14 1⁄2in for each side.
  2. Join the squares and strips in sequence according to the master plan, taking 1⁄4in seams.
  3. Centre panel - cut four black horizontal strips 2 1⁄2 x 26 1⁄2in and two strips 4 1⁄2 x 26 1⁄2in. Join the rectangles and strips in sequence according to the master plan, taking 1⁄4in seams.
  4. Cut two black strips 2 1⁄2 x 99in and two 3 1⁄2 x 99 1⁄2in for the vertical sashing. If you did not cut this sashing at the beginning, you may need to join the strips to get the total length.
  5. Join the panels together in sequence with the vertical sashing. Pay special attention to the positioning of the horizontal strips in accordance to the master plan.
  6. Press the quilt top and place onto wadding and backing in preparation for quilting.


I made this quilt to be handled, used and enjoyed. I wanted the quilting to be completed quickly and painlessly. I did start optimistically to hand quilt the vertical sashing strips with a cable pattern that I stylised to look like a cat, but as other commitments built up, I realised that it would never get finished if I continued. And so I changed to machine quilting, using black thread on the black fabric and invisible thread where I was sewing across the variety of colours in the blocks.

Helpful Hints

  • Safety pin or tack the quilt top thoroughly (every 4in) to prevent any movement between the layers.
  • Check the tension of the stitches on a sample similar to the layers used in your quilt and adjust accordingly.
  • Use a walking foot on your sewing machine and stabilise the quilt top by sewing in the ditch along both sides of the black vertical and horizontal sashing strips.
  • Use a darning foot when free-motion quilting on the the quilt so that you don't have to keep turning the quilt.
  • Keep the feed dogs up if you are inexperienced to give a bit of a grip to the fabric.
  • Be aware that you can only sew what is on the plate of your machine at any one time. Make sure this area is flat and well pinned.
  • The remainder of the quilt should be well supported so that the weight will not drag the quilt.
  • Make sure that you have a good hold on the quilt for greater control.
  • Start and stop each sewing line with about 1⁄4in of tiny stitches. If you have ever tried to undo such stitches, you will know how difficult they are to remove.
  • Before starting, give some thought as to how you will quilt each block, trying where possible to go from beginning to end without stopping.
  • Try not to be too tense and remember to breathe!

Use the quilting patterns shown in whichever combination you choose. Suggestions for placement of the designs:

  • Quilt closely around each of the cat and mouse silhouettes and inside the shape.
  • Emphasise the structure of the box top and sides by quilting three parallel lines of stitching along them 1⁄4in apart.
  • Outline quilt the various patchwork patterns by sewing 1⁄2in away from the seams or follow the flow of the pattern or the lines of light and dark fabrics.
  • Quilt cat shapes on the larger areas of black fabric.
  • Try using writing as a quilting pattern with freemotion machining. I quilted 'cats' non-stop along the long black strips, adding the occasional 'purr' or 'meow' or 'kittens' when I fancied a change.


  1. Trim away the excess wadding and backing and make sure the edges are straight.
  2. Cut binding 2 1⁄2in wide and sufficiently long to go round the perimeter of the quilt (about 335in or 8.5m). Join the strips together at an angle and iron the seam open to reduce the bulk.
  3. Press the strip with WS together and iron to use it as a double thickness binding.
  4. Pin the binding to the quilt, placing all raw edges together. Sew a 1⁄2in seam, making a tuck on the corners to mitre them. Sew the binding onto the back of the quilt by hand. Label the quilt and enjoy it!
Cats in the Sampler quilt
Cats in the Sampler quilt

First published in Popular Patchwork June 2001