As one might imagine, we see every type of quilt imaginable entered into the special exhibits for our shows, and that includes all styles, techniques, and themes. But one of the most common subject matters we see in the quilts that make their way to the Quilt Festival office is pets…especially cats and dogs!

Yes, it seems that quilters have a particular fondness for muses of the furry, four-legged variety, and, really, who can blame them? It’s often the case that their feline and canine companions are planted right by a quilter’s side during the creative process, and just as many are designated “testers” for the finished product. (Plus, those sweet faces are just begging to be captured in a quilt!)

For this edition of Friends@Festival, we wanted to share some of our favorite pet-themed or pet-portrait quilts with our readers, so we went right to the source…the artists who create them! Quilt artists Sandy Curran, Tonya Littmann, and Pauline Salzman give us a bit of insight into how each one of the charming featured works came to be…


Fatal Attraction—“The cat in this quilt is imaginary. I drew him from several photos in cat books. I was looking for a malevolent expression, because I wanted the cat to look dangerous and the fish to look frightened, but drawn in.

This was the first fused quilt I ever made. The sky is hand painted, and the other fabrics are commercial prints and batiks. I had made another quilt called One Fish, Two Fish Come Up Out of the Blue Fish (absolutely a mouthful!), which I entered into the $100,000 Quilt Challenge. It was accepted for the first issue of the magazine and they kept the quilt for a couple of years. I missed it so much that I changed the cat and fish a bit and made a similar one with more of an undersea world.”

Benson—“Benson was a much beloved pet of a good friend of my brother’s. When he died (at the end of a long and happy life), he was so terribly missed that they asked her to make a portrait of him and she asked me to help. I wound up doing it myself (easiest not to explain how), and the result is Benson. He is fused and made with commercial fabrics. I also created Party Dog, a color altered version of Benson.”

Charlie—“Charlie is my daughter, Erin’s very distinctive Maine Coon cat. The expression in this quilt truly captures Charlie. He rules his world with an iron paw. Imperious is a word that leaps to mind when I think of Charlie. He is truly a majestic animal. Charlie is my first hand-painted work. He is made in three colorways, and heavily threadpainted.”

Kabuki—“Kabuki was my deeply loved companion of almost 18 years when he died. I missed him so very much and made this quilt for myself, to keep Kabuki with me. Kabuki is also hand painted from three different pictures showing some of his many personalities…playful, loving, and regal.”


Roadie—“Roadie is my neighbor’s dog. We share a gate between our yards, so Rusty (our dog) and Roadie are playmates. The quilt was created as a gift for Roadie’s humans.

I took a photo of Roadie when he was here for a dog party. He has a great smile! I shifted the colors in Photoshop and inkjet printed the image on fabric. I added more color with markers and fabric paint. I then fused the printed fabric cutout to some of my hand-dyed sateen and threadpainted the fur.”

Rusty’s New Teddy Bear—“Rusty is our dog. He loves to shred stuffed animals. He sits behind me at my computer desk while I’m working.

When I heard him ripping his new bear, I quietly lifted the camera from my desk, tilted the screen so I could see him behind me, leaned over, and took a picture. The sounds of the lens surprised him. I quickly took the second shot and got that adorable look on his face.”

On the challenges of capturing dogs in quilts…

“You really need a good photo. I usually only get one chance at a shot. Dogs tend to stop what they’re doing to come sniff the camera. The photo needs to be in sharp focus so you can see the fur detail.”


Teete de Femme Ally—“This quilt is a Lucy take off of a Picasso that sold for 12.8 million. I decided that I could have my own Picasso for less. The real one is pictured on the back of the quilt. There were two of these. One was a little larger, and had some changes. It sold in the Quilt Alliance Auction. Lucy is the dog who goes to the park for people to pet her. She is a prima donna. Notice her wonderful eyelashes and green eye shadow?”

The Great Crate Escape—“Ally and Lucy do not like to be crated. They are impossible. Put them in a car and they have no problem. Ally (on the left) is a hunter…she has a feather in her mouth. Lucy is wearing a jeweled collar and is the driver and boss. The convertible is my present to me when I started collecting my Social Security check.”

Inside There’s a Person—“This quilt is Lucy. I had the appliqué of Lucy done, and it was on a different background. I was not happy with the results. My friends, a “shrink,” said one day of Lucy, ‘Inside, there’s a person.’ I decided she was right. I pulled the appliqué of Lucy off that background and gave her the crown and jewels that she so rightly deserved. The quote is from Snoopy via Charles Schultz: ‘Yesterday, I was a dog. Today, I am a dog. Tomorrow, I will probably still be a dog. Sigh, there is so little room for improvement.’”

Photo cutlines:

Photo 1—Fatal Attraction by Sandy Curran
Photo 2—Benson by Sandy Curran
Photo 3—Charlie by Sandy Curran
Photo 4—Kabuki by Sandy Curran
Photo 5—Roadie by Tonya Littmann
Photo 6—Rusty’s New Teddy Bear by Tonya Littmann
Photo 7—Teete de Femme Ally by Pauline Salzman
Photo 8—The Great Crate Escape by Pauline Salzman
Photo 9—Inside There’s a Person by Pauline Salzman



© 2013. A publication of Quintessential Quilt Media. No portion may be reproduced without the expressed written consent of Quilts, Inc.