Cats Who Quilt -- Where Quilters and Cats Meet on the Web
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Return to Cats Who Quilt
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Shop Cats Who Quilt
Buy the book "Cats Who Quilt." Buy your cat the "Certificate of Membership in the League of Cat Quilters." Make your cat very happy. Buy other stuff too, like some of the other cat quilt pattern books featured on this Web site.

Stories About Special Cats Who Quilt
Read stories about special cats who quilt, submitted by visitors to this Web site. Submit your own story about your quilting cat.

Sewing Room Safety Tips for Cats--And Dogs
Please read these all-important sewing room safety tips for pets!

Free Cat Quilt Patterns to Download
Free Cat Quilt Patterns to Download

World's Biggest Cat Quilt Pattern Database
World's Biggest Cat Quilt Pattern Database. Find cat quilting patterns in this "shareware" directory of cat patterns around the world.

Excerpts from 'Cats Who Quilt'
Read excerpts from the book 'Cats Who Quilt'

More Excerpts from 'Cats Who Quilt'
Read more excerpts from 'Cats Who Quilt'

Table of Contents
Read the Table of Contents of 'Cats Who Quilt'

Certificate of Membership in League of Cats Quilters'
Read about the Certificate which comes in the book, or can be purchased separately.

History of Cats Who Quilt
History of the Web site, and the book's rocky road into print.

Judy's Page
You can read about me and find out why I do these crazy things.

Needlecrafter's Computer Companion
Here's where you'll find tutorials for designing needlework on your computer, as well as everything you need to know about printing photos on fabric.

Unfinished Objects Prayer
Proof that all our needlework projects come from a higher source!

Men of Quilting
Is there a special guy in your life who helps you with your quilting Web site, who drives you to fabric stores, who humors you with "Honey, but that quilt looks lovely!" when you're too embarrassed to pull it out of the closet? Honor your special guy here in our special feature Quilt Guy of the Month!

Help for Handicapped Stitchers
Looking for information on how to use a sewing machine with a blow stick or help for quilting if your eyesight is failing? Here's some help.

The Rocky (and Sometimes Horrific) Tale

of How the Book "Cats Who Quilt"
and the Web Site Came to Be

Quilty Line Break


Everybody seems to think that writing goofy little books and running goofy little Web sites is a glamorous life. Ha! It took nearly seven years to get "Cats Who Quilt" into print and looking back on it I don't think I would have done it again. The adventures we encountered along the way included being scoffed at by just about everybody in the publishing world, including Martha Stewart's publisher, and tangling with a literary agent who ultimately swindled tens of thousands of dollars from his clients--including the money that we had planned to use to print "Cats Who Quilt."

The saga began in 1995 when, as a sometimes-author of poorly selling craft books, I decided to write a little quilting book for cats. The book would tell cats how to sit on quilts, how to nap on quilts, and other things of interest to cats such as how to turn a sewing room into one's own personal amusement park. It would be a very simple thing, I thought. Yes, I thought it would.

Several years prior, while wishing for a quilt embroidered with pictures of cats playing like the one that my grandmother had once promised to sew for me when I was a kid, I put up a little Web page. It listed all the cat-themed quilt patterns that I had found, along with buying information. The page grew to be very popular, as quilters and cats stopped by to share their favorite patterns--as well as their stories about their "quilting cats." The Web site grew and grew, and it became clear that a book based on the site would be a worthwhile project.

By chance I discovered on the Web the magical illustrations of Russian-émigré children's book illustrator Irina Borisova. Before immigrating to the United States, Irina had worked in the Ukraine as, among other things, a puppet maker, a theatrical designer, and a creator of magical sculptures of animals and other amazing beasts.

To my delight, Irina agreed that the world was in need of a quilting book for cats, and she set her paintbrushes to work giving the cats who quilt endearing personalities.

We pitched the book, which was allegedly written by a pompous cat named Clancy who had already terrorized many sewing rooms in his life, to numerous publishers throughout the United States. Most of them thought that we had lost our noodles. Some told us so. With satisfaction. In fact, we got one heartbreaking rejection from Martha Stewart's publisher that said something like, "We passed this around the entire editorial office but none of us could figure out what would possess you people to send something like this to us."

We went through two literary agents. The first became a minister after concluding that he could not sell "Cats Who Quilt." The second ran off with $14K on a contract he had negotiated for me to write a column and produce graphics and HTML for several years for the Web site of cat food-maker Sheba. (I learned the painful lesson that when a literary agent runs off with your money, there's really not much you can do about it, especially after he disconnects his cell phone. Not even those writer's organization, of which there are too many, can help you. Heck, after a year of phone calls, letters, and faxes, I could get only one writers' organization to even mention my lawsuit against this schmuck on their Web site.)

But the human spirit is a stubborn thing. We pressed on. We truly believed that the world was in need of a book explaining the principles of quilting in such a way that a cat would be able to understand them. Anyhow we had already invested so much time and expense in the book that it was hard to chuck the project. You know how that goes. By this time the Cats Who Quilt Web site had received about 25 e-mails from quilters relating how their cats were also preparing quilting books for cats. Some of the e-mails were authored by the cats themselves. We wanted to wish them luck, we wanted to give them the names of the publishers to avoid, we wanted to warn them about the supposedly cat-loving literary agent who had stolen our money, but were too dispirited by this point. Our book had already penned, illustrated, passed around to many publishers, laughed at, scoffed at, and derided by just about everyone in the publishing world in both New York and California.

We pressed on. We made arrangements for the book to be printed by a printer known for printing beautiful art books. Since the literary agent ran off with the money I had planned to use to print the book, we had to save our nickels. And pennies too. (Sorry guys, I had to tell my cats. No more gourmet kitty food for you!)

"Why am I doing this?" I kept asking to my long-suffering husband John. "Because you have nothing better to do?" he fibbed shamelessly. This is why he is my husband.

I lined my garage with wooden skids awaiting the fateful "dump" of thousands of books from the back of the printer's truck. "No, no, Judy! The printer ships the skids!" advised Tony Hensley, vice-president of quilting book publisher C&T, who provided us with sundry advice. "You don't need to spend your evenings sawing up skids that you dragged home from grocery stores. What's wrong with you? The printer ships the books on the skids." O.K., he was more gracious than that. But he was honestly stunned when I mentioned that I had lined nearly my entire house with sawed up skids that I had hauled home in the middle of the night so that I could drive my car five miles-per-hour down the street and the skids wouldn't fall out of its trunk.

We also hired well-known quilting book designer Christina Jarumay to design a fanciful book around Irina's magical illustrations.

It took nearly seven years to get Cats Who Quilt into print. (Pointless aside: Because my garage was lined with skids for much of this time, my neighbors pressed my garage into service as a neighborhood furniture warehouse, since their garages flood. When the books finally did arrive, I first had to drag ottomans, loveseats, and end tables all around the neighborhood and return them to their owners, before I could get the books in the garage.)

And now finally the book Cats Who Quilt has arrived!

Our perseverance came only from our belief that we make the world a better place whenever we allow our creativity to come to fruit, whether be it through a quilt, a plastic canvas tissue box holder, a lamp with a funny shade, or a quilting book for cats. If our book can bring laughter to even just a few, if it can deliver others from the world's misery for just a few seconds, if it can inspire other quilters to hug their cat in appreciation, why then it all has been worth it.

I had created the Cats Who Quilt Web site because I couldn't find a pattern for a quilt containing cats like the one that my grandmother had promised to sew me. Nearly a decade later, possibly in part because of the popularity of this Web site, there are now many books containing patterns of cat-themed quilts. So many that I don't know which of their patterns to begin sewing. So many that I spend far too much money buying them. So many that I know that my grandmother would hug me in delight.

But I needn't decide which quilt to make, for a kind lady in Maryland, whom I don't even know, whom I have never met, mailed me a cat-themed quilt that she had sewed after reading my story on the Web. Just like that, out of the blue. She sent me a beautiful quilt without ever having met me. What's more amazing is that it looks a lot like that quilt my grandmother was going to embroider for me, with cats frolicking on all the blocks.

Isn't that something? Isn't the world a magical place? It sure has to be if cats can quilt, right?

Give your quilting cat a hug from me!

Yours in Cat Quilting,

Judy








Quilty Line Break

Cats Who Quilt is a trademark of Fruitful Plains. Text on this Web site Copyright 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 Judy Heim. May not be reproduced in any form--in either e-mail messages or on Web sites without written permission. All illustrations are copyright 2000, 2001, and 2002 Irina Borisova. They may not be reproduced without permission. Photos and quilts are copyrighted by their respective artists, and may not be reproduced without their permission.