Friday 15 February 2013

Broken Dishes Quilt - Cat Mat

Finding useful opportunities for expressing your quilting creativity is sometimes a challenge.  I love making full size quilts, but the backlog of quilt tops that need quilting in my cupboard is a reminder that large projects are not always the most appropriate project to launch into.  A Mug Rug is fun, but to the other extreme, as they can be small and fiddly.  The alternative - the Cat Mat.

Sparky the Cat on Broken Dishes Pattern Cat Mat Batiks
Sparky the Cat on Broken Dishes Cat Mat
This is Sparky the cat modelling my most recent Cat Mat using the Broken Dishes quilt block pattern.  I enjoy making this size project as I find that the size of a Cat Mat offers more scope to test out new quilting patterns, and to practice some different machine quilting techniques.  Best of all they actually get used, all day, every day, by the cats, as they are placed in strategic places around the house.  Also, they can be thrown into the washer easily.
This particular project used 5" batik charm squares in a mix of yellow, orange, red, pink and purple. The mat finishes up 18" square, with the finished quarter square triangles being 3.5". To create the contrast that builds up the Broken Dishes pattern, I made up some quarter square triangles, pairing up light and dark squares, front sides together.  I then marked a diagonal cross on the lighter fabric, as a guide for sewing.  The dashed lines on the diagram show where I machine stitched the two squares together with a 1/4 " seam allowance, the solid line shows where I cut them, once stitched on the machine.
Quarter Square Triangle Unit Pattern
Quarter Square Triangle Unit
Once sewn and cut, you have sets of light / dark triangles, which then need to be paired up into the squares, which can be seen on the far right of this picture.

Quarter Square Triangles  batik fabric
Quarter Square Triangles - half way through!
With the squares complete, plan the layout, making sure the lights and darks are next to each other throughout.  I find that taking a picture on my iPhone or iPad at this stage is a useful reminder of the layout, as once I start lifting up the pieces for sewing on the machine the blocks easily get mixed up!

Broken Dishes Quilt Pattern Layout Batik Fabrics
Broken Dishes Quilt Pattern Layout 
For this mat, I backed it with a red fabric, which I cut larger than the final size, so that the backing fabric could be brought forward onto the front for the binding, which I machined in place, after I had quilted the mat. As I said before, these mats are ideal for improving your free machine quilting techniques, and on this one I filled the darker triangles up with a smooth zig-zag pattern, which followed the graduating shape of the triangle.  

Broken Dishes Quilt - Backing and Binding Batik
Broken Dishes Quilt - Backing and Binding
I love the Broken Dishes pattern.  I think it is especially great for using up scrap fabrics, the pattern is quite dynamic, and I particularly like quilts which have the same repetitive pattern throughout.  I don't profess to be ther greatest machine quilter, and I have had no complaints about the quilting so far, but then Sparky's eyesight is not too great ...


  1. Love your idea for cat mats :) I have a very large dog, so mine have to be a bit bigger, but we have a few scattered around!

  2. Lovely and brilliant colors!

  3. Cool cat mat! I love that concept too!! Such pretty colors for this neat pattern.

  4. I like the name "cat mat" - I also dedicate my doll quilts for the same purpose as they are much easier to wash than the upholstery and my kids shed a LOT. Love the colors! You said they were charm squares but are they from the same line or something you put together?

    1. I have had them for ages. They were in a pack that a shop probably put together. I find that batiks are perhaps the most forgiving when bringing colour schemes together, but I did base the colours on a favourite skirt I used to have.

  5. This is so friendly and cheerful! I love this idea! Sadly, no cat to use it for, but I'm sure I'll find some use, haha! :)

  6. Cat Mats are such a great idea!

  7. My cats turn every quilt I make into a Cat Mat. I have made some just for them, too, but never thought to call them "Cat Mats" ... good one! ... :) Pat

  8. Loving this... and so would my Quilt Inspector! lol Purrfect for FMQ practice too.

  9. oh my gosh!! This is such a great idea! My cat looooves to sleep on any fabric I stack in my sewing corner, so I usually spread out a square of muslin on top of the stacks, but this would be soooo much cuter! I'm so glad I found your blog, and love the picture of your cat Sparky curled up on that cute cat mat. Thanks for posting!

  10. Cat Mat! I love it! What a brilliant idea. I need to hit my scrap bins!

  11. I came over from find a friend friday and immediately liked your quilting style. Love the cat mat and an excellent idea, like you said, to test out piecing without ending up with an unused big quilt.
    Cath @ Bits 'n Bobs
    I am going to become your newest follower!

  12. Visiting from Find a friend friday. You have a very lucky cat!!

  13. I enjoyed the cat mat concept. Win/win!