In Honor of National Pet Day: Moda Designers Introduce Their “Special Helpers”

When you work at home, it’s sometimes nice to have someone to talk to, someone who never complains about the podcast you’re listening to or the music on the radio. It’s especially nice if that someone appreciates your work, even if that appreciation is expressed by rolling in blocks you’ve carefully positioned on the floor or stretching out on your ironing board, rendering it unusable.

Yes, the co-workers I’m referring to are pets and in honor of the upcoming National Pet Day (April 11) we asked Moda designers to share a bit about the dogs and cats they love. Grab a cup of coffee and settle in to enjoy their adorable sidekicks.

First up is Janet Clare, who introduces us to Betty:

Betty is the best studio assistant ever! She particularly enjoys participating in photo shoots and over-seeing pattern writing. As well as her role as a design assistant working extremely long hours without complaint for no pay, Betty is also our personal trainer making sure we reach our 10,000 healthy steps a day. She’s even nice to the postman!

Betty and Tony discuss pattern design

Next, Anne Sutton of Bunny Hill Designs tells us about the specialized skills of Chelsea Chihuahua:

My Chelsea Chihuahua is the one I’ve put in charge of color approval for my fabrics. She takes her job very seriously and uses three tried-and-true steps with every collection:

  1. She approaches the colors I’ve selected very carefully. She wants to take her time and make sure she looks at all the colors.

2. She narrows the selection by sniffing each one with her color sensitive nose. Then she carefully moves the one aside that she doesn’t like.

3. Then she steps back, with the color she doesn’t like “isolated”, to let me know she’s completed her job.  

Kathy Schmitz’s cat also has specialized skills:

Sammy helps me draw : )  Luckily she leaves my sewing alone!

Jan Patek’s got both canine AND feline assistants:

A fun subject around here—I have a new English Bulldog puppy named Elizabeth. I have also started designing Table Stand patterns and one of the great things about them is their size. I make them 12” x 25” to fold over the Table Stand so they can be seen from both sides on a coffee table, etc. One thing that I really like about them is that they are small enough that I can actually find time to quilt them. And I get a lot of help from my friends—Rufus the cat and Elizabeth the bulldog and my grandson Jake’s (who lives with us when he’s not in college) dog Dobby, the Welsh Corgi.  My Dad and my brother were both veterinarians so I grew up with animals.

The other day when I laid the little quilt on my foot stool to put it in the hoop, Rufus immediately came and laid down on it. Then Elizabeth started pulling on the end (just the backing, not the quilt). I finally got it in the hoop and first Elizabeth wanted up (that’s a rawhide chewie in her mouth) and then Rufus wanted up too—they get along quite well, and share well too. The piece of red toweling is French General toweling and protects the quilt on my lap. I applique for at least an hour every morning and evening,

Rufus and Elizabeth sharing Jan’s lap
Jan’s completed “To Market” Table Stand
Elizabeth and her rawhide chewie
Elizabeth and Dobbie in a standoff

Next up—Barb and Mary of Me and My Sister:

From Barb:

This is Bella … My dog.
She is a 13-year-old Jack Russell Terrier. She is a fashionista and owns two Sterilite bins full of doggie outfits.
This is Bella getting ready for her Birthday Party. Her favorite place to shop is Petco.
And here she is waiting for the Easter bunny to arrive.  
Mary has a cat named Mia. She rescued Mia from a no kill shelter.
Mia has been blind and deaf since birth. Her favorite activity is unrolling toilet paper.
Mia sunning herself
Mia on her quilt

Polly Minick of Minick and Simpson has a dog with editorial skills:

Here’s Annie helping proof a new book.

Cat-lover Betsy Chutchian has multiple assistants:

This is Hudson, in full regal pose on some quilts that need binding.


This is Molly, who is not really a helper but thinks it’s all about her. She and Hudson are brother and sister, from two different litters. Same Mom, same Dad. Molly is oldest.


Finally, this is Winston. He was the first, but passed away just before Christmas. He reluctantly shared his duties with Molly. Here he is giving the sewing machine some love.

Stacie Bloomfield of Gingiber has a helper-in-training:

We’ve just gotten Rosie, so she is still a puppy. I intended for her to be my studio buddy, but, alas, she has not yet learned the rules of potty training! Soon, very soon, she will accompany me to the Gingiber studio while I create! She is my fuzzy buddy.

Alma Allen of Blackbird Designs also has a helpmate who’s still learning the rules of the road (and sewing room):

Here is Corey. He’s an 11-month-old hound mix. My older son and I walk dogs at Wayside Waifs each week. We met Corey last month. He gets along with all dogs and people. I thought, here is a dog that doesn’t have an attachment disorder!

He gets me up every morning around 6 and we walk about 3 miles. In the late afternoon, we either go to the dog park or to the Plaza shopping center and walk around. I’m trying to get him used to lots of urban noise and groups of people. He seems good with whatever I throw his way.

My only problem is he’s turned out to be a dirty, lying, stinking thief. If I leave him alone in the kitchen he jumps up and eats anything in his reach left on the kitchen counter! Last week he got a stick of butter. This week it was tuna fish! I’d take him back….but alas I seem to like him in spite of his bad ways.

And finally, Kate Spain shares some photos and stories of her extremely helpful kitties:

Franny, Lou, and Roscoe help with just about every step of my design process. They help with inspurrration…
They keep my lap warm while I’m designing…
They kind of look over my shoulder a little too much, but …
They stay up into the wee hours and painstakingly select strike offs for me…

They keep my sewing machine free from dust…

They do sewing machine maintenance whenever needed (or not needed)…

They use my ironing board while I’m not using it…

They help pick thread colors…
They help with piecing…
They keep quilt blocks pressed and organized…
They help with basting…
They help with binding…
They’re always supervising carefully…
They help cut fabric…
They help unpack new fabric collections…
And sort fabric…
And help put fabric on the shelves…

But mostly, they love the quilts when they’re finished!



Franny and Lou

How about you—do you have a stitching helper?

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32 thoughts on “In Honor of National Pet Day: Moda Designers Introduce Their “Special Helpers”

  1. I especially love the look on Franny and Lou’s face! Awe come on mom it’s time to go to bed!

  2. I have a very small bedroom that I took over for my “quilt” room. I got 2 collie puppies 5 years ago now. When they were little terrors I just wished they would come sit with me quietly in my quilt room. Now they do just that but…be careful what you wish for…I can’t move from sewing machine to cutting board to ironing board…no room to walk with those two sprawled out. So when they are in the room I just sit in my chair and do hand work!

  3. I have a cat named Hal who is very interested in my quilting projects. Meanwhile, his brother Cliff couldn’t care less!

  4. Great post! Love seeing all the cats and dogs… We have a tabby kitty, Cosmo, who is my quilting assistant…. He is not quite two years old, so he loves to play, and he makes me laugh…he was a shelter kitty, and loves to snuggle….he is a joy and we are so happy to have him in our life!!

  5. This was great to read and see all the helpers. Alas, my helpers have all moved on to that perfect place we all end up in. None of my pets ever came into my room, dog nor cat(s). They would lie at the door entrance and were content there. It was the only room they were not allowed in. The office was a different story, Aggy my pure black cat, was always beside me on my desk assisting with whatever I was working on! Herc, short for Hercule, was my 28 pound grey tabby. He just wanted to be in on the action, but never contributed. Then there was Trixie, a beagle mix. She made sure all was well with everyone, especially me…she had very bad separation issues. All my pets have been rescues. Though I miss having pets, we are moving soon, so will wait till we are in our new location. In the mean time I enjoy the neighbourhood pets.

  6. So enjoyed seeing fav designers and their helpers.
    I have several house cats and just as many outside, my sewing room which is my refuge. They sit outside the door and look in.

  7. Love. Love. Love this post!!! So fun to see all the antics … er, help! I have a 1.5 year old rescue dog named Gracie. She will not join me in my sewing domain because I sew in the basement and she’s terrified of the stairs going down “to the black hole”! My kitty, Polly, comes down occasionally with me. She mostly likes exploring the basement and maybe laying down for a nap on the ironing board. However, I have to keep a close eye on her because she loves to find the thread on my sewing machine and eat it! Very dangerous. So it seems I pretty much sew unattended.

  8. I have two cats, Minnie and Daisy, they always ready to help. I have to keep my machine covered up or there will be thread everywhere. We did have a scare, as Minnie wanted to play with a needle and it got caught in her mouth. We had to run her to the Vet and have it removed, she still wants to chew on the pins and needles in my cushion. Silly Cat.

  9. What a great post! Loved seeing all the “helpers”. This just started my day off with a big smile. Thanks to all who shared their quilting buddies.

  10. Love the helpers. I have two cats, brother and sister rescue babies, Tigger and Lil Bit. Both like test and oversee everything.

  11. I have 4 cat helpers/supervisors. The 2 old girls, Chloe and Trixie, take special care to remind me never to leave a sewing machine threaded. My 2 kittens, Button and Bobbin, think anything in my hands is a toy for them. All 4 firmly believe my lap must be kept warm no matter what I’m doing. My space can become quite crowded (and hairy) when I am creating!

  12. I have two helpers, Lara and Merlin, and they are the best cats ever. Thanks for your great post:-)

  13. This is the best post ever! I love seeing the family members of other quilters and how much they help with the quilting process.

  14. My youngest pup comes to work with me at the Fabric Shop that my Mom and I have together. He is the official greeter and even writes our newsletter. Unfortunately, I can’t post a photo of him here. You’ll just have to check him out under the comments of this FB post.

  15. I have two feline assistants….Sophie and Jasper. Sophie prefers to supervise from afar or from the ironing board, and Jasper is more of a “hands on” kind of boy, wanting to touch and help with everything.

  16. Totally made my day to see all the furry helpers! I have a Roscoe too and he loves to help me sort my fabrics and keeps my blocks pressed. Thanks for the fun!

    1. This was THE BEST!! Cats & dogs are just ‘children in fur’……
      My dearest departed Emily ‘Dickens’ (as she was called being full of the ‘dickens’);
      a petite long haired callie, was my MOST interested helper. She loved sitting on
      top of my machine or beside it watching the thread flow; she would attack
      when it became too hard to just ‘watch’! Her favorite thing was bobbins.
      She would watch quietly waiting on her chance to ‘snitch & run’ when she
      thought I wasn’t looking–a very sly girlie! LOL Her BEST trick was getting a bobbin I
      didn’t miss one evening. When I went into my sewing room the next day,
      all was in order but as I turned to leave, I tripped & nearly fell flat; I was trapped
      in a web of thread! I got down on the floor to look & free my feet….the entire room had been
      ROLLED!! She hadn’t missed a chair, table, ironing board legs, nothing was missed…..thread
      was everywhere over, under & through all objects. Too bad I didn’t have a
      motion activated camera to record her masterpiece of fun & frolic!

      Mr. Pickles is my buddy now; i rescued him from a veggie market planning on finding
      him a home. HA….we know that story! He isn’t interested in sewing but he keeps me
      company as I stitch. He’s quite the talker though!

      Thanks to all who shared their stories; LOVED reading each one!

  17. Like the others who’ve shared… I too enjoyed this post very much! Our four legged kids are the best! Unconditional love, and lots of (in my case) doggy kisses!! Naturally Mr. Gibbs is always ready to share my snack and if I’m hand sewing a binding on, he’ll have to come plop half his body right in the middle of what I’m doing! Gibbs is a 2 yr old black lab mix who thinks he’s a lap dog! All 90 or so pounds of him!! (And yep… we’re NCIS fans!!) love my sweet helper! He’s a good dog!

  18. Thanks for this great post! I have four cats; two sit in the window guarding the sewing machine, one picks up scraps of material, and the other one holds the record for napping on finished projects. I’d never get it done without them.

  19. My quilting assistant is Oliver (Ollie) an eleven year old Fox Terrier/Blue Heeler cross. I’ve had him since he was 7 weeks old. He lays on the floor in my sewing room and when he thinks I’ve had my foot on the control for too long he assists by introducing my foot to a squeaky ball. My hearing is in a bit of decline but his hearing is phenominal so if the I don’t hear the front door bell he let’s me know. Like all good assistants he considers it is his duty to test the comfort of all new projects. He even carefully inspects (or pretends to) all completed machine embroidery pieces. I wouldn’t know what to do without him.

  20. Wonderful, wonderful says my heart…….I have three rescues, Patra is 15 and white Persian and has her own set of quilts to rest upon in various places. She prefers to sort pins and spools of thread in my sewing room. Garfield is 12 and has become rather lazy but loves to watch me sew from the ironing board..He too, has his own set of quilts and those blocks about to be pieced. Gigi is a 10 yr old Ferrel whom we raised from age 4 weeks….She is not a joiner and prefers quilts on sofas and chairs ,piano and sunroom and dining room table runners. All in all, they are sweet and willing to take over the quilts we make. Thanx for making pet day a very special time…..Patti Adams,Calif.

  21. Hahahaha! I love this post! I work at a veterinarian clinic I have cats… I can relate to so many of the pictures and captions! 😀

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