Craft Chat

Historical Sampler Quilt: Sleeping Cat Block

Remember my historical sampler quilt?  It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to work on it—in fact, I made this block several months ago, and I’m just now writing about it.  I have a feeling it will take a long while for this quilt to come to fruition, but that’s ok!  I like the idea of a laid-back long-term project with no deadline, the whole point of this project in the first place.

Sleeping Cat Block


To create one 12-inch block, you will need:

Cat Body

  • one 4-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ rectangle
  • one 3″ x 4-1/2″ bar
  • two 2″ x 2″ squares


  • two 2-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ bars for frame
  • two 2-1/2″ x 12″ bars for frame
  • one 4-1/2″ x 4-1/2″ square
  • one 2″ x 4-1/2″ bar
  • one 2″ x 2″ square


  1. Draw a diagonal line on the reverse side of each of the 2″ body and background squares.
  2. Align a 2″ x 2″ body square with the end of the 2″ x 4-1/2″ background bar with right sides together.  Sew a seam on the marked line and trim the excess fabric to 1/4″.  Repeat for the other 2″ block.

    Press the seams toward the body fabric.

    Repeat to sew a 2″ x 2″ background square to the 4-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ rectangle.

    Trim the 2″ block to 1/4″ from the seam, and press seams toward the body fabric.

  3. Assemble the block.  Make the cat’s head by sewing the cat ears unit to the longest edge of the 3″ x 4-1/2″ face unit.  Press the seam toward the face.
  4. Sew the 4-1/2″ x 4-1/2″ background square to the right side of the cat’s head.  Press the seam toward the background.

  5. Attach the 4 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ rectangle to the bottom to complete the cat body.
  6. Sew a 2-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ bar to each side of the unit and press the seams toward the background bars, then add the top and bottom 2-1/2″ x 12-1/2″ background bars.  Press allowances toward the background bars.

Square your block, and Voila!



This is not a historical block, so I can’t wax poetic on pioneer women piecing together symbols of mundane life in a beautiful and necessary art form.  I just like cats, so I wanted to make this block!  Plain and simple.  But I do have some interesting facts about the history of quilting that I’ve found that don’t quite fit in with any of my other historical blocks, so I’ll stick them in this post. Enjoy!

  • Pioneer-era patchwork was a necessity in a time when new fabric was a scarce commodity. Patterns were no doubt passed from one generation to the next and one woman to the next. As families moved, their environment and circumstances changed, and the naming of quilt patterns reflects these social developments. That is why one quilt pattern can have so many names, and sometimes one name is applied to several different patterns.
  • Not much is known about the earliest quilt patterns. References to quilts can be found in a few old diaries kept by women quilt makers, but there is rarely mention of what the quilts looked like. The first pattern ever printed in a periodical was the Honeycomb or Hexagon pattern, printed in “Godey’s Lady’s Book” in 1835. At first these early printed patterns mostly had names descriptive of the quilt’s shape (i.e., “honeycomb”).
  • Secret messages in the form of quilt patterns aided slaves escaping the bonds of captivity in the Southern states before and during the American Civil War. … The quilt patterns, used in a certain order, relayed messages to slaves preparing to escape. Each pattern represented a different meaning. …  Quilts slung over a fence or windowsill, seemingly to air, passed on the necessary information to knowing slaves. As quilts hung out to air was a common sight on a plantation, neither the plantation owner nor the overseer would notice anything suspicious. It was all part of a day’s work for the slaves.  Characteristic of African culture is the communication of secrets through the use of common, everyday objects; the objects are seen so often they are no longer noticeable. This applied to the quilts and their patterns, stitching and knotting.

So here you go, I hope you enjoy this block.  I did!



Block pattern:




* Owen Sound’s Black History:

One thought on “Historical Sampler Quilt: Sleeping Cat Block

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