You’re busy working on a quilt.
Your cat, meanwhile, is busy swatting at the string, sleeping on the fabric, and trying to sit on your lap while you sew.
If this scene seems familiar, these tips are for you.
Accept the Car Hair-for now
Unless you have a dedicated sewing room that you can shut your cat(s) out of, just accept that they are going to find and snuggle in your fabric. My cat, Ben, thinks that everything soft in the house is there for his personal benefit, and this is especially true when I am sewing. It is even worse because I sew on the table in front of the window, so the fabric is warm and in the sun. It would be a lost cause to try to keep him off of the fabric, or to try to pick off all of the black cat hair as I work.
Instead, I just accept that he is going to nap on the material and get cat hair on it. When I finish the quilt, I can run a lint roller over it and prewash it.
(On the plus side, all the cat hair probably adds a free extra layer of batting.)
Pick the Right Pins
A crucial step to making a quilt is pinning the pieces together. When I have a finished front and back that I need to pin together with the binding, it’s really important that it is pinned correctly and securely. This keeps everything positioned correctly when you are actually quilting it, or sewing the three layers together.
When I was quilting, I kept getting frustrated because pins were missing, and this resulted in lumpy or uneven patches in the quilt that I would have to unpick and correct. It didn’t take long to discover what had happened to the missing pins. I watched my cat for a little while, and realized that he was to blame. He liked sleeping on the quilt, and the pins were not particularly comfortable. So I watched while he very carefully bit the head of each pin, and then pulled it out and dropped the pin on the floor. The result was that he was happy with his napping spot, but I was a frustrated quilter.
The solution, luckily, is pretty easy. I switched to using safety pins instead of real pins. It takes a little longer to remove them while sewing (and you can’t sew over them), but it kept my quilt together securely and didn’t poke my napping cat. Once I started pinning with safety pins, this problem was solved. Just make sure to use small safety pins, as I learned the hard way that large ones will poke visible holes in your quilt.
Get Good at Tension
My biggest difficulty while sewing is normally finding and maintaining the correct thread tension. I used to blame myself for this, and then I realized that my cat swatting and pulling at the string (both while I was sewing and whenever I left the sewing machine unattended) probably didn’t help. I was forced to practice correcting the tension over and over again, and eventually got a little better at correcting it when he pulls it too tight or knocks it too loose. It also sometimes helps when I give him an empty spool or some cut off pieces of string to play with and distract him.