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

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

Written by: 
Linzee McCray

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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