First of all, thank you so much to everyone who responded with warm enthusiasm for my foster kitten stories. There’s a followup… but I’ll save that for later.

Several of the projects that appear in my book A Merry Little Christmas to Appliqué are on loan to my pal Debby at the Quilter’s Faire in Palm Desert, California.

When a traveling quilt-show vendor specializing in Christmas expressed an interest in carrying the book, I thought I’d make another version of the project that’s the most popular one… Plum Pudding!

The original.

The original.

It was loads of fun rummaging for the fabrics, and also a little scary. It’s been awhile now since the book came out, but in the scrap bag I found a few leftover squares of the original fabrics used for the patched background! I also had enough of the red sashing and all three fabrics that were used for the puddings!

In my files, I even found the original pattern and tracing-paper overlay! Since the pattern is blown up 200%, this saved me a step. That’s why I keep stuff. You never know.


Once I’d pulled all the fabrics, I started thinking about the great expanse of white that makes up the ‘hard sauce’ part of the pattern. It would be covering a weensy bit of the brown, and also the patched background, and I didn’t want those to shadow through.

Usually, for machine appliqué I would use a double layer to create a light-over-dark motif by first fusing two layers of fabric together and then using that composed fabric to create the motif. This time, the area was so large, and I didn’t want the stiffness from the extra fusible. I thought I’d try something new.

I started out by making two motifs just the same, both with the inside of the fusible web cut out.





I removed the paper backing from both, placed one on top of the other on a nontick appliqué pressing sheet, and tacked them together with a hot iron.


If there are are inconsistencies in the two shapes, just use your scissors and trim them to match.

A little haircut needed here.

A little haircut needed here.

All trimmed and tidy.

All trimmed and tidy.

Now the motif is double-layer and with no fusible web in the middle to make it stiff! Try it! It worked for me.

Stitched block.

Stitched block.

Finished project: Plum Pudding 2

Finished project: Plum Pudding 2

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie

Merry Christmas!!

Disclaimer: What you are about to see contains images of cute fluffy kitties. It has nothing to do with appliqué, so be warned if you must. Welcome to the Second Annual Cavalcade of Kittens!

In May, the Mackenzie Finishing School for Felines opened its doors for the season. Through mid-December, Dana and I took care of seven consecutive groups of underage foster kittens for the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter, 19 little balls of fur all told.

The kitties we take in are big enough to eat on their own, generally five to six weeks old, and we keep them until they’re at least eight weeks, two pounds, and in good body condition. It’s so much fun, and so rewarding to watch them grow from teensy little klutzes to sturdy healthy pre-teens who run thumping and banging around the house.

I’ll let you know right now, so that you don’t wonder or worry, that each and every one of the kittens you are about to see has gone back to the shelter, been found by someone who fell in love with them, and adopted into a forever home.

fleasOur first batch of the year. Three black ones just like the first group last year. They were pretty scrappy looking the day they arrived.

Three more fleas.Velvet, Cricket, and Bennett. They got along fine with Willie, in fact they even invaded his crate.


Cricket was an especially friendly and snuggly kitty. She liked Willie.

Watch the personal space dude

She even helped me sew.

I help you sew that.

The second group were Bailey, Kelly, and Sweet Pea.

New Klingons on the block.

Willie tried to give them lessons on back-of-the-sofa protocol, but Bailey wasn’t paying attention in class that day.

The Klingon-eating sofa.

I'm sinking!

Watching them play and fight is hilarious, and the poses we find them in make us laugh. Had the baby kitty wars actually done Bailey in? Kelly says, ‘I didn’t do it.’

I didn't do it.

Sweet Pea loves her DirecTV.


And now, gentle readers, it is with great sadness that I must tell you that it was at this point that our darling Willie, aged 16 years and 10 months, left us to go to doggie heaven. Those of you who have been reading this blog for awhile know that he was my heart. Despite all this kitten business, I’m really a dog person and it was Willie who made me that way. Dana too. He enriched our lives for many long years and never had a bad mood in his life. We loved him more than words can say.

Bertram Wilberforce Woofster Mackenzie, 1994 - 2011

Bertram Wilberforce Woofster Mackenzie, 1994 - 2011

It actually helped having kittens around, because the house was not completely empty. If you’d like to learn more about our Willie and his long and wonderful life, please visit his dogblog to read all of his stories.

We called our next group of little cats “The Hooligans” due to their spectacular brash athleticism and fondness for body climbing.


Grady, Teddy and Finley. Sure, they look all sweet now LOL!

Grady was the Head Hooligan.


Finley was Grady’s little Mini Me.


Teddy was much more of a sweetie pie. Here he is whispering kitty nothings into Dana’s ear.


Again with the comical poses. You just never know what you’re going to find.

The Cat On The Hat.


Head plant!


The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee.


Next came two single kittens who were put together for foster. Mookie was an absolute love, a calm, pure, sweet old soul in a little body with big ears.


Buff Daddy (that name courtesy of Dana).


This little buff tiger was not at all certain that he was pleased to be put with another kitten. Mookie was very patient with him, and within a couple days Daddy had forgotten all about it, and it was as if they had known each other all their lives.


The next batch was a litter of four fuzzballs. Two looked like seal-point Himalayan mixes and the other two were long-haired brown tigers.


The Himmies are Cuddles and Petunia, the tigers Button and Rupert. There was never a dull moment with this crew around.

Button and Petunia liked to help me in my studio Here’s Button pointing out a needed edit in my Scrap-Appliqué Playground page proofs, while Petunia prepares for a rear attack.


Petunia and Cuddles both have those gorgeous blue Himalayan eyes.


After the Fab Four came the S’s: Shelby, Spike, and Spencer.


Spencer and Spike were tuxedo cats, Shelby a lynx-point Siamese mix. They were all wonderfully nice little guys… sweet, affectionate, and so happy to be at our home.



By this time, kitten season was starting to wind down, but there were still a couple of singles who could go to foster together. First we got Sassy. She hopped out of the carrier and hopped around the living room like she didn’t have a care in the world. A super confident, friendly, and exceedingly cute little girl full of “tortietude.”

Making sure Dana stays in his chair and does his work.


One informal measure of how big our fosters are getting is whether they can squeeze under the dresser. Sassy still fits!


The next day I picked up Jamie, a black/brown smoke kitty who was full of purrs for people, but unsure of the big wide world. You can see it in his face.


The first time he saw Sassy, you should have seen the stank face! Spit, hiss, oh what a pill he was being! Sweet Sassy kept working on him little by little, and by the time three days had gone by he had totally thawed out, and they were chasing, playing, and hanging out together with ease.

This is the first time Jamie came to settle down by Sassy.


They helped us put up our Christmas tree.


By the time they went back to the shelter, Jamie had blossomed into a playful, friendly, very good-natured little man. He had an instant-on purr motor upon being petted, and this also turned him into a talky cat! He did great at the shelter meeting lots of new friends. Just shows you what foster care can do.

I packed up all the kitten gear and put it away for the season. Sad face. It’ll be a long time until May. But then… what should I discover during my regular shift at the shelter last week, but… three kittens in the hospital ward with sneezy noses! The shelter staff gladly sent them home with me to complete their recuperation from their kitty colds.

I’m back in business! I’m so glad, because otherwise it would have been the first Christmas in 23 years without any animals in the house.


Meet Max, Wylie, and Cullen, our current crew. I don’t know if you can tell, but Wylie is about half the size of the other two. Nobody knows quite why. These guys were dumped off in boxes at a pet store. We don’t know if they’re from the same litter, but it matters not, because they all love each other, everyone, and everything. They’re about the nicest cats EVER.

Little Wylie and big Cullen.


The biggest, Max, with his giant white paws.


These guys are still with us now, helping us open our presents. Thank you so much for putting up with my catblogging. I vow to keep it to once a year! Happiest of holidays to you and yours.

By Kay Mackenzie

The extra holiday book giveaway, A Year in the Life of Sunbonnet Sue, goes to Comment #50, Kat! Congratulations! Kat’s birthday was December 13 so that’s very fun.

Thank you so much to everyone who posted and sent me nice birthday wishes. The DH Dana was away in Norway for a week prior and arrived home that night sick and jetlagged, so I put him to bed and we are still catching up on the bday celebrating LOL, whilst I’m doing my best not to catch his cold!

Until Christmas Day, when I subject you once again to picture of cute kittens in the second annual roundup of foster felines.


Enjoy this time!
By Kay Mackenzie

The last couple of years, I did an extra holiday-season drawing to give away a book. It’s also the time of my birthday, which is December 17, and it made me feel like my birthday lasted a whole week. :) Let’s do it again!

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, if you’re a quilter you know Sunbonnet Sue. That simple little girl in a simple little frock and great big bonnet that conveniently hides her face. The first appliquér to come up with that concept was a genius!

Christine Porter and Darra Williamson collaborated “across the pond” to create a dozen small quilts to see what Sue gets up to through the seasons.

The book starts with a section of “Sue Basics” that includes materials, frames, borders, backings, bindings, assembling the wall quilts, and how to add the appliqués. The method that the authors used was raw-edge fusible finished with a machine blanket stitch. They’ll take you through it step-by-step.

I’ll take a moment to say here that the illustrator for this book is the same one who is working on my new book, and the illustrations are fantastic. Kudos Robin!!

Sue decks the halls.

Sue decks the halls.

Sue tiptoes through the tulips.

Sue tiptoes through the tulips.

Sue has to go back to school. Bummer.

Sue has to go back to school. Bummer.

If you’d like to win a copy of this book, courtesy of That Patchwork Place, please leave a comment on this blog post by 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 18. U.S. and Canada mailing addresses only.

Happiest of holidays to you and yours!
By Kay Mackenzie

My pal Cathy sent me a link to one of Bonnie McCaffery’s vidcasts. The Tentmakers of Cairo are artists I had not heard of. Their story is fascinating and the work they do incredible. And so fast! Check it out. It’s a big wide world, and it isn’t really tents any more.

Over at The Quilt Show, Sharon Pederson has been giving a series of lessons. There’s one on easy padded machine appliqué that’s really cool. You do not have to be a TQS member to watch the video.

Until next time, enjoy the show!
By Kay Mackenzie

The winner of Bloom Creek Quilts is Michele of Manitouwadge, Ontario, Canada! Congratulations! Michele says, “Yippeee Skippeee!! This is fantastic news!! Now I know what I’ll be doing over the holidays!”

During the fall, at the quilt show in Reedley, somebody sent a friend to come see me in my booth and to look at all my appliqué quilts, but I had stepped away for a moment. Later they came back and this friend pronounced that she couldn’t find me because my booth had no sign. (This despite the appliqué quilts hung everywhere LOL.)

It got me thinking. Well, the larger shows often provide signage, but the smaller ones usually don’t. Hmm, I said to myself. Other vendors have really cute quilted signs, maybe I should have one too. So I sat down and sketched out an idea for something simple but graphic. I’ve been working on it the last couple weeks and just finished it up.


That oughta fill the bill, don’t you think? And, maybe it will pre-answer the question that I often get, which is, “Did you do all these???”

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie

P.S. The $5 off any order of $10 or more is still on at the website, through December 10! The code is 5OFF.

Our featured book this month is Bloom Creek Quilts by Vicki Bellino.


I just love the soft, mellow feel of this book. Not only that, it has a cat on the cover! Very cool.

Bloom Creek is the name of Vicki’s pattern company, hence the name of the book, which includes 14 of Vicki’s most popular designs. She has included a variety of projects: smaller, larger, with appliqué, without appliqué, traditional, contemporary, some made with precuts, and a few brand-new designs. What a great combo platter.

The book starts out by covering quiltmaking basics, including working with precuts, freezer-paper hand appliqué, fusible machine appliqué, bias vines, and half-square triangle units. There’s also infomation on preparing for machine quilting, making a hanging sleeve, binding the quilt, and making creative quilt labels. Her labels are very cute.

Here are just a few of the projects in the book.

Brandyvine Tote Bag

Brandyvine Tote Bag

I love this bag! The combination of red and white toiles plus the simple appliqué put it right up my alley.

A Pack of Posies

A Pack of Posies

Here’s that soft mellow look again. This table runner is made with one charm pack and a half yard of fabric.

Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays

Since ’tis the season, I thought I’d show you this darling Christmas tree complete with cardinals.

Also included are the Blooms pillow and bed quilt shown on the cover (under the cat) more bed quilts, wall quilts large and small, and sofa quilts suitable for snuggling under in the living room.

Courtesy of That Patchwork Place, I have a copy to give away in a drawing. If you’d like to win this attractive book full of very doable designs, leave a comment here on this post before 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 4. U.S. and Canada addresses only, and remember that replying to your email feed won’t enter you in the drawing. Go the the blog itself and leave your comment there.

Many thanks for your readership, and remember that if you haven’t used it yet, the $5 off any order of $10 or more is still on at, through December 10.

Until next time,