Turning photos of a favorite little canine into a whimsical dog quilt design.

I asked our oldest grandson Benjamin what he most wanted for Christmas during last year’s Thanksgiving visit. He said, “A quilt. Because you like to make quilts and I like your quilts.” He chose his puppy Rosie for the theme. From there, my imagination of Rosie’s life began. 

Benjamin & his little pal Rosie.

The design goal…

Over the course of the next days, he added to my growing collection of Rosie photos by sending me another 12 of his Sheepadoodle, in a variety of poses. (Rosie with her head turned in different delightful positions. No worries, I’m not sharing all of them. Although…she’s mighty cute!) She wore a variety of headgear. Ben asked me to specifically include one of his favorites, Rosie wearing a unicorn hat. Thus, the idea of making appliqué quilt blocks of Rosie wearing a variety of hats was born.

Rosie in her favorite hat.

Designing an appliqué dog quilt…

Then, I set about identifying how I would capture the essence of Rosie in fabric. Studying all the photos Ben sent to me, I looked closely for common shapes and detail. I also kept simplicity in mind. I didn’t want to create a lot of templates for the blocks.

Rosie close up, posing for her dog quilt appliqué.

Capturing the essence of Rosie…

I discovered my best bet was to use the same shape of her head for all the dog quilt blocks. Making an additional template for her muzzle, I could shift it slightly into a variety of positions to capture multiple poses. I selected a variety of fabrics for her face, using cream for her head and white for her muzzle to bring some dimension to her appearance. Adding ears, big black eyes and a mouth finished her face. I also added another facial feature fabric under her eyes to give more dimension. Shaggy-cut shapes and lots of meandering thread-painting gave Rosie her cuddly puppy personality.

The practice appliqué dog quilt block.

A Dog’s Imaginary Life

I searched the web for hat shape ideas and then decided it might be fun to make several mini-sized hats for the Rosie quilt blocks. These gave her even more style, as well as added to her model-like poses.

Rosie’s imaginary life.

Ben requested a queen-size quilt to fit his teen-size body. I knew I didn’t want to make all the appliqué blocks needed to get to that size. Along the way I thought about adding other dog-objects: a dog house, paws and doggie love hearts. 

Fabric choices

He also asked me to make the quilt green, his favorite color. I had some yardage of leftover Moda Grunge StarsSpot and Basics Olive Branch that I’d purchased for a holiday quilt. After purchasing a bit more, I started Ben’s dog quilt. I also supplemented the appliqué blocks with simple Star and Spot Pinwheels. In the same color shades, they added some texture to the quilt design but didn’t diminish the main feature of the quilt, Rosie. Leftover fabric from my Robert Kaufman Gustav Klimt quilt project, Tree of Life, complimented the gold in the Grunge fabrics for Rosie’s hats, dog houses and paw border blocks.

Rosie’s Dog Quilt Design: A Dog’s Imaginary Life Tricia Patterson, Designer

The back of the story…

The real surprise is the back of Ben’s dog quilt. I love the antique red pickup trucks we see in some of the Christmas fabrics. One in particular, Northcott’s Santa’s Helpers by Jason Kirk caught my eye because all the puppies reminded me of baby Rosie. So, I picked up a panel and some coordinating fabric (Twin Orchard Textiles Pine Trees & Fences by Susan Winget). Ben approved my idea to use them in the backing for his quilt. Now, he has a quilt for the holidays too!

A dog quilt pieced backing: Santa’s Helpers, Pine Trees & Fences, Grunge Basic, Stars and Spot

What’s in a gift…

This project was so much fun! I feel like it was a project Ben and I worked on together. I spent lots of hours thinking of him as I made it. Sometimes, while I’m making gift quilts, the gift becomes more of one for me.

Making quilts with love,