For the cat lover and owner the soft squishy pillows make
wonderful cat toys when scented with a bit of catnip.  I kept
a small stuffed fabric Santa toy of very similar construction
to these cats stored in a can of dried catnip leaves.  When
the Xmas season arrived I’d get it out for my cat and he
would spend the entire season tossing it up in the air,
rolling on the floor with it, carrying it around and then, after
exhausting himself would fall asleep with his arms wrapped
around it.
After many years most people have amassed quite a
collection of “things” from works of art and fine collectibles
to just plain old trinkets, knick-knacks, bric-a-brac, and the
term I particularly like…  chotskies or chotchkies.  I recently
read chotskies disrespectfully defined as generally useless
crap of little or no value.  My Mother could have written this
definition.  She sees my whole apartment as a dizzying
display of dust collecting junk while I see her place, which
has nothing sitting anywhere, as being sterile, austere and
As always, please feel free to tinker with any part of this
project.  Perhaps you want your cats to have button eyes or
you might wish to stitch on simple facial features or draw on
a face with a permanent marker.  With only a few changes to
the pattern and fabric selection you could easily have a
basket of gingham dogs.  By elongating the ears you could
have a family or rabbits for an Easter decoration.  Have fun
with it and make it your own.  
THE Calico Cat should not to be confused with an actual
calico cat with tri-colored patterned fur.  In the poem the cat
was a stuffed toy covered by Calico cloth.  In America,  
Calico is defined as a inexpensive printed cotton fabric with
a small, usually colorful, often floral all-over pattern.  It is
this busy, small-patterned fabric that lends its name to many
other things with multi-colored patterned or mottled
characteristics.  Besides the cat coat color, there is a calico
gold fish, a calico crab, a calico casserole and soup which
are just a few examples to which the term has been applied.
I mention this because this project is just a chotskie, which I
define as a cutesy setter that, while having no deep
significant artistic meaning or any practical use, never fails
to get a comment from the visitor of “Ohhh that’s so cute”.  I
made that very comment when I first saw this basket full of a
mother cat and her kittens.  I spotted it while visiting an
elderly friend’s apartment, commented on it, and when she
passed away her family gave it to me as a remembrance of
her.  So no, I didn’t make this particular project, nor would I
have no matter how cute I may have thought it or how much I
love cats and cat paraphernalia because sewing is not one
of my favorite pastimes.  Even my mending can wait for
months while I work up the energy to face it.  I have had a
sewing machine since I was young and just recently bought
an inexpensive portable that does practically everything
except cut out the material and still I haven’t warmed to the
activity.  For those though who like to sew or are just
learning how and are, or have friends who are, cat fanatics, I
think this project would be ideal.  If you cannot abide “cute”
chotskies with no intrinsic value this project could easily be
made useful by setting the cats on a bed of potpourri to add
a gentle fragrance to the room or the cat pillows themselves
could be perfumed to make sachets.
This mother and her brood were obviously fashioned after
THE Calico Cat from children’s literature.  As you may recall,
“The Calico Cat” is one of the staring characters in the
poem titled
“The Duel” by American author Eugene Field.   In
the four stanza story “The Calico Cat” gets into a horrible
spat with “The Gingham Dog” and things do not end well for
either.  There may be, as is true with many early children’s
rhymes, some deeper allegorical significance to the tale
which accounts for the violent theme or it could be just a
gossipy report told by an imaginative journalist.  If you are
not familiar with the poem I have included a copy with my
own illustrations
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