Saturday, November 21, 2015


*sheepish wave*

Ahem, sorry for just disappearing after announcing the Put A Cat On It Sew Along! Halfway through October, I suddenly discovered that I was in charge of costuming my high school's theater production; it had previously been canceled, which was why I thought I had time to run a sew along. Of course, it would be re-booted, but with a different play that required more costumes...but that's a story for another post. Also because my first project was a fail (thanks to mis-measured seam allowances), and then the play took over my life for the rest of the month, I didn't actually sew anything for myself or Walnut. *gasp* Go ahead, award me the Worst Sew Along Host Ever award.

At any rate, here I am, back to say that WOW, I am loving what you guys have made to show your love for cats! I did my best to round up all the IG, Flickr, and blog posts that I could find, but if you sewed and I didn't catch you, post a link in the comments and I'll add you to the prize drawing pool!

Category 1,  Cat Print Fabrics: This category was terrible because all of your guys' projects made me want to go out and buy more fabric.

Adrienne made a cat skirt for Halloween (the perfect time of year to wear cats!):

Megan made good use of the Gertie cat chiffon and made a delightfully swishy circle skirt:

If skirts aren't your thing, there's also this running top that Sarah Jane made for herself:

She also made a pair of leggings from the same fabric for her daughter...lucky girl!

And if like me, cold days make you want to snuggle at home instead of go out running, check out the flannel jammies and neck warmer (with tutorial!) that Laura whipped up:

Chrichrimano made a Seamwork Akita top from this cool neutral fabric with "cattish leopard animals" on it.

While I can see how the no-waist-definition look might not suit everyone, I still think it looks cute! Speaking of cute, check out Cari's little boy!

And then if you're not so into wearing your cats, Ginny made a very useful pouch with a perfectly centered black cat:

Category 2, Feline Design Elements: AKA, I am seriously in awe of the patience of quilters and embroiderers!

Lemonadefish made several awesome quilt blocks featuring quilts, so you should definitely check out her Instagram, but this is my favorite because it's cat-on-cat.

Ms. Lusty's appliqued mini-quilt is also gorgeous:

AJmeows made several items for this category: a cat quilt block,

a cat hat,

and a cat dress! I think I'm going to die now. Why didn't I have a little girl?

After a brief dabble in embroidery, I sort of forgot all about it, but Erica's adorable embroidered cats for a baby quilt make me want to take it up again, you know, in my copious amounts of free time...

Molly's embroidery of a cat head peeking out of her shirt pocket was directly inspired by her cat Potato:

A photo posted by Molly Pruess (@mtoferet) on

Category 3, Actually For Cats: There were only a couple of sewing projects that fell in this category, but I seriously love them.

The Purling Princess made Halloween-themed bandannas for her cats so that they could be festive for Halloween. They're made to go over breakaway collars, which is awesome, and she made a tutorial, which is even more awesome:

It's a black cat wearing a black cat print meta is that?

The Fabric of Time made the most adorable little tents for her cats. I'm seriously tempted to make matching ones for Walnut and SHB!

It's like a Portal game, but with cats!

Okay, that's all I could find...let me know if I missed you. I'll announce the winners on Friday after Thanksgiving!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Everybody Wants to Be a Cat

And if you grew up watching Disney movies, go ahead and sing the rest of with me: "...because a cat's the only cat who knows where it's at!"

If you're not into using (or buying) cat-print fabrics, you can always join in the cat sew along fun by adding cats to your normal fabric/garments. This is also an easier/faster way to join in if you're pressed for time but still want to join in the cat-along! I've previously added cat faces with fabric markers and with appliqué, as well as entire cat silhouettes. One might argue that four cat sweaters is enough for anyone, but I confess I'm still eyeing these pins that I've saved:

Colorblock with applique.
Easy to recreate with a fabric marker even if you can't draw!
I can't decide if this is creepy or amazing. Oh come on, who am I kidding, it's totally amazing.
There are no words for how much I love this.

While poking around Pinterest for inspiration, I also came across some old-timey cat fashion -- okay, okay, they're Halloween costumes or outfits for fancy dress parties -- that shows that crazy cat ladies desiring to broadcast their status goes back at least a century!

I can't find an original source for this picture, but it appears to be a Victorian roller derby girl with a black cat theme going on?
In the category of what NOT to do: put a taxidermied cat bust on your head.
This 1920s Halloween dress has the most adorable spooky cat silhouette on it!
I can't seem to find any information about this image, but I'm in love with the panniers and the little cat corsage. That staff looks like a big feather duster though...

What can I say, those toxo parasites make us do ridiculous things...anyway, I hope these have been inspirational if you're still trying to figure out what to do!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Cat Print Fabric Inspiration

I'm so excited that so many of you are in on the Put A Cat on It! sew along! It's gratifying to know that I'm not the only one obsessed with representing my love of cats in my sewing.

To that end, let's take a look at some of the fabulous cat-print fabrics that you can get from our wonderful sponsors. First, Feline Dezine, which specializes in cat fabrics:

I love these gorgeous Japanese watercolor cats. They've all got names!

Two of my favorite colors to wear are gray and red, so I may or may not have squealed when I saw this print. I've purchased a few yards of these cutesy cats to make a fun dress.

That said, I almost bought these adorable little fuzzballs instead:

I have a soft spot in my heart for derpy-looking animals, so these noseless, goofy-looking cats make me laugh so hard. I think they'd make for great pajamas.

If those aren't sophisticated enough for you, there are also these hipster cats in Paris:

And lest you fear that none of these fabrics truly represents the terrible helper aspect of a cat's personality, there's always these Michael Miller bad kitties:

As far as I can tell, Feline Dezine mostly has 100% cotton fabrics that would be most suitable for quilts and non-drapey apparel, like my favorite fit-and-flare 50s dress silhouette. If you'd like to be able to sew something drapier, though, or more hardy (canvas tote bags?), or more fuzzy (cat blanket?), you can always select a design to be printed on the fabric of your choice at Spoonflower. I love that they print their fabric in the US, and there's also the option of choosing fabrics that are entirely manufactured in the US. I've poked through their many, many cat designs and chosen some of my favorites to show you here.

As a chemistry teacher, I of course am a fan of Schrodinger's Cat:

And as a teacher who believes strongly in the importance of reading, these library cats are a combination of two of the finest things in life:

And as a person who likes stunt dressing, I am seriously tempted by these slightly creepy staring cats -- how awesome of a novelty print dress would this be!

This cat butt print is too funny! There's also a matching cat fronts print by the same designer...imagine a top where the front is the cat front print, and the back is the cat butts!

Okay, let's get serious here. What if you need some more classy, sober cat prints? I like how this print looks like normal polka dots from far away, but up close you see that some of the dots are actually cats!

And if that's still not sophisticated enough, there's always these lovely line drawings. I think they'd make for a nice silky shell that would go with all colors of cardigan.

Lastly, a print perfect for SHB: so that I can make him a cat shirt that's not pink and covered in bows:

What do you think? Would you wear any of these prints? Or am I just a little too over the top in my willingness to proclaim my crazy cat lady status? Of course, if none of these strike your fancy, you can always print your own fabric with stamps!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Introducing the Put A Cat on It Sew Along!

If the mole is the unofficial mascot of chemistry, cats might just have to be the unofficial mascot of sewing. There are so many enthusiastic cat lady sewists out there, and I for one love it when these feline helpers pop up on my IG feed. When I shared my cat sweatshirt a couple months ago, quite a few of you voiced a desire for a cat-themed sew along, and I just couldn't stop thinking about it. After consulting Walnut, we decided to host just such a thing during his birthday month!

Walnut turns eight on October 30 this year, so consider this his cat version of Promaballoona? (But less organized, because face it, I've got a cat and SHB underfoot, plus many student papers to grade; also less alcohol, because cats drink virgin wine.)

So how does this work? During the month of October, join me in sewing cat-related items in these three CAT-egories (sorry, I couldn't help it):
  1. items made from cat-print fabrics, either garments or accessories, or even home dec!
  2. items with cat elements, like applique or quilt blocks or elbow patches
  3. items for cats, such as toys or beds (or even garments, if you are courageous).
I'll be posting my own cat-themed makes, and at the end of the month we'll do a round-up of all the fabulous feline projects. While sewing your own unique cat fashion is incentive enough on its own, sew alongs are always better with prizes, so we do have some little bonus gifts!

If you've ever tried to sew garments from cat-print fabrics, you probably despaired, as I did, when you realized that first, they were very hard to find, and second, that what fabrics you could find were kids' pajama flannels from big box stores with ridiculous prints like this:


I love a ridiculous print as much as the next person, but sometimes you just want something more subtle, or at least more unique (oh, the horrors of running into somebody with a dress made from the same cat print fabric! I jest, of course, because that has never actually happened to me before. If that has happened to you, I would dearly love to hear about it). Well, despair no longer, furriends (sorry again), because Walnut and I are here to help you out. For each of the three categories listed above, I'll randomly select a winner to receive a free yard of fabric from Feline Dezine, an online store that specializes in cat fabrics. Like, there are PAGES and PAGES of them. If that's too overwhelming for you, I'll be spotlighting some of my favorites in another post.

And then of course, if you want to make your own cat fabric with whatever print or fiber content or weave you desire, there's always the print-your-own option with Spoonflower. I'll pick one grand prize winner to receive a Spoonflower Welcome Pack, so you can design or choose your own cat fabric in anything from performance knit (so you can take fake cats running with you, because heaven knows, a real cat won't) to silk crepe de chine (so you can take cats to a fancy dress party, I guess). I've wasted several hours browsing their many, many fabulous designs, so there's sure to be something to suit your fancy (feast. Wow, I really need to stop).

In case that's not enough incentive, for every participant in the sew along, I'll donate $8 (since Walnut's turning eight) to the San Francisco SPCA, which is where my family adopted Walnut's cantankerous but lovable uncles, Fenxi and Gummy. I love that the SPCA helped found the No-Kill Movement, plus they're super active with outreach and prevention.

I'm planning on making something in each category, but I'm still trying to decide what exactly. If you're in, leave a comment with your plans (or lack thereof)! You can also tag your makes on IG or Twitter with #putacatonitsewalong, and join the Flickr group to post your photos. I hope you'll join Walnut and I in celebrating sewing with cats!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Historical Sew Monthly #9: Brown Aviator Cap

After my whole rant about Asian-American history, I figured I pretty much had to make the rest of the components for my aviatrix costume. Since the current challenge for the HSM is to make something brown, I went ahead and made a leather aviator cap/helmet. And then I realized that to complete the outfit, I really need goggles, but that will have to happen at a later date. In the meantime, let's welcome a familiar friend, the Yellow Balloon Head Stand-In!

I only have yellow balloons because they make such good Eyes of Sauron. Much as I would've liked to see the Eye of Sauron wearing an aviator cap, though, I didn't have time for such a detailed Sharpie job, so have a cat face instead. 
Back view. The tabs are for holding the goggle strap in place, like in this cap.
About two thirds of the extant caps I found had their chin strap on the left side, so I went with that.
 Snaps on the other side, like this cap and this cap
Top view. I went so slowly while topstitching and was petrified of making a mistake the whole time. Worth it, though, because look how neat and professional it looks!

I didn't feel like modeling a leather cap lined in flannel while wearing a leather jacket lined in faux fur when it was 95 degrees outside, so forgive the lack of pictures of me wearing it. I'll do proper pictures once I make goggles to go with it!

If I were more patient/had more forethought, I would've gotten leather adhesive to stick the pieces together for the tabs and straps. Unfortunately, I'm not, so I left the edges raw and just stitched them together. Many extant caps have raw edges/edges that are coming apart though, so I feel okay about this. 

As always, I did lots of research via Etsy listings for vintage caps, then decided what parts I wanted to ignore and what aspects had to be kept to get the look. This being a 40s-look, it's probably the most historically accurate item I've sewn, since the materials are all pretty much the same (leather is leather, flannel is flannel, snaps are snaps, etc.) now as back then. After figuring out the pattern, the fun/tedious part was making all the little fiddly bits that make it look like a "real" aviator cap: little tabs to hold the goggle strap in place, ear flaps, and the chin strap. Since I'm not an actual aviatrix, I don't know how my version would stand up to cold winds at some-thousand feet in the air, but it certainly feels pretty warm and gives off the right impression!

Aside from the new-ness of my leather, doesn't this look like it could be an Etsy listing for a vintage WWII aviator cap?

A peek at the insides: The tabs are sewn through both the leather and the flannel lining because I wanted the lining to be held in place somewhat. The second little hole is for the eyelet under the ear flap, presumably for hearing, like in this extant cap

Pattern: I started with this pattern and shrank and modified it to fit my head.
Year: Meant to be late 1930s-WWII
Fabric: Half a leather pencil skirt, originally thrifted back in 2012 for making a leather steampunk corset, but I never got around to it. I lined it with tan-colored cotton flannel, per this description of a similar cap.
Notions: The leather binding I cut myself from the waistband of the skirt, and the snaps and grommets were just from Jo-Ann's.
How historically accurate is it? I'd say highest score ever! All the materials are pretty spot on, the pattern is comparable, and it would definitely be recognizable by people at the time. The only thing I'll fault myself on is that the leather looks too pretty. If it were a real aviatrix's cap, it'd probably be more scuffed up.
Hours to complete: Twelve? The muslining took a while, and I sewed very, very slowly and carefully since there's no seam ripping with leather! Trying to get the tabs more or less identical took a while too, as did learning to use the snap setter properly.
First worn: Not yet. I still need to make goggles.
Total cost: The skirt originally cost $8, but I only used half, and then the flannel was $2 and the snaps $6, for a total of $12.

When I said that it hadn't been worn yet, I guess technically that's not true, as SHB, Walnut, and Frodo, a lobster, and an octopus all tried it on.

The lobster looks rather dashing, don't you think?

The octopus was the only model that was able to wear it with the chin strap buttoned. It looks pretty pissed, though, probably because it doesn't actually have a chin and it's just buttoned over its tentacles. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Stingray Plushie Pattern

Even though I'm teaching my two favorite classes, both of which are not new preps for me by any means, and my students are pretty great for the most part, this school year has still been one of the hardest I've ever had, and we're not even two months in! I think it's the struggle to balance time with SHB, time with Mr. Cation, time to grade papers (oh, how I sometimes wish I had a job that didn't require bringing work home!), and time to pursue my own interests. Poor Walnut often gets the short end of the stick, as do the papers, to be perfectly honest. SHB is so active now (and going through separation anxiety) that there's really no getting things done while he's awake. As a result, all my plans for a grand Pinterest-worthy theme party (Sandra Boynton! LOTR! Cats!) for his first birthday went out the window. Still, even if we were ordering cake and using mismatched disposable plates, the maker in me couldn't let go of at least making something, anything, just to personalize it a little. 

Since SHB's baby shower and nursery were marine-themed, I decided that making sea animal plushies/beanbags for his little baby friends was a doable undertaking that would be kind of on theme. Because Back to School Night was two days before his party (seriously, whose bright idea was it to have a birthday at such a busy time of year?!), I ended up staying up late the night before to make six of the simplest animal I could come up with: stingrays! No fiddly little flippers or fins or snouts, no appliques or weird pieces to insert. For a last minute project, it went fairly quickly and smoothly for once!

Except for this guy: his eyes make him look especially derpy, and his mouth ended up too large and off-center...ah, the perils of being the experimental prototype!

I didn't stop to take pictures while I was churning these guys out, so no tutorial here, but it's a fairly simple plushie to make. If you'd like to take a stab at your own stingrays, I've made the pattern (and brief instructions) available for download here

Pattern: My own
Fabric: 1/4 yard of gray anti-pill fleece (enough for six rays)
Notions: Are polyfil fiber stuffing and beads notions?
Hours: Four, from drawing the pattern to cutting to sewing and then stuffing. Not bad at all! Assembly line stitching works really well for mass production.
Total cost: All the materials were from my stash, but they probably average out to about $1.50 each.
Will you make it again? After reading the comments on my IG posts, I'd love to make an enormous one big enough to wrap yourself in like some kind of weird sleeping bag/bed-type thing. You could sleep on the stuffed body and use the fins like blankets! Maybe one day when SHB is older he'll want such a thing. 
Final thoughts: Even though I didn't "hardcore" DIY SHB's party, I'm really glad I at least personalized this one little aspect. Plus, it was an immensely satisfying race-to-beat-the-deadline project, which is unusual. I secretly love the intense motivation I get when I'm mildly stressed and racing against the clock, but that situation usually sets me up for stupid mistakes when I'm sewing. I guess it's a testament to how easy these guys were to make that they came together so smoothly!

I don't know what it is about a whole bunch of more or less identical tiny derpy animals all gathered in one spot, but I was seriously in love with my little rays and ever so briefly considered keeping them all. Instead, I settled with posing them with my manatee made from the same gray fleece:

Speaking of the manatee, this is probably the coolest thing that's happened to one of my plushie patterns:

No, Dr. Frankenstein didn't get ahold of it. 

I don't understand most of what the article is about, but if you scroll halfway down she talks about using the manatee pattern to house a device to help stay in touch with their elderly loved ones. So neat! Also, w00t w00t female engineers!