Friday, January 4, 2013

Cat People

So December was much busier than I'd expected it would be. Most of the unexpected busy-ness was work-related, but hey, when you work for yourself you kind of have to take advantage of that sort of thing.

There was expected busy-ness too, in the form of my annual season of Must Make ALL THE THINGS. And I really did make a lot of things! Now I'm hoping to share them with you, one by one.

Let's start with these three adorable kittens!

They live here...

Inside their mama's skirt.

What an utterly lovable family, right?

I recently had the privilege of testing this pattern for Mama Cat and her Skirt-Dwelling Kittens, by Dorie of the blog Tumbling Blocks.

It's a really clever pattern with (as you can see) a super charming result. I really enjoyed picking out the different fabrics and planning how the mama and her kittens would be similar/coordinating but not exactly the same.

I love the faces, especially of the kittens, how just a few gestures with needle and thread can wind up so evocative (and of course since they’re handmade each one gets its own “personality”).

I'd recommend the pattern heartily for an advanced beginner/intermediate sewist (some of those pieces are kind of small and fiddly, so it helps to have a bit of experience--or failing that,chutzpah).

A few more notes. First, what I did differently from the pattern/instructions:

  • I find it really difficult to sew a consistent seam allowance around small curves, so I marked my stitching line (oddly enough, I actually feel comfortable eyeballing this sort of thing, so it isn't that much of a burden). I'm still using Pilot Frixion erasable pens, on Florence's recommendation, and really loving them.

  • To make toddler kitten's dress, instead of pinning the pattern to the fabric and sewing around it, I traced the pattern onto freezer paper and ironed it to my fabric. I thought it would be easier not to have to deal with pins and I think it did help.

What I would do differently next time:

  • I would stick to quilting cotton for the whole project. The white fabric from which I made the kittens' bodies and Mama Cat's dress bodice is very thick, which makes it hard to work with (especially when turning those teeny kitten bodies right-side-out!), and you can see in the pictures that the fabric choice makes the bodice a little stiff and the shoulder seams untidy.

  • I made a mistake in sewing Mama Cat's skirt--it's supposed to be a big sack that covers her feet, a maxi dress if you will, rather than the tea-length frock you see here. This error was likely due to my own thick-headedness, which tends to be exacerbated in a time-crunch, but Dorie has also updated the instructions in her latest version of the pattern to make this step idiot-proof. 

Even more than usual, my pictures don't do justice to the cuteness of the pattern (I finished with about 15 minutes to spare to get the toy wrapped and my girl to the birthday party at which it was to be gifted). You can see pictures of other versions of the cat family here, and if you want some advice on sewing the bodice of Mama Cat's dress Dorie provides some advice here.

Now go and get the pattern in Dorie's Etsy shop. Because come on, admit it, the holidays are over and you are just itching to get started on a new project, aren't you?


  1. Love! She looks so cute sitting on that yellow ombre afghan too. Thanks for all your help!

  2. Thanks, Dorie! It was my pleasure, for sure!