Longcat Scarf is Long

Last year for his birthday, I made D. a couple cat-related items from some really nice scrap white fur left over from some window-dressing projects. One of them was a counterfeit tuxedo cat based on an inside joke (it was a stuffed white cat wearing a tuxedo and top hat, rather than an actual tuxedo-colored cat; there’s more to it than that, but it’s a joke based on financial humor, so more on that later).

This scarf has a pocket hidden by an invisible zipper. Inside it’s a charmeuse fabric with a black and white cat print on a baby-pink background because I figured the inside of a cat would be mostly pink.

I didn’t have any pink safety-noses handy, and the ones readily available look really cheap, so I painted some black ones and coated them with polyurethane so it wouldn’t scrape off.

The photo of pointing is actually pretty heavily photoshopped; I liked aspects of two different shots, so I merged them together and had to retouch pretty much the entire bookshelf, which is an emotionally unrewarding use of my killer Photoshop skillz:

Here is D. attempting to look hipster. Contrary to what the uninformed may think from various visual cues, he is not a hipster; he is a software engineer:

And here is a blank meme colorwheel for anyone who can actually come up with anything else to say about a scarf:

Racing Stripes

These are some wool slacks cut like skinny jeans, with rivets and everything. The client generally wears boots, so I added some similar-weight cashmere godets in the side seams up to the knee.

I stitched some scrap fabric over the rivets so they wouldn’t poke out and wear on the ribbon or look lumpy.

I pinned this grosgrain ribbon up the side seam with a ruler inside the leg so I wouldn’t pin through more than one layer of fabric:

I matched the maroon of the stripes in the fabric and quadrupled the thread so it would show up. The grosgrain stripes made it easy to keep the stitches even–4 stripes on, 4 stripes off.

It came out looking pretty sharp:

Christopher Robin’s Got Game

Today I hosted Craft Day, as I do once a month, through www.meetup.com/weirdery so I finished up all the machine sewing the night before and saved all the non-machine-related finishing stuff for today. I’ve used my sewing machines during Craft Days before, but it’s always a lot of work to haul them out of my studio, it takes up a lot of space on the table, and it’s too loud to easily join in the chatting, which is the whole point of hosting a public Craft Day.

Here are all the faces drying on the catch-all table I keep swearing I’m going to straighten up:

So today was about sewing the snaps onto Eyore’s chin, rubbing glue into everyone’s eyes and smiles, and styling the angel’s and Christopher Robin’s hair. For that part, I used FrayCheck, since it had worked so well on Eyore’s mane.

I put Angel’s face over the back of a chair and a pillow to get it to stand up while I was working on it. For Chris Robin, I found a cooler option:

Now I want to make another one that I can keep!

Yet More Topiary Animal Process

I went to Joann’s for some brown burlap, only to discover that there IS an online coupon for a single item, as well as a current total-order coupon in my wallet (those usually expire and I finally throw them away a couple months out of date), AND apparently the one fabric Joann’s carries for cheaper than Hancock’s is burlap. On top of all that, the girl who wound up cutting my fabric and ringing me up and making sure I got the maximum coupon benefit was knowledgeable and exactly the kind of clerk you hope for in a fabric store.

So I’m driving out to the location starting to feel pretty good about having to start over on Owl, or at least as good as can be felt. I look over at the animals as I pull up, hoping to see a glimpse of a white bag . . . and there is Owl, fully dressed. I never pulled his wrapping off when I packed up the last time I was there. To be fair, I had 7 large trash bags, it was dark, and so was owl. So here’s me, the biggest, but happiest spaz in the world.

On the plus side of this whole extra trip, Angel and Pooh got second fittings, which they might not have done, given the tight deadline. I haven’t finished the angel’s head yet, but I tested what I’ve got and had a chance to see the burlap art I decorated her dress with. Here is a burlap interpretation of a Sacred Heart.

Up the side of her dress:

I need to move the heart at the top; while working on the pieces separately, it wasn’t readily apparent where the overlap was.

These appliques are winding up getting made out of the loosest weave burlap, so they crumble as I put them on, and I noticed on Tigger, they were already starting to shred their way off. Stitching them on more securely would take forever as well as warp the fabric. So now all the appliques will be covered with ground-in school glue:


Samples Again!

This is what almost 1000 samples and fat quarters look like in the middle of cutting them out:

This is my favorite from this round:

This is what the trashcan next to my serger looks like:

This is the thread remnants after nearly 3 hours of snipping corners clean:

And finally, this is what a stack of nearly 900 8″x8″ fabric samples looks like:

Topiary Animals Continued

The next step in the topiary process had to be digging up more fabric. After calling around, I located one store that had enough different colors so I could make it in one stop. An old blog entry I found while searching stated that Cutting Corners had many colors of burlap, but this is no longer the case. One location of Hancock Fabrics was worth the long trip out to the edges of the burbs. I think it’s not a current item, but their low burlap turnover has allowed them to retain some selection through the discontinuations.

Hancock Fabrics always has terrible signage; you can be looking almost right at it and not spot it while driving. Instead, it’s generally a good idea to look for the Big Lots sign. On the off chance there’s not one of those next to the Hancock’s, you can locate it with a Hobby Lobby or a Tuesday Morning sign.

I had really wanted Chris Robin to have blue pants, but it was not to be. There is no blue burlap to be had in the Dallas Metroplex. I considered khaki while looking at the burlap shelf, but while the shade was different, I figured it would be too close to what I was using for his skin tone that he would probably wind up looking like a horrible, pantsless little boy. The strategically-placed water spigot that keeps the plant alive wouldn’t have helped the situation. So brown pants it is.

This location of Hancock’s still carried these awesome scissors, though I had thought they didn’t anymore, so I stocked up. These are great lightweight fabric scissors that when I worked at a Hancock’s, we’d use to help our good scissors survive the fleece-cutting season–and they’d still be going strong at the end of it. Plus, they’re so cheap (at most places, between $1.50 to $2, and sometimes as low as $.75 on sale) that I use them like disposable scissors and don’t worry about people (i.e. me) using them to cut wire or some such thing as that.

Contrast that with those awful $9.99 sets-of-3 they’ve been pushing like they’re new for the past 2 (or 3?) years. To be fair, I haven’t used them, so I don’t know if the scissors themselves are awful, but Hancock’s tendency to force their employees to push stupid promo crap just keeps screwing over any good workers who are trying to develop real relationships with their customers–and while I rarely make it out to a Hancock’s anymore, it’s like getting in a time machine to see the piles of scissor sets clogging the cutting tables.


Because of the success of my method for pinning Rabbit on location and my desire not to have to undo and then redo as with Tigger, I prepped all the remaining 7 animals before heading out for the next fitting.

Eyore has a gimp leg (back left), and one extra-strong one (front left). I guess he does all his kicking with his right foot; I’ll just leave the story at that. Maybe he needs his tires rotated.

I draped the animals and pinned the heck out of them:

I’ll cheat and skip ahead to fitting #2. Rest assured there was much sewing and gnashing of pins between the previous picture and this one:

I marked him for some more velcro, where his eyes will go, and where to start his mane. The little pin-stars on his feet in the first photo became this:

I apparently left without a full shot of Rabbit, so here is a picture of his feet to tide you over:

I had originally pictured the overall-strap style of attaching chest to back only for Rabbit, but it’s winding up being the thing for pretty much every animal except Eyore and Tigger (pictured in the background). Also pictured, the everlastingly patient D., the real-life version of the Ryan Gosling Hey Girl Seamstress meme, and who probably does have a full body pic of Rabbit on his phone.

I put together a Roo ear from scraps, figuring that sewing in advance was just going to be a waste of time, like his mom’s hands were.

Second fitting:

She totally needs to shave her pits; there’s stuff growing in there, woman!


Piglet 1st fitting. Several people stopped to take pictures with him.

Second fitting:

I started Pooh, but it got too dark to continue. Got to mark his legs and diaper, though, which got filled with mud. Oh, Pooh!

I did get to see this, though:

The cool thing about fitting plant-folks instead of people, who would be mad about this sort of treatment:

On the other hand, I usually wouldn’t need to stand on a ladder to reach peoples’ heads; even a basketball player would stoop so I could get to his head if I were draping him for a balaclava or something for some reason.

Fitting 1.5:

I did his ears in the same manner as Roo’s. Also went home with a lot more mud in his diaper again; he poured water off his hands and down his legs the whole time I was fitting him.

Christopher Robin so far:

This is what his shirt looks like–nothing like normal-people shirts:

(Also, every time I look at that “cute and nerdy” bag, I start doing a double-parody on Weird Al’s “White and Nerdy” song, which is my alarm clock, so it gets stuck in my head easily.)

Here is the angel (unrelated to the whole Winnie the Pooh story, but still a plant that doesn’t need to freeze to death in the winter):

Her arms proved to be waaaay easier than I first thought.

Now for the tragedy (yes, I am aware of what “tragedy” means in the classical sense, and I don’t really believe that Owl’s story rivals that of Oedipus or Antigone . . . well, maybe . . . )

Pretty much all of Owl is awkward and the formulas necessary to determine the pattern pieces by math would probably come from levels of calculus beyond what I managed to take in school, so there was a lot of pinning. And a lot of fabric. Look at that beautiful owl.

I discovered last night that the bag of Owl parts is missing. I can think of two parking lots that he might have been left in, and I asked around, checked dumpsters. I worked on the rest of the gang today in hopes that someone would go, “Oh look, a trashbag full of cut up burlap with pins in it–this must be important! Let me find the owner!” but it was apparently not to be. So back to the fabric store for yet more (locally-priced and no current coupons, alas!) burlap–fortunately brown is a readily available color–then back out to Fort Worth for a FIRST FITTING, gaaaahhahahahaahh.


Math and Cutting for the Topiaries

I sat down this morning to finish planning all the pattern pieces for the remaining 7 topiaries, then rolled out my paper and started drafting.

Between wrestling cats for the use of the rulers, maneuvering around the harp, and crouching on the floor for several hours straight, I decided to go ahead and sling one of my new 4’x8′ sheets of MDF onto a table base and spread out on a table in my cat-free studio.

There are a lot of things that need moving around and reorganizing, and I was postponing putting up the table until I got that done–that, and because it’s freaking heavy–but having a workspace this big is fabulous.

Several hours later and I’m down in the atrium again:

Okay, so the best-laid plans of mice and men. A lot of pieces had to be modified to fit the yardage available; Pooh’s shirt got longer, and he’s now wearing 3/4-length sleeves, instead of the cap-sleeved midi he usually wears. It’s his winter shirt.

I ran out of belly and inner-ears for Eyore, but they’ll be pink, and I think I can locate that locally. Christopher Robin has skin and hair, but no clothes. I had intended to make his shirt red without looking up a picture; it’s not, and I ran out of red anyway. I could have sworn I’d ordered some blue for his pants, but discovered upon looking at the pile of unrolled burlap that there is no pant-blue. So about 3 yards short. Not bad for guessing yardage to cover topiary animals before even determining the pattern pieces.

Luckily, burlap doesn’t have a nap and it’s wiggly enough that if you don’t cut it straight, no one will be able to tell–all the pieces just barely fit. I wound up with a tiny pile of scraps (many of them so small they’re only in the scrap pile just because there’s nothing else to use to solve emergencies) and an even tinier pile of trash: