When grandchildren are babies, or at least fairly young, we can make pretty things that please us and, hopefully, their mothers. Then, after some time, our target audience becomes opinionated little ones. That’s what happened with this special request from 3 yo Vivian Rose.
“Please make me a kitty cat dress, Nana,” she implored on her last visit. Having put The Incident behind us, making her a new dress seemed just the right gesture for assurance of forgiveness.
This child is fixated on cats. Their family pet is a 17 year old feline who went to college with Vivi’s father and has been with him ever since. So Vivi has daily interaction with a cat, elderly though she is.
When I spotted this fabric at my favorite fabric haunt, The Sewing Studio in Maitland, FL, I knew Vivian would love it. Not only that, the black background would make her mother happy, who declares this active child’s clothes have a chance of surviving the school year if they are black denim.
Even so, the fabric seemed a little too feline for my taste, but I wasn’t buying for me. Don’t get me wrong–I love cats, but mostly in smaller numbers.
Challenges arose as soon as I began to cut it out. Those rows of cats are not printed precisely on grain. I dealt with a similar problem many years ago, but wisdom learned then was forgotten in my haste to make this for my precious little cat girl. So a choice had to be made between going with the weave of the fabric or with the print. I went with the print.
The pattern was Annie’s Sundress by Primrose Lane.
This is a very nice pattern with a lined bodice and just two shoulder buttons or ties as closures. Easy peasy—if you are dealing with a less fussy print. The wide size range is a bonus.
The inverted pleat at the skirt’s center front was omitted. I had almost torn my hair out trying to get complete cat faces at the side seams (no way), at the hemline (required fabric be cut a little off grain) and at center front of the bodice. I wasn’t up to fiddling with two pleat folds through those cat heads.
This dress is actually a suggested variation included in the pattern. The lining was reversed on the back so the straps offered contrast against the bodice.
I had hoped that the pink gingham lining and gray gingham piping would cut the roaring purr that emanated from the fabric when my back was turned.
Vivi loves pockets so I thought gingham pockets would reduce the annoyance of the huge clowder. FYI, a “clowder” or “glaring” is what you call a group of cats, like a herd of cattle or a flock of geese. I had to look that up.
But the pockets made little difference in the overall appearance. Still too many cats.
To find satisfactory buttons, I ended up stacking three together, a gray 4-hole, a green 4-hole, and finally a tiny 2-hole flower. This was a little tricky because the distance between the holes varied.
First, I lined all three up and held the stack to the light. Sure enough with careful rotating I saw a glimmer of light through the two holes of the flower. So the pink flower was hand sewn to the green button with a few stitches. Then the tree were machine stitched to the strap.
I’m always in a hurry. If I had taken time to think this through, I would have used that cat print as a border at the hem. Or as the skirt with a gingham bodice. A dress like A-line Children’s Corner Lucy would have avoided the gathers which added more and more cats to the dress. Any one of these choices would have given Vivi her “kitty cat dress” and I would have been so much happier with the results.
I had planned to make a matching hanger, guided by Joanne Banko’s great project at Brother’s blog, Stitching Sewcial. The cats would have been perfect for this style of hanger. But I was no up for another cat projects.
The bottom line is that for Vivi, there is no such thing as too many kitty cats. I think she will like the dress.