Who doesn’t like a great sew along or sewing challenge! Well, actually, me. I participate in very few of them (outside of WSBN ones!) as it doesn’t tend to work with my creative process, although I love looking at the results.
But there’s this great blog out there called Miss Crayola Creepy and Erin came up with the great idea of a Cat Lady Sewing Challenge – make something with some form of cat reference in the fabric print. Cat sewing!!! Now there is something I can get behind! I knew INSTANTLY what I was going to make too.
But this is not that garment.
This is a garment I started in January, also inspired by an animal sewing challenge, Jungle January led by the truly brilliant Anne of Pretty Grievances and whose origin goes all the way back to last November and Sophie-Lee of Two Random Words and this pencil skirt.
Sophie-Lee and I both eyed up this blue leopard denim at Arthur Toye’s closing down sale (sniff) but I decided to refrain. Sophie-Lee went ahead and made that gorgeous skirt, but had about 80cm left over. We were chatting about what to do with it and I suggested that .8m was just enough for a bustier-style top. Sophie-Lee loved the idea but decided she’d never wear a blue leopard bustier and offered me the fabric so that I could do it, so very kind of her.
Fast forward to Jungle January and I decided it was the perfect time to make my leopard bustier, from Butterick 5680, a great ’80s pattern.
I made a mock-up and eek. This thing needed fitting! Unfortunately (fortunately?) I have no pics of the misery that it was.
The lovely Jo of Making it Well helped me with a couple of iterations but it was still far from perfect and I ran out of time to finish it for Jungle January and it got shelved, and instead I finally blogged this skirt, also leopard print.
And then Erin’s challenge came along. As I mentioned, I knew exactly what I wanted to use, this awesome Japanese inspired quilting cotton featuring a fish-scale scallop pattern and lucky cats, or maneki-neko.
I mean, lucky cats!!! It would be perfect! But in my attempt to curb my stash-building behaviour I had bought only a metre, and it is only 112cm wide. So, what’s a girl to do with a tiny bit of fabric?
And I recalled my unfinished bustier mock-up, started because of fabric restrictions, and decided to finish fitting it and use that.
And then I discovered I had 1.5 metres of my lucky cats fabric. And I couldn’t bring myself to use it on the bustier when I had enough to make something bigger and show more of the print.
And then I recalled that the fabric I’d earmarked for Jungle January was blue leopard, and Erin had said cat-fur prints counted. It seemed only sensible to finish my blue leopard top! And I did.
Before I even made my first mock-up I enlarged the pieces at the waist and hips, but not enough. Thankfully it fit pretty well at the bust so I slashed the mock-up open along the front princess seams and pinned extra fabric into them and transferred the extra back to these seams. But my second bodice had too much in the hips, so I pinned some back out of the princess seams and made another version. The third version was still a bit gapey but I decided it wasn’t anything I couldn’t fit on the finished garment and went ahead. Sure enough, I had to trim more out of the front princess seams on the finished bodice.
I would like to make this top again as I LOVE this style of garment, so now I have to use my off-cuts to transfer my changes back to the pattern! I might also lengthen it next time. I add 3cm to the neck edge for slightly less cleavage but I think it needs more at the bottom too, as despite these jeans being “high waist” (whatever, they’re still below my natural waist, but at least they cover my butt unlike most modern jeans) I still get a crescent of bare kidneys when I sit or bend.
Construction was easy but I did make a few changes. I subbed in an invisible zip (from stash, I do love having a zip stash!) instead of the back buttons and disregarded the boning and lining the pattern called for. I drafted a facing for the neck, and did a standard hem. I had so little fabric that I had to cut the straps on the cross grain and interface them, and they’re still a bit stretchier than ideal, and I had to piece the facing along the same seamlines as the bodice itself as I was working with scraps by this point. I chose not to line as the fabric is a super stretchy denim and I didn’t have a lining with the right weight and stretch factor, and I made the straps wider than the pattern called for as well. I taped the entire top edge of the top as per MrsC’s tutorial but when I make this again – and I will – I will also take a tiny bit out of the side seam at the top, as even with the tape it is a tiny bit loose at the underarms. But not enough to alter this one!
The Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network all got quite enthusiastic about Erin’s challenge and we decided a picnic was the best way to celebrate. Wellington spring tends to alternate rapidly and frequently between gorgeous summers’ days (like today!) and blisteringly icy cold winters’ days and the forecast for our picnic was right on the border of the switch. But the day dawned beautifully and although it was a bit gusty it was warm and sunny so we tucked into a picnic at The Dell at Wellington’s Botanic Gardens. Laura at Laulipopnz volunteered her 6 year old daughter to take group photos of us and she took these artistic snaps of us. Given her size and the fact the camera was bigger than her head, the fact our heads are all in frame is pretty impressive!
Just as we finished eating the grey clouds rolled in and the air turned cold, so we went into the Winter Gardens, right next to The Dell, to take more photos in the inside tropical heat, and then finished up with a super thick thickshake and a quickie visit to some fabric stores. That is how you have an awesome day.
If you want to check out the blogs of the WSBN people mentioned here, here are the links:
Jo at Making it Well
Teresa at Adventures of a Girl from the Naki
Sophie-Lee at Two Random Words
Mel at The Curious Kiwi
Sandra M at Flossie FT
Laura at Laulipopnz
Juliet at Crazy Gypsy Chronicles
Alison somewhere awesome
Thanks to Erin, Anne, Sophie-Lee, Jo, and the whole WSBN for being awesome, and thanks to the sewing blogging communities for giving me the top that the internet built! And now I have regular leopard, pink leopard, and blue leopard in my repertoire. Only another gazillion to go to have the whole set!