The Not-So-Green Black Cat

I started with this

Dress #1

Velvet Dress

and ended up with this.

Henrik Up Close

Cat Up Close

Henrik the Cat

Curious Cat

The conversation started with, “What would you like to be for Halloween this year?”  Henrik replied, “a fire truck, a really long fire truck”.  I cringed and asked for another suggestion.  The second response was, “a dump truck”.  I then asked the leading question, “What about an animal?”  He quickly answered, “a fox”.  OK, I thought, I have a couple months.  I could possible take on a fox.  I thought about it for a week.  I mostly wondered how I could create a realistic fox without giving in to polyester faux fur.  I was relieved of that concern when Henrik informed me that didn’t really want to be a fox.  He wanted to be a cat.  I inquired about the color of the color of the cat.  He told me that he wanted to be a black and white cat.

Since the fox idea only stuck for about a week I decided to sit on the cat idea for a while.  Also, I never had any time to actually start working on the costume project.  The cat idea was still at the top of the list mid September and I decided I had to start moving forward.  The first week of October I bought a cat costume on eBay.  That weekend Fabric Depot was having a sale on Minky fabrics and I thought that would be a great fabric for the cat costume.  With family in tow we all made the trip out to Fabric Depot.  Henrik has a small blanket made out of the raised dot Minky fabric that has been cherished for the past 3 ½ years and he agreed that it would be a good idea to use that for the costume.  I decided to make a black body with white spots.  There was plenty of white, but the black bolt was a little light.  It measured about 1/8 yard short.  I hadn’t actually received the pattern in the mail so I didn’t know how the pattern pieces would lay out on the fabric and I didn’t want to come up short.  We left without any fabric.

The pattern was waiting for us at home and I decided that I could probably make it work with the amount of fabric available at Fabric Depot.  I went alone back out to Fabric Depot that evening only to find out that someone had bought ¼ yard of the black fabric.  Now there really wasn’t enough fabric.  I moved on to my backup plan.  I stopped at Goodwill on the way home and found a couple full length black velvet dresses.  I decided that the velvet would make nice “fur” and I felt more eco about creating the costume out of the dress material.  It took me another two weeks to get around to pinning the pieces to the fabric.  But I still really liked the idea of using the Minky.  So, I called Fabric Depot and was told that they had 2 yards, more than I needed, of the black Minky.  I put the bolt on hold and we all drove back out to Fabric Depot again.  But, the employee had only guessed at the remaining yardage on the bolt and they actually had the exact amount as the last time I had been there, which was not enough.  I compromised with Henrik and bought ¼ yard of the black Minky to make a stuffed animal and ¼ yard of white velvet to make spots on the black velvet I had bought at Goodwill.

The pattern also called for bias tape for the neck, a 14” zipper and stuffing for the tail.  Fabric Depot only had black invisible zippers in stock and the zipper pull was so tiny I was concerned that Henrik would not be able to work the zipper on his own.  So I got the great idea of adding buttons instead of a zipper and picked out some buttons.  The black bias tape was also out of stock.  I hadn’t actually read the pattern directions so I wasn’t even sure why I needed the bias tape.  I wasn’t too worried.  They did have stuffing, but it was way less green than I had hoped.  I assumed that I would be able to find more eco friendly stuffing before Halloween.

I started working on sewing up the body of the cat suit and realized that creating a placket onto which to add the buttons would take more time than I had left before Halloween.  It was now just over a week before Halloween and I was starting to feel crunched.  Bolt was having their anniversary sale that weekend and while shopping for some great fabrics for some craft projects I have been cooking up, I picked up a 14” black zipper with a much more finger friendly pull.  When I was time to sew in the zipper I figured out that even though the pattern called for a 14” zipper, I had shortened to torso of the pattern to fit Henrik and now needed a 12” zipper.  Also, when I finally took the time to read all the directions I realized that in the picture it looked like the hood with the ears was attached to the body, but they were actually separate.  The bias tape was supposed to finish the seam around the neck.  Now I was a little worried.  I went back to Bolt the next day and bought the bias tape and the 12” zipper, but I of course forgot the 14” one to exchange.  Bolt was out of stuffing.

I had never sewn in a zipper so I watched a few tutorials on YouTube and went to work.  The zipper went well and I kept assembling.  When I got to the hood I decided that I really wanted it to connect to the body.  With a preschooler, there is no point trying to keep track of two items when there is the possibility of needing only one instead.  Since the pattern did not include instructions on how to attach the two I had to completely improvise.  Also, since I wasn’t working with yardage, but reusing the dress material instead, I did not have a piece of fabric wide enough to cut out the hood.  I ended up cutting the hood into two halves with a new seam from front to back.  I never imagined I was going to encounter so many improvisational sewing experiences on this project.   I did not end up learning how to use the bias tape since I had connected the hood to the body.  All that was missing was stuffing for the tail.

Henrik at Hillsboro

Henrik at Hillsboro

Henrik participated in most of the Kiddie Kross races during the 2009 Cross Crusade series.  The race on the Sunday before Halloween was in Hillsboro.  We stopped at JO-ANN on the way home and picked up a bag of the same non eco stuffing I had passed up at Fabric Depot.  I had finally collected all the supplies and was nearing the end of sewing all the parts together.

The last weekend in September we were at a Just Between Friends (JBF) sale and we found a cat suit (faux fur of course).  It was a perfect fit, but the hood was missing with the price tag attached.  They weren’t able to sell it because they didn’t know the price or who to credit.  I left my contact info in case the hood turned up.  In the mean time I came up with the great idea that I should just make the costume.  I became attached to that idea and when the JBF coordinator called the next day to say that they had located the hood and the price tag I somehow thought it wasn’t very eco friendly to drive across town to buy the costume…..

As naptime ended at 5pm on Halloween evening, I had just finished the costume and Henrik was able to try on the finished product.  He was thrilled with the result.  He can put the whole suit on by himself, ears and all.  He immediately started meowing and crawling on the floor.  I did upcycle fabric from the dresses from Goodwill, but my overall project was not so green.  I ended up with 1 extra zipper, 1 extra package of bias tape and a ¼ yard of white velvet for the spot that never appeared (luckily, there was no mention of the lack of spots).  In all, Halloween 2009 included 3 trips to Fabric Depot, 2 trips to Bolt, 1 trip to JO-ANN, a few choice words and 1 very happy boy.

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