Sewing A Cat

Remember the sewing machine I was so (sew?) excited to have back in June? I finally tested it out!

My husband had the great (and very last-minute) idea to be a “black cat hacker” for Halloween (a play on “black hat hacker”, a.k.a “cracker”. The bad kind.) He planned to wear his usual black hoodie and black pants and add the tail and ears to the outfit. A hacker mask would complete the outfit. Long story short, I volunteered to help sew him a tail and ears late the evening before Halloween.

The first issue I had after setting up the machine was figuring out how to thread it. The threading pattern is different from my mom’s machine, the one I was familiar with. It’s also different from the instruction booklet I had, leading me to believe it’s from a slightly different model.

Eventually I figured that the thread went from the spool post over to the guide at the top (still not sure I have that part threaded right), down through the tensioner (which required moving a spring and was poorly documented in the manual), up through one guide, threaded through the thread take-up (not just hooked in like on Mom’s machine), down through another two guides, threaded through the needle, and through a space in the presser foot out the back. It took far longer than I expected to get that set up. Given that I’m almost completely new to sewing and was using an old machine with mismatched instructions, I think I did pretty well.

In case you’re wondering, there was already a bobbin threaded in the base. The thread was brown, not black, but would be hidden and mostly unseen in this costume. I’ll try bobbin winding and threading on the next project.

The costume pieces were to be made from an old pair of sweatpants that matched the hoodie perfectly. Since there was extra fabric, I used this to test the tension on this machine. The entire time I hoped that I had threaded everything correctly and that the machine wouldn’t break because I had done something wrong. (Although, if any machine would handle something going wrong, it’s this non-electronic metal monster.)

As you can see on the left, the top stitching matches well. On the right you can see the bobbin thread, which doesn’t match. The bottom run was the first, with the top thread too loose. The top was the second, with the top thread too tight. The third try (not pictured) was Baby-Bear-perfect.

I read a guide recently that suggested making spaghetti straps without any extra stuffing. Instead, sew the loop inside out, as usual, but leave more seam allowance than usual. When the tube is flipped, the extra fabric fills the tube evenly. I tried this method with the tail to good success. I even managed to taper the end decently. The final result looks more like a mouse tail than a cat tail to me, but my husband said it was good for him.

 

Next came the ears. I cut four triangles and sewed the edges. Nothing special there. I made them a little too pointy, but they’re still good for a last-minute costume.

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My husband then took over his costume. The tail got additionally stuffed with flexible, posable tubing (an extra-long version of the tubes in this kit). The base of the tube was attached to a hand-shaped polymorph base designed to fit under a belt and around a belt loop. The base was covered in black tape.

He then sewed the ears directly onto his hoodie. His dad, who was his scoutmaster for years, would be proud that, yes, he can still sew one thing to another. I guided the positioning. They ended up a bit too far forward and too close together, which, combined with the extra-pointy shape, makes the final result look a bit more like a donkey than a cat.

Isn’t he handsome?

From this minor project I can safely say that the machine works! I can successfully thread the top thread! And I can sew a more or less straight line. For a very basic machine-sewing project, the first I’ve independently attempted, I think it’s pretty good.
I think I may be bitten by the sewing bug. If fabric weren’t so expensive, I would do this a whole lot more often.

Do you sew? What was your first sewing project?

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