Monday, March 11, 2013

DIY: The Crazy Cat Lady Sweater

Cat-tastic Outfit Details: Cuz you know you want 'em. sweater: originally a Free People, felted by moi; dress: vintage, Four Seasons Vintage, Knoxville, TN; tights: I'm wearing two. Don't ask me how, you don't wanna know; shoes: thrifted, Nine West
I recently took an "Are You a Cat Person?" quiz and, by the looks of things, I betcha can guess the results. But c'mon! Tell me I'm not the only one who answered a resounding "yes!" to the following: 
  • You consider cat hair in your food an additional source of fiber (What? You can never get enough. Fiber that is. The hairballs kinda suck).
  • You sleep on the edge of your bed because you hate to disturb the cat sleeping in the middle looking so darn cute (Not only is cuteness a factor but you try moving 20 sleeping pounds. No small task).
  • You call home multiple times daily to ask your spouse what the cat is doing and to speak to her (Okay, this wasn't actually on the list but this is what my hubs does everyday during my summer vacation. Looks like I'm not the only one with a problem).

Sweater on the left available at Modcloth for $99.99 (really? How 'bout we just call it $100, ermkay?) and my felted personalized version on the right.

Since my students are currently creating dogs and cats outta clay, I just knew I had to have this sweater in my life. For educational purposes! For the children! For the love of all things cat-sy! But when I saw that totally ridic price tag, I was all "Edu-what? Children-shmildren! Cats, who gives a -- (cue tilted head, doe-eyed stare as seen below) Awwwww! Cats!" 

AND the DIY Crazy Cat Lady Sweater was born.
Now there's only one cat in my life and that's Asha. Her tale begins with her mom who we had originally adopted after she was abandoned at my apartment complex. Normally a calm and quiet cat, I was a little perplexed when one night she began howling like a crazy fool. Never having owned a cat before I had no idea she was in heat. I threw her outside and doncha know that little hussy came back knocked up. Hubs actually had to deliver Asha (on our bed, ahem) as she was born breach. She is currently our only cat and just about all we can handle.

I mean, just look at this nut. When she's not on some rickrack-chewing or stomping-on-my-crafts rampage...
...she's passed out drunk as a skunk. It's like living with Lindsay Lohan. But we loves her just the same.

Which is why I decided to create my own cat sweater dedicated to my dear sweet drunken Asha. Wanna do the same? Easy. Follow these steps:
  1. You are going to create a symmetrical drawing of your cat. Begin by folding a piece of 8 1/2' X 11" piece of paper in half. From here you could either trace an enlarged photo of your cat or draw a very basic version.
  2. Now here's a little trick to create a drawing that is perfectly symmetrical drawing. Fold the paper in half along the vertical crease. With the paper folded, scribble firmly on the backside of your drawing. 
  3. When you reopen your paper, you will see a ghost line of your drawing. My students use this technique in art all the time when wanting to create a symmetrical drawing quickly.

Originally my plan was to place this drawing under the sweater and trace it. Yeah, that didn't work. The sweater is completely opaque. So then my thought was to use one of those pattern cutting tools that looks like a pizza cutter with teeth. I thought I'd trace my lines with that tool, place the drawing on my sweater and use chalk to "pounce" in the lines. Erm, no go. The chalk just vanished into the knit of the sweater. These failures lead to Plan C (for "C"rap, now what?!):
Cut the drawing into pieces and outline in wool yarn.
This worked swimmingly. I simply outlined the components of the design (cat head, glasses, ears, etc) and filled them in with felt. Almost like Paint-by-Number. Here, lemme show you...

On the left, you can see I've cut out the glasses and I've outlined them in dark brown wool yarn. Only 100% wool yarn can be used when needle felting. This same technique was used when felting the inside of the glasses.
Not being able to draw on the sweater was annoying. But drawing with the yarn really helped. And the good news is that yarn can be pulled right out of the sweater in case a mistake is made.
Creepy kitty face.

Outline in yarn, fill in with roving, lather, rinse, repeat (okay, minus those last three, we're not wet felting here). If you are new to the idea of needle felting, you can read about my first attempt, complete with slightly clearer directions, here. Follow that up with my downhill slide into felting madness: Put a Bird on It Sweater, Floral Applique Sweater and my Crazy Art Teacher Skirt.

Once I decided I wanted to create an Ashie sweater, I snapped this photo of her so I could see her coloring and details as I worked. She doesn't usually have such a freaky face unless she's staring at birds or other lil critters. In this instance it happened to be a giant spider hanging just above my head. Yeah, thanks for the warning, fuzzy butt.
 My feeble attempt to emulate the bow-and-glasses look. Somehow, it's just not the same.
Looking back over the "Are You a Cat Person" quiz, I never once saw the statement: 
  • You unapologetically spend a good portion of your birthday weekend needle felting a picture of your cat onto your clothing. Which you wear proudly to work. Where small children praise you for your craftsmanship while adults smile and pretend they aren't planning an emergency intervention for your insane cat lady soul at the next faculty meeting. 
I mean, who wouldn't check "yes!" in that box, am I right people? 
Erm, hello?



  1. From one cat lady to another......excuse me for a moment while I pick fur out of my teeth.

    Love the sweater, though no felting for me; I'm allergic to wool. I'm absolutely mad about the tights! Did you just cut one leg off of each pair of tights? Fabulous!

    1. Seriously! I have one cat and there's fur EVERYWHERE! It doesn't help that she's a slightly neurotic tabby with a hair-pulling-out problem. What a bummer you are allergic to wool...but, as crazy as this sounds, you COULD felt with cat hair. My mom got me a whole book on it. And, yes, there is a whole book on such a thing ;)

      I've not completely figured out how to make two-legged tights...but when I do, you better believe I'll be diy/bloggin' about it ;)

    2. No felting with kitty hair for me. Though I do clean enough of my cat's fur off my furniture ((hey, do you think that's why they call it FURniture?) each day to build a whole new kitty!

  2. Brilliant! I think it's actually better than the Modcloth version.

  3. Great post! I smirked all the time. And you're a very skilled person. That's a nice way to smarten up ones clothes. Love the pullover, the hairdo and your cat.

  4. Woahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! (Yes it needed to be that long!!) That is amazing, I would love to felt my frog onto something but they are so complicated its ridiculous. I am in awe of your mad skillz! You should feel really pleased with yourself, great job. I love that you find cat hair everywhere, you can at least turn it into art. I think you should make a freaky Asha clone cat from her hair!! haha!!

    Jerra xx

  5. OMG!!! That's the most amazing thing I've seen in a long while!!

  6. Ughghhhh this is so amazing!!! 100000x better than the Modcloth version. Keep a close eye on this one... it may end up missing out of your closet, ahem :)

    1. Ha! Now I know I can't invite you over, you'll end up with my sweater in your purse: "hey, how'd THAT get in there...?!" This summer, when I'm free as a bird, let's plan to get together -- I'll school you on needle felting and you can attempt to give me some sewing pointers!

  7. Ohmergerd!!! You are freakin amazing!! I think your sweater looks so much better than the modcloth one! Plus Asha is such a cutie!! I think you are inspiring me to try my hand at this felting thing!

    1. You need to try it, it's so stinkin' easy! Seriously...and relaxing and not at all taxing for my pea brain. BTW, the kids have been writing you letters this week using THE PENCILS you sent. They think that's just the best thing ever. I'll have to shoot you an email for your address. They've got some VERY interesting things to say to you ;)

  8. Practically speechless with amazement here! The audacity needed to conceive and execute this zany sweater...I bow before you. And I love the result. Your whole outfit is perfection. Why no Ms. Frizzle reference here? I am hoping to become a middle school teacher just so that I can wear theme outfits that relate to the curriculum.

    1. Shoot the only reason I teach the kiddos is so I can dress crazy. Ah, I kid! (kinda ;)) Thank you for your kind words. I do believe I need to do an entire Ms. Frizzle related post as she's my idol!

  9. Hello from Greece!!!!! i just found your amazing blog!!!! i am a crazy cat person 2!!!!!! i am married and we also have a baby boy kitten!!! 3,5 years old!! his name is Mpempis!! he is ginger!!! like yours!!! meow!!!!!!!!!!! =^o^= nice to meet you!!! i also i felt in love with felt hihihiihi!!!!!!!!!!!!! so beautiful diy!! thank you soooo much!!!!!!!!!

  10. OH MY! I see a cat sweater in the works for the Grands!! OH! ...and me too of course :0)

  11. This is such a cute sweater!

  12. Wow! I love it! I was eying that Modcloth one too and just couldn't justify that price tag. It looks so much like your cat and I love the freaky face photo of her :) Well done!!

  13. So your post has inspired me to try my hand at this. And it works out great since I'm in need of a sweater with my cat on it to go with the rest of my animal sweaters. I teach High School and my kids get a kick out of the "crazy" art teacher that wears the animal sweaters. My favorite so far is my T-Rex sweater! I love the idea of using Mr Bingley's (yep, thats his name!) own fur! Especially since he's an orange Persian who sheds enough to create a sweater a day!
    Seriously love your blog!!!!!!

    1. Yay! I hope you'll email me a photo of your sweater when it's complete, I'd love to see it. And now I suddenly MUST felt a dino-sweater! That sounds AMAZING! I know the kids love you!


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