Monday, February 17, 2014

Catnap Dress Contest: Crazy Cat Lady Dress

If you read my blog regularly, you will notice that I’m a big fan of Lizzy House’s fabric designs, especially her Pearl Bracelets. When she announced a Catnap Dress Contest, I joined in without hesitation. Her Catnap fabric line is so cute, how could I resist making a dress out of it?

While I knew that I could easily make another Wiksten tank dress or Staple Dress in time, those patterns didn’t quite fit my vision for my Catnap Dress. I need something sweeter, but still at a beginner level. The Crepe dress by Colette Patterns seemed to fit the bill. Once I stumbled across the Crepe Sew Along posts on Gertie’s Blog for Better Sewing, I was sold. I settled on Catnap Cattitude in Grey for the body and Jewels in Tangerine for the contrasting sash. Pink Chalk Fabrics had the fabrics I needed in stock, as well as the pattern, so I submitted my order and in no time at all, I had everything I needed to get started.

After I returned from the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild retreat, I vowed to work on my dress every day until it was completed, even if it was just for a few minutes. I read through both the pattern and the sew along posts and sewed my nights away. Just as I was starting to worry that I wouldn’t be able to finish in time, an extension was announced.

I had read several places online that the armhole facings on the Crepe dress tend to flip out, so I followed the understitching tutorial on Gertie’s Blog and diligently understitched the heck out of those facings. The bodice seemed to take forever, but the skirt sewed up quickly and I loved the pockets. Then I connected the skirt to the bodice and hit a snag.

It didn’t fit.

I couldn’t believe it! The muslin seemed to fit just fine, but it was only of the bodice. The almost-finished dress definitely did not fit me. The skirt was lovely, but the bodice was too big and the sleeves stood up over my shoulders and gaped in a most distressing way. I soon realized my mistake. When I had compared my measurements to the pattern sizes, I picked the size that corresponded to my biggest measurement, my hips. After my blunder, I read through the discussions on the Colette Patterns Flickr group and realized that I should have used a smaller size for the bodice and graded it to fit the larger skirt.

After the tears dried, I cut apart the sleeves, trimmed them down and sewed them back up again. The facings that I had so lovingly understitched made it a nightmare to fix, but I managed it. In the end, I have a wearable dress, even though it’s still a little too big in the bodice. Paired with a cardigan, it’s presentable.

What I like about this dress:

  • It’s a cat dress!
  • The pockets
  • The sweetheart neckline
  • I successfully used fusible interfacing for the first time.
  • The sashing is super long and the wrap portion of the dress feels very secure.

What I don’t like about this dress:

  • It doesn’t fit.
  • In spite of my understitching, the facings still flip out.

If I had to do it all over again, I would have graded the pattern for a better fit and lined it to get rid of the facing problem. The pattern is really cute, so I might make it again, after the traumatic memories of sewing this dress have faded.

In the meantime, it’s a great spinning dress.

You can find all the submitted Catnap Dresses in the Catnap Dress Flickr group.


  1. You look fantastic, and what a great range of coordinating cardigans!

  2. This is exactly why I never sew clothes - I feel like I can't ever get them to fit right! I would have cried MAJOR tears. Kudos to you for finishing it and you're right, with a cardigan it looks great :-) Will you make another with your new-found expertise?

  3. Oh yes the frustrations of sewing your own clothes...exactly why I haven't done it in a while...BUT...the dress does look SUPER cute with the cardigan, so wear it that way and enjoy because it is really a cute dress!

  4. In spite of everything, you wrote a heart-felt post, learned even more about the intricacies of garment-sewing, AND the dress IS super cute on you! Wear it with pride!

  5. Oh no! It looks perfect with the pink cardigan! I'm so sorry it doesn't fit! At least it's too big and not too small! :) wear it with the cardigan and it's just adorable! And make another that will be fantastic and it wont' take as long because you know exactly what to do now! Great job!