Crafts for Kids
Dolls & Acc.
Paper Pieced Kitties with 3-D tails (because cats talk with their tails)
I don't have a lot of time to sew, and I'm fussy about my cats. That's how this project came
about. I enjoy paper piecing, and, as you probably know, I love cats. But I didn't want to do a
whole wall hanging of pieced blocks, or a whole jacket, so I decided to do individual blocks and
applique them on a vest. I had two ideas, so I made it a reversible vest. I'd seen, and even sewn,
a cat with no tail, and it looked fine, but I wanted to do something special. I got out my graph paper
and went through several tries before the one I'm sharing here.
Now if you don't like cats, (something I find hard to imagine), use this technique with dogs, or
cows, or anything you want to add something three dimensional to. Take the idea and run with it.
You can do this with many of the paper piecing designs you find in books and patterns.
Materials for blocks:
- " Fabric for background and design
- " Lining fabric (same as background)
- " Chenille Stems for first method, or heavy decorative thread
(I used "Cordessa") for the second method
Helpful to have:
- " Portable light box or Lucite sewing table and light
- " Fastube Tube Maker and Fasturn Tube Turner
- " Open toe foot
- " The Angler for sewing diagonal pieces (piece #6 on my cat pattern)
Procedure: Making a Tail
Method 1. If you want the tail to be from the same fabric that you're using for the cat, cut a bias strip 1 1/4" wide and 5"- 6" long. Stitch with a .2mm stitch length and a 1/4" seam, closing one end. I sewed the tiny tube with the Fastube Tube Maker and turned it with the #2 Fasturn Tube Turner.
Method 2. For a thread tail, choose a heavy thread or cord, or use many strands of a thinner thread. Make a "twisted cord" by starting with a piece about 4 times the length you want it to be. Twist it until it kinks, and fold it in half. Tie a knot at the end.
Procedure: Making the Block
- Make copies of the pattern you want to use. If you're going to applique separate blocks, you
may enlarge or reduce the pattern as you like and not worry about copy machine distortion. If you
want mirror images, trace the lines on the wrong side of one of the patterns. (The light box is
- Pattern pieces 1, 5, 6-1, 7, 8, and 9 are background fabric, and the others are the kitty. Use an
open toe foot if you have one, and follow general instructions in any paper piecing book, until you get to #6 pieces.
These need to be sewn together before attaching them to the paper. (A light box helps to see how
seams match up. Be sure to finger press or use your iron as you add the pieces.)
- Cut a 2" strip of each color fabric on the straight grain. Remember you're working on the back
of the paper pattern and your seam needs to be sewn so the cat's back goes down, not up. (I made
a few wrong before it sank in.) I found a gadget called "The Angler" to be great for sewing this kind
of angle, as well as miters. To get the pieced #6s in the right place I put a pin in about 1/4", on the
seam line, from the back. Then put the pin through from the front of the block where the diagonal
"6" line touches the "4" line. Make the "6" strip parallel to the line and pin it in place.
- You need to attach the tail before you put on piece 7. Pin it behind the on the pattern with the
raw edge or knot laying where piece 7 will be. Carefully sew it in place. Go back and forth several
times if you're using a twisted cord, and cut off the knot. Watch out for the wire of the chenille
stem as you sew. Add the rest of the pieces and give it a final pressing.
- Lay your finished piece right side down on a piece of the background fabric and sew all the way
around on the outside lines. Be sure that the tail doesn't get caught in your stitching. As you get
to a corner, stop one stitch short and angle across, using a couple of stitches diagonally across the
corner instead of pivoting once and making a sharp corner. Remove the paper, trim close to the
corners, cut a slit in the backing fabric only, and turn the piece right side out. Press it so the backing
doesn't show from the front.
- Pin or glue stick the finished block in place and use an invisible applique stitch, blanket stitch,
or zig zag to attach it. In a wall hanging, vest, or something that will be lined or quilted later, you
might want to cut away the backing and the lining of the block to leave just the front and no extra
layers. If you do this, use an applique or blunt scissors to keep from cutting the front fabric.
- Shape your tail! You may shape the chenille stem at a sassy angle, and you may want to tack
the twisted cord in a few places to get it the way you want it.
Add your imagination to this! You can use folded or pleated fabric for ears, flags on ships,
smoke from chimneys, wings for birds, petals for flowers, etc! Show me what you do!
Add your imagination to this! You can use folded or pleated fabric for ears, flags on ships, smoke from chimneys, wings for birds, petals for flowers, etc! Show me what you do!
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