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Crazy Cat Lady Tailor Time

May 13, 2012

This one goes out to all the pet people! This particular post is cat-focused, but doggies are always welcome to hang.I like 'em all!

Pets wearing clothes in one of those polarizing topics. Some people think it's hilarious to put clothes on their pets, while others think it's incredibly cruel. My stance on the topic is in the middle -- if the pet is OK with it, so am I, but it breaks my heart to see an animal struggle or thrash around in fear or discomfort.

However, there are some cat breeds that actually benefit from having a good shirt. These include the hairless Sphynx and the curly-haired Rex breeds. Because the fur on these guys is either missing or less dense than your average house cat, they lose their body heat easily. Their exposed skin also puts them at risk for sunburn when they fall asleep too long in a sunbeam. Seriously, you do NOT want to deal with a cat with a sunburn.

I am lucky enough to have a Devon Rex named Mr. Burns in my brood -- so I'm familiar with the constant heat-seeking of a chilly feline. To help him out, I decided to try my hand at making him a shirt. Luckily, Mr. Burns is one of those rare cats that doesn't mind wearing clothes a bit.

First, I took his measurements and drew up a plan. (I am keenly aware that he's a butterball. We're working on it.) I measured him around the widest part of his belly, across his back from one shoulder to another, and the length from his neck to almost the base of his tail.

Note that my sketch for the top and bottom pieces is woefully off, proportionally speaking.

1-cat-shirt.jpgTo start cutting on the fleece I selected, I first cut a piece 11 inches wide and 13 inches long. The grain runs along the 13 inch length so the piece stretches across the 11 inch span. I folded the piece in half so I could cut the fabric according to my measurements and keep it symmetrical.

2-cat-shirt.jpgTo start shaping the piece, I first cut a curve along the bottom. The shirt will be longer on the cat's back and a little shorter on the belly, so the cat can groom as normal without getting a mouthful of fleece.

3-cat-shirt.jpgNext, I made a cut from the widest part of the piece at the bottom, angling in to the narrowest measurement at the top. For Burnsy, I wanted an 8 inch width across the back of the neck. Because cats' necks are very delicate -- much more so than a dog's -- it's better to cut the neck wide and then take it in a little after a fitting than to have it too tight.

4-cat-shirt.jpgThen I cut semicircles for the leg holes.

5-cat-shirt.jpgTo cut the belly of the shirt, I cut another rectangle, this one 9 inches wide, and folded it in half as I did the first rectangle. Then I aligned the folded back piece with the underpiece and used it as a cutting guide.Not that the folded edge of the back piece sits (folded) and inch back from the folded edge of the underpiece.

6-cat-shirt.jpgAfter the two pieces were cut, I just joined them at the sides with the serger, then I cut two pieces of soft rayon knit each 6 inches by 2 inches, and used those to make mini sleeves that finished the arm holes. Since I'm working with fleece, I'm not going to add bulk by hemming the top or bottom. Here's the shirt laid out flat:

7-cat-shirt.jpgOK, time to fit it on Mr. Burns! Forgive the fuzziness in these images. Anyone who has tried to take photos of a pet knows that they rarely cooperate. As you can see, this shirt run a little tight across the upper back -- the arm holes need to be cut wider.

8-cat-shirt.jpgMr. Burns didn't seem to bothered, and trotted all over the house in his new shirt, but the fit did bother me, and it did limit his range of motion slightly -- a big no-no in pet clothes.

9-cat-shirt.jpgThis shot of him walking from the side really shows how much it's pulling around his front leg.

10-cat-shirt.jpgSo, I decided to try a second shirt, this one out of a lightweight cotton knit. For this version, I also skipped the sleeves and cut the arm holes wider. I am happy to report a much better fit.

11-cat-shirt.jpgAs you can see, I need to take in the neck a bit or add a small amount of elastic. But first I'll have to wrestle it off of Mr. Burns, who seems to be enjoying his new finery quite a bit!


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1 Comment

This is so cute!! i have to try and make this for my cat, hopefully she will like it as much as yours seems to like it.

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This page contains a single entry by Holly Frey published on May 13, 2012 10:41 PM.

Knitting: Picking up stitches was the previous entry in this blog.

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