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Aug 31, 2011

"Aunt Hilda" unmasked!

Readers, the cat's out of the bag, and I'll have more to say about cats in a minute.  The true identity of my Aunt Hilda, I mean, my "Aunt Hilda" has been revealed!

Those of you who happened to visit BurdaStyle yesterday know that I am leading a sew-along there, starting yesterday and running throughout September, which just happens to be National Sewing Month.  I'll have a new post each week!

There are two sew-alongs happening simultaneously, actually.  The other -- more elementary, by the way -- is being led by the indomitable Gretchen, who, based on her first sew-along post yesterday, seems to be veering alarmingly into Edie Beale crazy-cat-lady territory.

Most of you already know Gretchen as The Selfish SeamstressOK, she's really Gertie, but seriously, there are so many cats on Gretchen's blog that it is easy to confuse her with that other catty gal -- who is also a cat owner, I believe.   

I was actually thinking of doing a blog post today titled Cat Sewers vs. Dog Sewers but I woke up too late to tackle it.  I still might if somebody else doesn't steal the idea.  Don't, OK?

But let's get back to Aunt Hilda.

Aunt Hilda is BurdaStyle Halter Dress Pattern #116.  Pretty, though I'll be skipping the coordinating Lifesaver.

And since it's just you and me here on my blog, can I just share a little something?  This pattern is haaard, at least it is for me.  Especially because I'm making it for somebody else, in this case, New York actress Leah X.

Wait -- Leah is an actress: don't actresses PAY to have people remember their names (like on That Girl)?  Her name is Leah Curney -- C.U.R.N.E.Y. -- it's no secret.  Musical plays, straight plays, juggling -- Leah's your gal!  She also has a great attitude, as opposed to my cousin Cathy, who just has attitude.


Here we are hard at work, and let me assure you if the roles had been reversed, I would have knocked Leah flat out on the floor in that pose, need I say more?  

As you well know, I am not the kind of sewer who sits down with directions and carefully studies each step beforehand.  Plus, come on, you know how Burda directions tend to be -- German translated into English by an Italian.  So I didn't order enough fabric, since the bolt for the fabric I chose was narrower than the bolt Burda used to estimate yardage on the pattern directions.

The powers-that-be had to Express Mail me extra.

The skirt for the dress has four pleats, four very deep pleats, meaning it uses a lot of fabric -- nearly enough to make three skirts when you think about what's actually going on in a pleat (the fabric is folded back on itself, and then attaches to an underlay).

Here I am fitting the skirt onto the bodice and I assure you it won't make Leah look fat when it's finished.  But it's a lot of fabric and I chose a particularly heavy cotton (it's hard to order the perfect fabric sight unseen, I have learned).

Another challenge is that all the skirt panel seam lines have to match the bodice seam lines, and the skirt not only has six panels, but also four of them have a pleat underlay.  So narrowing a skirt panel is not as simple as merely restitching a single seam.  The seams attach to the underlay, over which the outer (blue) fabric is folded -- does that make sense?  I may have to check out how Gretchen is making her pleated skirt.  Is that cheating?

(BTW, would you press the seam allowances attaching the outer skirt fabric to the underlay panels open or to the side?  The fold is on the seam allowance itself.  Does anybody know what I'm talking about?)

Finally, I don't have Leah here all the time for fittings, nor do I have a body form her size.  So there's a lot of waiting involved.

OK, enough bellyaching.  It's very fun to make this dress and I hope you'll follow along -- or at least follow the backstage gossip here on MPB.   It's so nice to know I can unburden myself among supportive friends!

In closing....Cat People: don't you think they are a little strange?  I mean, think of all the famous dog heroes out there: Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, Benji, the list goes on and on.

What comes to mind when you think of cats?

I have nothing against cats, but I do recognize that they are scary and often evil.

Do you own an evil cat?

And how will YOU be celebrating National Sewing Month? 

Have a great day, everybody!

Have you réjuvéniqued today?


  1. Hah, you're funny! Made me read too fast and write what I had to remove... :-)
    The dress looks great, I'm more and more inspired to actually join the sew-along... we'll see!

  2. i have an evil cat. here is photographic proof:

  3. Evil cats!! I have owned a healing cat, a cat who defended me from 3 very large dogs, simultaneously, and a male cat who instantly became a surrogate mother to a stray kitty. Cats are mostly angels with fur!!

  4. For the seam pressing on the pleat underlays: Press them to the side (closed)! I made the mistake of pressing them open the first time on my disastrous Easter dress. Just picture the way the skirt will hang at rest and it will all make sense.

  5. I am a cat and a dog person/sewer. That does not mean I sew outfits for my animals, though. I am not one of those kind of sewists! I really like the dress; have to pop over to Burda and play catch up....I would finish the seam edges of the skirt, and press them open; if your fabric is a bit heavier, it will lay nicer. Just my opinion, though. It is always hard to judge, when the fabric isn't right in front of you. Good is beautiful fabric.

  6. "Angels with Fur" -- that's rich! ;)

  7. Me and my husband are dog people (we have two dogs). I am not going to participate in the sew - along, but will definitely follow it on BurdaStyle.
    I really enjoy your blog.

  8. Well, I have two dogs now (the "Ps" from my blog) - originally I was a cat person but cats don't do well outside (or if they escape) in the foothills of LA. So, we have two Kerry Blue Terriers - we do love your blog posts.

    Congrats on the dress - I can't wait to see it - you are amazing P.

  9. Isn't Elaine the Selfish Seamstress...not Gertrude? And I'm a DOG person who just lost my Jack Russell Terrier to cancer yesterday afternoon....Hunter will be missed! Can't wait to see the finished project.

  10. Dog person here, but it is really our cats that "help" me sew.

    Did you know there is a cat Lassie?

  11. I always find myself horrified at the vast number of sewing blog posts that include pictures of cats - not just the random oh-look-at-the-cute-little-kitty random pics but photos of projects with the person's cat laying on it. I suppose it's one thing if you choose to own a cat and you're sewing for yourself, being used to all of your clothes covered in a constant sheen of cat fur. But many of them are projects for other people. ew! My husband is terribly allergic so all i can imagine are clients with puffed out faces and dripping eyes from the allergic reactions! Personally i'd love to have a dog if we had space but don't think i would *ever* allow an animal of any sort in my sewing space much less to lie on fabric going into a sewing project. Again, ew.

    Dress is looking nice, I love the deep pleats.

  12. I'm Bi.
    Meaning, I have both cats and dogs. My current dogs don't come upstairs where my sewing room is located, partly because it is guarded by "The Upstairs Cat". Of our 3 cats this one only ventures down to the first floor at night when the dogs are in bed. So he has also become "Fabric Cat". On bad days he is "Hallway Shit Cat" when he decides his TWO litter boxes are not clean enough for him. But mostly he just sits quietly and watches me sew.

  13. Had a dog that liked to chew on my tailor's chalk pencil. Bought a few, then switched to a chalk tracing wheel. Still have one of those pencils somewhere, and every once in a while I come across it and reflect upon the teeth marks.

    I think the real difference between cat people and dog people is one's ability to clean a litter box, or not.

    While I enjoy all animals, dogs communicate the most with me. That and the one litter box experience (SAKES ALIVE!), made me comfortable joining the dog sewist camp.

  14. I was dog person until...years later...I finally realized that cats were people too. I prefer medium & large size dogs (sorry Willy & ... the other one) & large cats, but really, I love animals in all sizes.

    I tried to love the Burdastyle site, but I'm afraid there isn't enough time for it all, & Burdastyle is on the bottom of my list. Except for guest posts by my favorite bloggers. :D

    That dress looks like it's going to be a hit!

  15. I love both. But they don't love me. I'm allergic to dogs, and one cat scratch can land me in the hospital. So I'm a no pet person!

  16. I am a dog person first, but 3 abandoned cats have adopted our home. We feed them, and provide shelter from the heat, and they drive our last living dog crazy when he gets a glimpse of them. The good thing is that he has something to live for now.

    One has beautiful blue eyes. She had a collar with a bell. Then recently, the collor was removed. By who, I don't know. My husband thinks someone removed it so that she would have a better chance at catching prey. We are going to try and have them neutered. I am not sure if the one with blue eyes is a neutered male or female. She is kind of timid.

    I like cats, but I don't like kitty litter, but if I had to, I could do it.

    I really love the dress you are making. I have to finish my daughter's fancy pants that I am making her. The top is completed. I got in another funk.


  17. I love the honesty about the chalenges of this dress. (Way more helpful than cheery reassurance that the directions are clear and everything is easy!)
    I have both a cat and a dog. My current cat is quite nice, but I have owned an evil cat. She loved me but did not like others to visit our space! Both animals have their strengths and weaknesses. Dogs are meatheads and cats are selfish. They both know who they are and accept it. That makes them great to have around!

  18. Oh, I do own a cat who is a bit of a sociopath. His name is Troubles and it fits him really well. He's sweet when he wants to, just to keep you from kicking him out, I guess, but he also bites without warning. One minute he purrs happily, then he attacks your arm or leg. He also loves to knock down glasses and cups, specially if they're full of coffee.

    Ah, but I also have a second cat and a dog... what does that make me? A cat-dog person? LOL

  19. Oh Peter, you big silly. Don't you know we are ANIMAL lovers, we don't discriminate against anyone furred, feathered, finny or scaly? OK, I draw the line at spiders and such, but everyone else is equally deserving of my doting attention, and returns it in kind.

  20. Yes I own an evil cat. He's Black too (though he has a white patch on his belly and 3 white toes). But he's evil to everyone else. I see it as his way of protecting me. To me he's very loving

  21. Cats rule and dogs drool.

    And yes, my cat is evil. I keep wanting to call her a devil in disguise, but then I remember that she's not even trying to disguise it.

    PS I have nothing against dogs. But I do recognize that they are stinky, ugly and pitifully stupid.

  22. I've got cats - even won the random prize on the on the Sewing for Pets Challenge at PR (made a fancy cat bed). My big black cat looks a bit like that guy in the picture up there (minus the claws), but he's really a love. I also have a very mellow white cat (who happens to be deaf and therefore well tolerates noisy kids) and a super sweet tabby who gives little wet nose kisses on command.

  23. Jenny seems to have handled the seams the same way I did. Pressing them to the side, the seams laid flat, giving a sharper looking pleat and waistband. But, I clipped to the seam just above the hem to open it so the hem would steam and crease flatter. I was working with a fairly heavy wool fabric. In the cotton, the bulk around the seam in the hem area may not be as much of a problem. You will be able to determine which method you want to use when you get to that point. Congrats on the sew-a-long for Burda. A.

  24. I give you credit. “Aunt Hilda” looks great and I will definitely follow on MPB and Burda, but sadly I won’t be joining the sew along. As I’m easing myself back into sewing, a pattern that is haaard will send me running back to my RTW ways. I also do not relish the idea of a 40+ page jigsaw pattern. I also look fat in pleats.

    Like Beth O, I am Bi-Animal – but right now I only have a cat. I’d love to have a dog too, but our work schedules are too erratic for dog walking. My cats have always been gentle and loving and they stay by my side when I’m sick. They have alerted me to prowlers and keep the bugs away.

  25. Evil cat looks like my cat's twin. Yes, she lays on all projects too. Cats just seem to think that's where they belong.

  26. I love dogs, we share our home with four, two Papillon Pomeranian crosses (aka the littles) who provide constant entertainment, a Maltese who thinks humans besides my husband are only good for dispensing food, and we have a rare breed, a Blab (Border Collie/Lab cross) who is too smart, I am only grateful he doesn't have opposable thumbs, god only knows what he could do then. The Blab and one of the littles keep me company in the sewing dungeon, the Blab actually thinks it is his space. Whatever.

  27. I am a dog person and adore my beautiful boy (I use this term loosely as he was neutered as an act of social responsibility) that was adopted through the RSPCA and he keeps me comfortable while I sew and do housework. He's only stolen some sewing once for attention but the subsequent freak out as I realized he had a piece of fabric with pins in his mouth, has cured him of that.

    I do like cats but am terribly allergic. I've also been told I'm like a cat and maybe hate the competition..... :)

  28. Talking of famous film dogs. If you loved "Priscilla queen of the desert" filmed in the Australian outback just wait for the new dog film set in a remote Aust mining town.
    I saw the film "Red Dog" this week. Just don't miss it when it comes your way.

  29. My in-laws have a very evil cat. It pawed at my son's head when he was only a few months old. And it still chases my 6 yr old away. It only likes 2 people, my father-in-law, and one of my in-law's friends, it doesn't even like my Mother-in-law. All the grand kids are scared of it, and they should be, that cat is EVIL!!

  30. I am definitely a cat-person. Being allergic to cats, makes it kind of difficult tho...

    I am very happy, that we at last managed to find a allergy-friendly race: Sibirian forrest cat (freely translated from danish - Sibirsk skovkat)
    She is the most loving softy, with thick and long fur, plays with my sewing, especially elastic and ribbons.

    We bought her here: their cats are sooo well socialized, within 10 minutes of arrival, I had one cat draped across my shoulders, one in my lap and one stalking to find a spot to occupy my third non-existing hand.

    Yup, cat person, thats me!

  31. I am bi-animal (tri, actually, if you count ponies). I had 2 cats and 2 dogs until the boss pet, a geriatric Persian, Crossed The Rainbow Bridge last week (she was 19, I think that's 134 in human years). The dogs are the same size as cats and I think they are enjoying their current majority. Cats are a nuisance whether you cut fabric on a table or the floor, but dogs are even worse than cats when you are cutting on the floor. I've never had a cat pee on fabric as I was draping it over me while contemplating what it wanted to become. Unlike dogs.

  32. I'm a cat person mostly recovered from a mild childhood phobia about dogs. I have come to the conclusion that there is something in dog slobber that causes "dog behavior blindness" making otherwise intelligent people crazy. No, your dog barking for 16 straight hours is not adorable. No, lunging at me frothing at the mouth is not "saying hello." And when I tell you I am not fond of dogs, please do not scoop yours up, announce that your precious pooch is the special dog who will win me over, and drop it in my unsuspecting arms because the most recent time this happened the precious pooch bit my ear. (Yes, that has happened multiple times with different dog owners)


  33. I love animals, but our old house in an urban location plus our work schedules tilt us toward cats. Until my beloved old Molly went the rainbow way (thanks to previous commenter, a lovely term!), I took it for granted to have 18 pounds of purring on my toes on my sewing machine pedal, and warm snoozing through all projects, large and small, haaard (with swearing) and eeeeezy (with TCM). Now I miss her as she had hidden virtues: she controlled mice and insects more than we realized, and I've come to understand that the cats who populate the even bigger older houses in our neighborhood are working cats--they keep the houses free of mice, bats, rats, insects, and monster children who would otherwise sit on them! If I weren't working full time and commuting 2 hrs./day, I'd love to have a dog as well, but that will have to wait until retirement. Neither pet has altogether ideal pooping circumstances for humans, if you're responsible, imho. Kristina in Ohio

  34. The réjuvénique video is terrifying! Are they giving their faces electric shocks?!!!! Yikes! And she sits there staring into the mirror at that hideous mask!
    The seams that attach the pleats to the underlay should be pressed as stitched and then left flat, you'll see how it works when you put the dress together.

  35. I agree with Jenny, Anonymous and Ustabahippie - press the seams closed. I love your fabric choice!

  36. I like dogs, but prefer cats; probably because I have no patience for training a dog properly. With cats, you show them the litter box and the food dish; and you're done. Right now we only have two brother cats, both black on top with white fur next to their skin. I have no idea how they manage that. Neither is evil. Sir Sleek keeps my eldest company at night; and Sir Fluffy Tail sits on my old-fashioned tube monitor, where it's warm. Both are sweet boys.


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