Jungle January: Feline Style Is the Cat’s Meow

Looking at the calendar, I see it’s January. Not just any January though; this is Jungle January as hosted by Prttynpnk of Pretty Grievances. Not one to let a parade (especially one including both cats and sewing) pass me by, I’ve made up a skirt. Every time I read something style-advice related where someone wants to know how to add animal-prints to their wardrobe, the answer is almost always to treat leopard as though it were a neutral color. To me neutral means “skirt” since I usually prefer my skirts to be in the neutral range. I will confess, however, that the reason I had this fabric in my stash was not because I had purchased with the intent to make it into a skirt.

This story starts almost a year ago, when I happened to spend my 9th wedding anniversary in Portland. Lured by the promise of room service allowing us both to have breakfast in bed, Pete and I found overnight babysitting for the kids and booked a hotel room. Then we started planning our agenda for some time away from the kids. While candle-lit dinners or couples’ massages have built-in romance factors, sometimes just the beauty of a shared experience can be romantic…so we ended up at a Sleigh Bells concert that night. For anyone who doesn’t recognize that group, they were on SNL in February last year, which is how I first heard of them. The first description of the concert would be LOUD, followed by really fun. The lead singer, Alexis Krauss, wore impossibly cool, animal print, rocker-girl shorts for the performance, and something possessed me to think it would be a good idea for me to try to create something inspired by them for myself. After I found and bought some fabric, however, I realized that the thinness of the corduroy I’d ended up with made it unsuitable for shorts, even if I wore them with tights. I stashed it rather than making it up*. In honor of Jungle January, I took it out of the stash and turned it into something useful.

I’ll be honest, I don’t have a lot of leopard in my closet. I do have another skirt from this pattern (Simplicity 5914, now out-of-print  edit: not true, it’s still available) that I made forever ago, and I wear it often (that one is grey and slightly boring which makes it easy to wear with almost everything else I own). Either because I used completely different fabric for this make, or maybe accidentally made it a size larger than I remember making the previous one, the new one seems to fit looser than the old. I’m on the fence about whether to take it in a smidgen or not. Sometimes it’s useful to have a skirt with a slightly larger waistband than others in the closet. I figure I’ll wear it this way, and if it bothers me, I’ll take it in later. Since this print is something new, I thought I’d try out a couple of different looks for this skirt. The pics above seem a little more playful. In the ones below, I was channeling a more serious side.

As I made this skirt, I encountered multiple comments from Guinevere about how much she LOVES leopard print (hint, hint). I didn’t have enough fabric left to make her an entire matching garment, but I managed to use up some of the scraps to make her something I’d been planning to make up anyway. Based on this skirt 
which I had pinned a while ago as an idea I thought Guinevere would like, and adding my leopard fabric, I came up with the following self-drafted insanity.

It’s a rectangle of fabric I had left-over from a skirt I made myself many years ago. It’s some sort of suede-like/moleskin sort-of fabric, but without the shiny backing of most moleskin fabrics. I measured the approximate length I wanted, then had Guinevere stand with one leg in front of the other to measure the width so I could make sure I gave her enough walking ease. I made the seam be the center back, and centered my embellishments on the half-way point of the fabric folded width-wise. 

I used Wonder-Under to stick the leopard pieces to the skirt, but since the skirt is fuzzy-ish, I didn’t think they’d really stick, especially since I was afraid of leaving iron marks if I ironed too long. So I went around each edge with a narrow zig-zag to hold things in place. The bow is a hair clip from Claire’s (exactly the same as the ones in her hair in the pictures above except for the color.) She liked the pink one so much she wore out the clip part. Instead of putting a new hair clip on the bow, I’ve safety-pinned it to the skirt. I’m pretty sure the bow isn’t washable, so this way I can take it off when the skirt needs to be laundered.

After I got all the embellishments the way I wanted them, I used a lightening-bolt stitch to sew some wide black elastic to the top of the skirt. I pulled the elastic tight as I sewed, and the skirt fabric was significantly longer than the elastic, so the skirt gathered itself as it attached to the elastic. I think if I were to try this idea again, I’d place the embellishments just a little lower down so they wouldn’t be so much at risk for getting lost in the folds of the skirt gathers. Overall, though, I’m pretty happy with it, and Guinevere even more so.

There you have it. Jungle January projects completed and ready to wear. Thanks to Prttynpnk for giving me some incentive to stretch my sartorial boundaries and add some “catitude” to my wardrobe (c’mon, you think I could resist including that pun?). I’m watching Pretty Grievances hoping to see plenty more feline-inspired garments made up by fellow sewers throughout the month. In our Gru-cat’s case, he gets to wear the feline look all the time, without sewing.
* Just because I didn’t use the corduroy to make shorts doesn’t mean I’ve given up on the idea of making impossibly cool rocker-girl leopard print shorts for myself. It just means I need to find a more suitable fabric.

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