Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sew What?! Letting the Cat Out of the Bag!

I am not a cat person.  Truth be told, I am not an anything person as I am allergic to just about everything.  Whatever gene it is that makes people melt at the sight of sweet, little kittens playing with an over-sized ball of yarn is the same one that was replaced in me by the gene that makes my eyes swell shut so I can't even see those precious, little kittens.  I have nothing against animals, or a person's deep bond with them; I only mention it because as I was browsing through some vintage issues of Better Living, I found a cat that changed my thinking and my life. 

Better Living - October 1951

The Cat's Whiskers Bag on the cover of the October 1951 issue of Better Living seemed like an ideal wacky tacky project.  It became even wackier seeing as it is February 21 and the purse is described as an "Amusing Handbag for Fall."  Leave it to me to disobey the better thinking of the editors at Better Living.  Anyhow, despite my hyper-histamine reaction to all things feline, I set out to make the cat's whiskers bag.  Below are the materials list and the instructions from the magazine should you choose to make a Cat's Whiskers Bag of your own.


* 1/4 yd. of felt
* A bit of contrasting felt (I used vinyl)
* 2 Buttons for eyes
* 5 Pipe cleaners
* Zipper
* Embroidery floss

The instructions for this "Better Living original."

In true wacky tacky fashion, I abandoned the instructions rather early on.  The finished bag is supposed to measure 7.25" in diameter.  That seemed rather petite to me, so I just used a dinner plate for the circle template and kind of free-handed everything else.  The instructions indicate felt as the material to use, when it is clear from the photograph that the cover girl's purse is made from the same corduroy as her smart hat and coat.  Clearly, the actual purse is only inspired by the cover photo.  In turn, the wacky tacky version is also not an exact replica.  Because I increased the scale of the bag, I had to size-up the eyes and ears as well.  The bag went together very easily but it should be noted that I was rather careless and didn't employ expert techniques (read - hello, hot glue).

I used gray craft felt because it was on sale and it seemed to me that
a cat face bag wouldn't get a lot of use.  I really just intended the bag
 for blog purposes only.  When I showed it to Mary, however, she (also
not a cat lover) squealed and said that it was cool.  I explained that it
 would probably last through only one or two uses.  I am not sure of the
 lifespan of craft felt and pipe cleaners.

Resources from the back of Better Living.
I looked up Bates Fabrics and the only mention I could find
was in a blog post from What I Found.

The finished Cat's Whiskers Bag.
Aside from the felt and pipe cleaners, I used only what was in the
stash including the zipper, iridescent, aqua vinyl, and vintage,
faceted lucite buttons.  MEOW!!!

I am still deathly allergic to cats, but I will "let the cat out of the bag" and admit that there may be a little room for a cat-lover in all of us.


Mr. Tiny


  1. Ok, this is awesome. I am amazed that you not only found this bag with instructions, but that you have a vintage copy of Better Living. Well done! I am having a creative surge right now, I want to have a collaborate and sew day.

    1. I'm in! I've got tons of vintage magazines we can go through to get ideas.

  2. Oh my gosh!! This is so cute and I'm not a cat person either. I might just have to make one of these!

    1. How cute! I love that bag! It turned out really nice too. I love cats. :)

    2. Reagan - Thanks! I think the possibilities are endless. Why stop with a cat?

      Trixie - Thank you. It's amazing what one can do with a little felt, vinyl, and pipe cleaners!!!