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What do you get when you mix cats with puff paint?

A cute little sweatshirt for my niece, of course.

Once upon a time when I was a wee little girl, I had a favorite sweatshirt. It was pink and short sleeved. And, as if that wasn’t enough to make it the best sweatshirt ever, it was appliqued with a colorful bunny that was outlined in puff paint and jewels. Yes, puff paint and jewels. When I saw BurdaStyle’s Girl’s Long Top 12/2011 #141 pop up in my reader a month or two ago, my heart leaped: my long ago favorite sweatshirt – with pockets!!

I immediately started plotting a gift for my niece. I knew I had enough of the oatmeal knit from Fine Fabrics that I’d used a year ago for a previous garment, so I was all set for fabric. But, what about the design? While the eagle on the above top is fabulous, I wanted something that screamed, “I’m the niece of someone who grew up in the 80s”! Enter applique. Enter puff paint. And enter cats.

Hello, 80s. I heard you were back in fashion. This is totally what you meant by being back, right?!

I based my cat applique off of a similar cat I’d seen on a display bag in my neighborhood quilting shop, Eddie’s Quilting Bee. After sketching the cat out on paper, I cut out each of the pieces to make my pattern. I then played with the quilting cottons I had on hand until I was happy with the design. I chose to make the head, ears, feet, legs, and tail all the same pattern so that all of the patterns wouldn’t be too overwhelming. I then used my pattern to cut out my fabric pieces and my secret ingredient: Steam-A-Seam 2.

Steam-A-Seam 2 is wonderful for applique because it temporarily sticks to fabric with a little bit of pressure. You can move pieces around as long as your heart desires, and then when you’re happy with the layout, you can permanently affix your applique to your garment with the heat from an iron. It comes with two backings. The one that’s easiest to remove comes off first, and then it’s pressed on to each of the applique pieces. Then, the slightly harder to remove backing is taken off. In the large image above, I zoomed in to try to show you the texture of the Steam-A-Seam 2 on the back of the cheek. I then positioned it onto the cat’s face and pressed until it held. As I built the face up, I moved pieces as needed until I was happy with the layout.

Once I had the head together, I started positioning everything on the front of the shirt, building up the cat piece by piece. When I was happy with it, I gave it some heat from the iron to fix it in place. Then it was time for the puff paint. If you attempt to make your own puff-painted applique (you need more puff-painted applique in your wardrobe, I promise!), I’d highly recommend a bunch of practice first. Not only so that all of your lines will be even, but also so that you figure out how to keep from dragging your hands through it. I was trying to be oh so careful, but I still managed to get it all over everything. Most spots I could blot out, but there was a tiny little heart shaped one just to the left of the top of the belly that persisted. The worst was right at the neckline, but I just cut it off. Hopefully my niece won’t mind a little extra scoop in her neck. Less messy ways to decorate the edges of the applique may have included thread, just in case you’re looking for alternative methods.

I love the finished product. It reminds me of my own from years ago, minus the jewels and professional puff paint job, but plus the cat and the awesome pockets. I mean, what little kid wouldn’t love a secret kangaroo pouch? I know I would have. This little sweatshirt is currently winging its way up to my niece. Here’s to hoping she loves it half as much as I loved mine!

BurdaStyle member Amy (a.k.a. ahearta) lives in San Francisco and spends her days working as a scientist. She’s enthusiastic about sewing, and started her blog, Sew Well, to reflect on her efforts to sew well.


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    Feb 24, 2013, 09.51 PMby kess

    I love this! such a great idea! Is puff paint safe in the wash?? Thanks!!!

    1 Reply
    • Sushi_party_large

      Mar 1, 2013, 12.15 AMby notdeadredhead

      It most definitely is! I, too, had a shirt with puff paint and jewels that I loved as a kid. However, mine was a sunny, little island. X^D The paint will want to peel away (or kids will want to peel it off) after a couple years of wearing and washing. Just let the paint fully dry before attempting to do anything else with the piece, and you should be perfectly fine. :^)

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    Feb 22, 2013, 09.51 AMby vasea

    It makes me wanna try it, too. This is gorgeous.

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    Feb 22, 2013, 03.46 AMby Anniemollison

    That is fantastic. I have been playing around with applique’s of monsters for my boys lately and this info has really helped, thankyou.

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    Feb 21, 2013, 10.54 PMby Cristina Staicu

    This is so unique and super cool :)

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    Feb 21, 2013, 06.02 PMby lisa g

    this is adorable! i think the pattern is super cute, but you totally made it awesome with the cat/puff paint applique! oh man, i puff painted loads of tee shirts in the 80’s… love it!

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    Feb 21, 2013, 08.11 AMby Mary Athey

    This is.just gorgeous.x

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    Feb 21, 2013, 06.50 AMby rabitgrl

    Super cute! I would love to try this :o)

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