Wild Space Kitties!

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Calling all Wild Space Kitties! Here’s a costume that is purrrrrfect for you.

(This was supposed to appear as a DIY costume craft on alphamom.com but it turns out that Space Kitty is a beer company and not appropriate for a parenting site but guess what? I can totally post it here! Beer, schemer. Let’s make Wild Space Kitties a thing!)

First off a warning: This costume is ridiculously easy and ridiculously difficult at the same time. If you’ve never sewed with faux fur then this would be a great project to start with because guess what? You CAN do it! It was my first time sewing fur and I did it! Go me! But it’s also ridiculously messy, so check your OCD at the door.

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Here is what you’ll need:

  • 2 yards or more of faux fur
  • thread (color doesn’t matter because it does not show up in this wild mess of fur)
  • a sewing machine
  • fabric scissors
  • a wire coat hanger
  • a large dowel or broom handle to wrap your coat hanger wire around (This was Payam’s brilliant idea.)
  • ribbon or long skinny piece of t-shirt fabric (leftover fabric from this craft works great)

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Lay out your fabric fur-side down. You can create a pattern from a paper bag or some paper or you can free-hand it. Your pieces need to roughly look like the drawing below: 2 head pieces, two paws (one piece each) and two tail pieces.

Print

Faux fur is such a mess when you cut it. The loose fur floats all over the place. Just accept that it’s going to make a mess and make the best of it. Think of it as magical dust floating all around you making everything pretty and fuzzy. Sew somewhere that is easy to vacuum later and keep some packing tape on hand. You can even tape down where you are going to cut first and control some of the mess that way. (If you have any OCD tendencies I would definitely recommend using tape to control the fuzz.)

Okay, now that we have that out of the way let’s just get in there and make a mess. It’s worth it.

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Cut your pieces. Then lay them out how you are going to sew them.

Fold the paw pieces in half. Lay the front of the cat head (fur facing in) on top of the back of the cat head (fur to fur). Lay your tail pieces together, fur to fur. Pin. (Or don’t. I lived on the wild side and didn’t pin. My fur slightly crept askew as I sewed but I found it didn’t really matter that much. I just trimmed the uneven parts at the end and it didn’t show anyway. Fur is very forgiving.)

Now get ready to sew! Set machine to a zig zag stitch and get in there!

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Sew the outer edges of the cat head together like you were creating a cat-head pillow while leaving the inside head-hole un-finished. Fur doesn’t need a finishing seam. Win!

Sew your tail together, leaving the butt-end open. This is where you will insert your wire later.

Sew around one side of your paws, leaving the bottom open to insert hands into.

After you are done sewing, cut your threads and trim off any excess fur that might be sticking out. This will make it easier to turn inside-out later. Snip your rounded corners with a small snip, being careful not to snip over your stitches of course.

Then turn everything inside out.

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Remove any lose fur. Shake it out. Do a little dance. Fur everywhere!

Next is a really important step that was thought up by Payam and I failed to photograph it because he did it in the garage for me while I was sewing. Take your coat hanger hanger and un-bend it. (Pliers will help.) Then carefully wrap it around a thick dowel or broom handle to create a long spring-like coil. This is the magical wire that will make your space kitty tail pliable and yet stiff and not pokey and sharp like normal wire would be. Thank you Payam!

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After you’ve turned your tail inside out, insert this coil into your tail. Then close up the end and sew your ribbon or t-shirt string over the closed ending. This tie will make it so you can tie your tail around your waist like so. Wear a big hoodie over top (Because hoodies are a very important Space Kitty wardrobe piece. I will make this a thing, I swear.) and you’ll never know it was just tied on and not actually attached.

Then put on your hat and fur mittens, draw on a kitty nose and whiskers with white eye-liner pencil and you are now a space kitty!  Light-up blinky space boots optional.

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Happy Trick-or-Treating!

So I had a crazy idea.

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I don’t know what came over me. I was walking my dogs over the footbridge that I always do on my way to the fake lake and I suddenly came up with a thought: What if I had a dance party on the footbridge? I know this is a crazy idea because what if we caused an accident on the freeway below when all the cars were distracted by a bunch of weirdos dancing above them. But I didn’t think about that until later when I ran my crazy idea by Payam and he pointed out the danger. So I moved my idea to the beginning of the footbridge where some trees overgrow and the bridge is hidden from the cars below. But still, what a crazy idea, right? The more I thought about it, the more I was in love with it.

I’ve had a few setbacks lately with my creative ideas and I just wanted to do something really fun and cheap. That narrows your options by a lot but photography and dancing are FREE! I was supposed to throw a make-up party at our local hoity-toity mall and it fell through when I realized it would cost me more than it was worth. And the management at the mall kept making me jump through more and more hoops. It just turned into a headache and I had to cancel it even though a lot of people were excited about coming. Sometimes you just have to cut your losses. It still might happen but if I’ve learned anything this tax season it’s that I need to stop spending money I don’t have. I always put myself in these ridiculous situations and I need to get better at saying no.

Long story short I had a vision in my mind. We have this portable boombox amp thing that can play music really loud AND it’s cordless. It’s really cool.  It’s made quite a difference in the ambiance of our parties. Why not cart that thing out to the middle of the bridge, I thought? We can bring the dance party with us!

I’ve always loved the footbridge. It’s kind of my own slice of urbanity in the middle of boring snoresville suburbia. I always love walking over the ocean of traffic on my way to a peaceful lake on the other side.  It’s just a really unique spot. When the sun shines across the horizon at sunset it can turn magical. So I strung up some battery operated lights, emailed all my close crazy friends who do silly things like this for me and we set out.

Only problem was I was the only one who could really make this work and that meant I had to be model AND photographer. I wanted to be behind the camera, capturing my vision but nobody was really into dancing like a crazy fool like I was. So I set up my tripod, asked Payam to take a few pictures and then danced my head off. I waved and shouted and kicked my furry unicorn leg warmers (that I borrowed from Joon) in the air and everybody thought I was a big fool.

And I was. I was a big fat sweaty dancing fool. But thankfully the ones who are near and dear to me love me for being a big fool. Even though Bug was probably the most embarrassed of me (purely because of her age and not because we are not kindred spirits in weirdness) she danced with me too. She kept trying to pull me to the side when people walked by, like it pained her to have the general public see me acting this way. I know it was hard for her with her friends being there too. But at the same time who’s going to make her crazy memories if not me? I think kids need to be embarrassed of their parents once in a while. It makes for good stories.

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It IS a good story. But mostly it was a good lesson for me. I did a hard thing and I learned a ton. I organized a spontaneous dance party and really put myself out there. It wasn’t a complete win. I see lots of failure when I look at the photos (the 200 I am not sharing with you.) I see awkwardness. I see myself being vulnerable. I see parts of myself I don’t like seeing. I see others looking at me.

My energy was at a 200 while theirs is barely getting up to 80 which in itself is really cool because they are there and not sitting at home on their couches. I see love. I see my close friends putting themselves out there for me because they love me even when I am silly and weird. I see the light. I see how I didn’t have my camera set properly to catch the light… I have so much to learn. I would love to do it again and apply what I have learned but I’m not sure I could wrangle another crowd together. It’s hard to get people to dance in public!

One of the coolest things that happened was when a woman walked by and started dancing with us. That warmed my heart and made me so happy. A lot of people walked by us and smiled. Some people bobbed their shoulders but this woman woman raised her arms and sashayed in a circle as she walked by us. She even came back for another round and told us that our party made her feel like she was in New Orleans! golden-hour-dance-party-5We were a small bunch. But what a bunch! These are the people who will probably come visit me when I am dying in the hospital. (Well maybe not Bug’s friends but who knows!) These are the people who would come rescue me if I had a flat tire on the side of the road in a rainstorm. These are the people who wear unicorn suits and totally understand me when I have panic attacks.sandra-at-the-golden-hour-dance-party-photographerThese are the people I met when I moved to the apartment complex. That apartment complex is kind of known for being a transitional place where people move to when they are in between stage in their life. Lots of single moms. Lots of divorcees. Lots of people who couldn’t afford to live in big houses but it was the nicest place they could afford near a really good school. My heart runs deep for these friends.

maria-and-the-dragon-hunter-at-the-golden-hour-dance-party-photographerMy dragon-hunter model who poses for me when I do craft posts for Alphamom now that Bug is too big for little kid crafts…golden-hour-dance-party-photographer

And Neilochka! Neil isn’t from my apartment complex but he was in town and as a fellow photographer (who’s work I adore) I knew he’d be down.

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Bug and her crew of school friends. They think I’m nuts but not too nuts to completely shun. I think they reluctantly admit I have a good idea or two when nothing else better is going on. Emphasis on the latter.

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We danced for forty-five minutes, counting down the last minutes zealously. And then we packed up and went home happy and tired.

I felt insecure about it for days. But now I’m putting it down in the books as a learning curve to help me through the next big idea. I wonder what it will be?!