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Diagram of compartments for first "page" of cats

Last year, it belatedly occurred to me that my mother-in-law was excited about the time my father-in-law’s sister sent him fifty little presents for his fiftieth birthday. And that she had given my husband forty ducks for his fortieth (we kept a flock of Khaki Campbells at the time)… and that we’d never done that for her.

Since I have entirely too much felt, the logical thing to do was make seventy tiny felt cats. (For the record: if you’re going to do this for someone I recommend getting it out of the way when they’re younger.)

Diagram of compartments for second "page" of cats

I started with the five tiny cats on Runo’s blog and for the most part just made variations on those patterns. I experimented with varying types of embellishment (and with varying degrees of success), and made cats with whatever theme struck my fancy. The black winged cat came about when I heard the news of Ursula K. LeGuin’s death, for example.

In my head, I expected the cats to be a throwaway thing, or perhaps she’d let guests take them home. But for the party, my husband and his siblings strung the cats as a banner over the living room couch… and they’re still there, a year later, somewhat to the unhappiness of my father-in-law. “If they get put in a box, no one will ever see them,” my mother-in-law explained to me. Clearly, the solution is a display box.

Diagram of compartments for third "page" of cats

Enter an even more ridiculous project for this year’s birthday: a custom box with a compartment for each cat. I had a couple of sheets of 1/8” Davey board, and for some reason decided it would be a good idea to make not only the box but its dividers out of that. Overkill? Well, yes.

The diagrams above came from my kitchen-table photo shoot of the finished cats, four hours before putting my husband and them on a flight at 5am - not only was the lighting terrible, the pink heart cat somehow didn’t make it into the shots and the only picture I had of it was on a red tablecloth. I was just trying to document each one so I could make a list of the inspiration for each before I forgot them.

Moire fabric

Naturally, I should have shipped this thing out Wednesday or Thursday, but turns out that lining all those little compartments with book cloth takes awhile. I picked up some discontinued home dec fabric at JoAnn, and used Heat-n-Bond to fuse it to some rice paper because it was a little too transparent to Heat-n-Bond directly to the bookboard. For proper archival book cloth it should have been pasted to the rice paper, but let me remind you this is for “throwaway” felt cats.


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