Cats wearing bowties! Now that I’ve got your attention…

When I slowly began to get back into sewing garments after my last relapse, loose-fitting tees were at the top of my list. Luckily, I’d had the Frankie Top and Dress pattern stashed away with fabric to match. The skirt is one I made a while back but only just got around to wearing because I resisted hand-sewing in a hook and eye for months!

A woman stands in a veranda. She wears a white tee with black cat print, and a straight black denim skirt, with gold necklace and shoes.
Because the light is so damn harsh you get glamour shots of our filthy front veranda. There’s that plant, which I guess is kinda classy? Necklace and Diana Ferrari gold flats from the op shop.

The Frankie Top and Dress is another Tessuti pattern. I’ve made and worn to death their free Mandy Boat Tee and Our Fave Top patterns, so had high hopes for the Frankie. The fabric is a hilarious cotton/spandex jersey from Spotlight, in an off-white with a print of bow-tie wearing cats faces. It’s surprisingly nice quality for a Spotlight knit, though of course the print is off-grain, so expect those cats heads to be travelling every which way across the garment.

Despite fitting squarely in the measurements for size M, I chose to cut an XL after comparing the Frankie pattern to some of my well-fitting tees. Being aware of Tessuti’s penchant for ridiculously narrow sleeves, I also added some width to the XL sleeve so my arms didn’t look like sausages in a casing!

A woman stands in a veranda. She wears a white tee with black cat print, and a straight black denim skirt, with gold necklace and shoes.

And the result? Meh. The front has a turned-and-stitched finish like in Tessuti’s aforementioned tee patterns, and the back has a topstitched facing. The instructions call for clear elastic to be sewn into the back neck seam, then for the front to be encased in the back facing seam allowance. This is a neat but unfortunately bulky finish – the clear elastic is effectively doubled in the seam corner, and I just couldn’t get it to lay flat. You can also see how the clear elastic makes the back neck stand upright, and the facing has a tendency to bunch up and pull the back up with it.

The back neck of a woman's top sticks up and away from the body.
I know this is a weird looking photo, but trust me, it looked even weirder when I tried to crop my head out.

This may well be due to the thickness of the elastic I used – though I have used it with success in other knit garments. Others who have sewn the Frankie don’t seem to have this problem so it could be user error. Either way, it seems like too much bother for a simple tee pattern. I’m sure I’ll wear this to death because cats with bow ties, but I won’t make it again.*

A woman stands in a veranda. She wears a white tee with black cat print, and a straight black denim skirt, with gold necklace and shoes.

The skirt is Simplicity 3754, an out-of-print op shop find. It has a few cute variations – this one is view D, a straight skirt. The fabric is a black stretch denim from The Fabric Godmother. You might remember a while back I won a voucher to The Fabric Godmother in an Instagram contest. I bought some dark blue stretch denim, which went on to become my ill-fated, continually bleeding Misty Jeans. These were eventually thrown in the bin as after countless washings, treatments, and even dye remover, the dye was still there and still rubbing off onto everything it touched (or “crocking”).

A woman wears a straight black denim skirt and gold shoes.
You can see in this picture how much the denim has faded in ONE WASH – the corners of the waistband are basically white. I’m starting to feel I was thoroughly duped by The Fabric Godmother.

The Fabric Godmother were good enough to give me a store credit, so I chose an entirely different denim. Well, this denim had an entirely different problem – despite being advertised as 3% elastane, the fabric had barely any stretch at all. There’s a story to be told about the first project I made with this denim, but the upshot is, I soon realised it would work best in patterns drafted for non-stretch wovens – hence this skirt.

A woman wears a straight black denim skirt and gold shoes.

Besides adding 5cm length and nipping in the waist a little, this skirt was sewn pretty much straight out of the envelope. The more significant changes I made were style alterations, to make it more of a traditional denim skirt. There’s plenty of topstitching, and I converted the fly front zip to a proper fly front with shield – for some bizarre reason, the pattern had a turned-back front with no facing. Get it together, Simplicity.

Anyway, it all came together well in the end, and now I’ve got a good wardrobe staple. I’m surprised by how much I like this silhouette – you’ll have to take my word on it that it is far more flattering in person. I’m even more surprised that I could wear a straight skirt all day and not feel fatigued or constricted by it. I guess the vent allowed for plenty of leg movement? Who knows – but at this point, I’m just counting my blessings, and if wearing straight denim skirts is one of them, I’m happy!

A woman stands in a veranda. She wears a white tee with black cat print, and a straight black denim skirt, with gold necklace and shoes.
The deets:
Pattern: Tessuti Frankie Dress and Top
Pattern details: jersey knit dress and top pattern with two dress length one top length variation, four sleeve length variations. Available as a PDF download or limited stock paper pattern in sizes XXS-XL.
Fabric: Cotton spandex knit in pussy bow, ivory from Spotlight.
Other materials: Strips of Tessuti lightweight interfacing, to stabilise shoulders. Clear elastic.
Mods: Size XL.
– Moved shoulder seam forward just a couple of mm’s
– Sewed tee length with short sleeves
– Brought front neckline down 3cm

The deets:
Pattern: Simplicity 3754 – 6 Skirts Made Easy, view D straight skirt.
Pattern details: 2007 printed pattern: Misses’ Slim and Flared Skirts, Each in Two Lengths. Has 3 flared and 3 straight skirt variations, each with shaped waistband, belt loops, fly front and slash front pockets.
Errata: although hem is tapered, hem allowance is not shaped to match. No fly shield for fly front zip. Front belt loop too long.
Fabric: 138cm wide Stretch Denim – Super Black from The Fabric Godmother. 97% cotton, 3% elastane.
Other materials: 100% cotton men’s shirt from op shop for pocket lining. 30/3 spun poly thread for topstitching, from M Recht Accessories. 18cm jeans zip, from Spotlight. Vilene bias tape, to stabilise pocket openings.
Mods: Size 16 +5mm waist, 18 – 0.25cm hips.
– Added 5cm length at shorter version cut line
– Altered method of sewing fly front based on this Grainline tutorial. Did this by making CF seam allowance 1/2″ and removing fly extension. Drafted separate fly extension based on pattern and fly shield, fly extension length + 6mm, finished width + 5mm, doubled.
– Added back patch pocket from Style Arc Georgie Jean
– Made back yoke 2 pieces for easier sewing
– Added traditional jean details such as topstitching
– Took in side seam waistband 6mm, tapering to nothing just above pocket bag end. Took in CB waistband 5-6mm, tapering to nothing a few cms below waist seamline.


*I’m sure I’ll eat my words on this one.

Author: Siobhan S

30 something, living in country Australia. Spoonie profile: ME/CFS, dysautonomia, anxiety. All about sewing, knitting and food. Unapologetic disability advocate.

14 thoughts on “Cats wearing bowties! Now that I’ve got your attention…”

  1. These are lovely. That skirt really hangs nicely, and I like that it can be smart or casual and will work with a lot of shoes (always a point of interest for me). The cats in bowties are just adorable! I’d have made a zipper pouch and wanted something else, but I’m not comfortable in prints. The issues you’ve raised with it aren’t obvious to a casual observer, I hope you do get plenty of use from it


    1. Thank you! I totally appreciate the fine art of matching clothing to shoes and I agree this skirt will go with a lot of shoes. The top is a very stretchy knit that would really only be good for clothing – otherwise it would have made a great pouch!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m very much at the experimental stage with my new sewing machine and am struggling to figure out which materials are for what – pouches seem to be my go-to, but I’ve made a patchwork cushion cover which I was really chuffed with, all the same type of material


  2. I hear your pain with the Frankie! I ended up redrafting the entire bodice. The sleeves, armscye, and neckline were ridiculous 🙂 and that neckline finish is just not nice. It creates a lump on the shoulder, elastane or not. I’ve decided Tessuti patterns are just weird!


    1. Oh, thank goodness someone else had problems! I wrote about the weird armscye too but decided the post was too wordy and cut it out. It was so different to the Ottobre pattern I compared it too!


  3. You look so tired. I’m glad to hear you are pulling through. If I ever travel from Edmonton Alberta Canada to your corner of Australia I will pop by and give you a giant hug. I agree about the T shirt. What weird facing and elastic ideas. I also prefer a T that looks the same in the front and the back. The skirt is gorgeous on you. Way to go. Flys terrify me. I follow your blog religiously and if you do more flys with tips and tricks I might eventually attempt one. HAHA!!! I LOVE the fading in the denim. It makes it look so store bought, way less home made look. I hope you wear it to death! The skirt. Not you.


    1. Ah, I’ve got just the tutorial for you!
      This is how I conquered fly front zips, it’s super easy to do. Of course I sewed plenty of samples into scrap fabric before working on my the garment itself. My other tip is to sew the fly front zip before you sew the garment together at the side seams, that way you are essentially working on a flat piece of fabric and it’s much easier than trying to wrangle a tube.
      Hugs and holiday-makers are welcome any time!


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