The Carmen Kitty dress

I have been planning to make this dress for months (and I promised Tiger Lily I would make it for her), but of course I wasn't putting the finishing touches on it until a few hours before our first Halloween event.

First, to explain what in the world Carmen Kitty is: well, I can't, really. Carmen Kitty is Tiger Lily's own creation. Several months ago, Tiger Lily started singing the Habanera from Bizet's opera Carmen. At some point, she started singing it in meows, and then she became a kitty . . . and Carmen Kitty was born.

Soon I started envisioning a Carmen Kitty dress using materials I had in my stash. I love making my children's little imaginative dreams come true.

I used the top part from this pattern for the top of the dress. I took in the sides a little, but I could have taken them in more. Luckily the ribbon around the middle takes in the extra fullness.

I used a double circle skirt on the bottom. This is the twirliest skirt ever! You can lift the sides all the way up by your head, and there will still be skirt covering your legs.

I read a lot about how circle skirts are a pain to hem, and I was too chicken to try it, so instead I cut a giant ruffle for the bottom. It was ten yards long, twice the length of the bottom of the skirt. I hemmed it first, then learned to use the ruffler from my grandma's old machine, which made short work of gathering the ruffle once I figured out how to use it. Then I sewed the ruffle to the bottom of the skirt, and I didn't have to hem it! Lazy, I know, but it worked well and turned out pretty cute.

I originally made a pink fabric sash to go around the middle of the skirt. Before I sewed it on, Tiger Lily was wearing the dress around the house, and she managed to tip a bunch of gravy all over herself. After I washed the dress and the sash, the sash came out terribly wrinkled, and I knew that I didn't want to sew it on because I'd have to iron it every time I washed it. No thank you. So I guess I'm glad Tiger Lily got into the gravy.

I found this green grosgrain ribbon in my stash that matched really well. I don't think it's as cute as the pink, but I only had a few hours left by that time. The crocheted flower at the waist is a gift from one of my friends who loves to crochet but has three boys. Sometimes she makes little girly flowers for Tiger Lily, which Tiger Lily appreciates very much.

So finally we had the Carmen dress, the ears, the nose and whiskers. The only thing remaining was a tail. I took an old black t-shirt and made a tail from it. I added some pipe cleaners along with the stuffing to give it a little more body. Then I had to figure out the buttonhole attachment on my new machine, because I was going to button it onto the middle of the back of the dress, right behind the sash.

I figured out the buttonhole attachment, but it had a really hard time with my double layer of knit fabric, with stuffing and a hem in the way. It is going to be a dream to use on regular woven fabrics, though!

So now the Carmen Kitty dress has a removable tail. Because I wasn't about to make this dress just for Halloween, it needs to be appropriate for church too, and she definitely can't wear the tail to church.

Don't mind the funny socks and leggings and the shirt underneath. We were getting ready to go out trick-or-treating, and it was cold!

This dress was made entirely from my stash, so it was free! The elastic was left over from another project; the white and green cloth came from my mother-in-law; and the ribbon was on a gift. The t-shirt was an old one of mine that tore, and the button was from a dead pair of pants.

Would you like to see Carmen Kitty sing her song?


  1. She is so adorable and I love the dress. I was wondering what Carmen Kitty was when she told me about it. I didn't know it was completely original! I love it. Great job on the costume! I'm sewing furiously today to finish ours.

  2. That's so cute, all of it! She reminds me of one of my daycare kids. Aw.

  3. I love Carmen Kitty.. the dress is adorable and so nice that you fixed a way to take the tail off, so you can use the dress for church too..[smart mama].
    She is adorable.


  4. Fabulous! Thanks for sharing.

  5. I think the ruffle fits the style of the dress perfectly. :)