SEWING DIY: Oversized Tuxedo Cat Head Tote Bag

I'm a confirmed cat lady who needed a bag in the head shape of my tuxedo cat Sophie. An oversized tote bag is great for carrying a lot of stuff, especially for traveling or work. This bag is designed to be quirky cute and functional. Inside are 6 large pockets, 3 on each side, that are great for your phone, wallet, sunglasses, makeup, keys, small tools, drawing supplies, paint brushes, crochet hooks, knitting needles, and any other small things you don't want to get lost. I used white stitching inside, so the pockets are easily found on the dark black lining. The main compartment is great for planners, sketchbooks, files, paint bottles, yarn, water bottle, lunch, small kittens, and any other items that will fit in the bag. This bag is completely customizable to your cat's coloration, and your bag size preference. I made my tote bag jumbo, but you could size this down to a crossbody, regular tote, or handbag.

Fairfield World provided me with their products for this project. They paid me to create this project. The tutorial, all opinions and photos are my own.


1) I draft big patterns on the white backside of wrapping paper. I started by measuring the Stiffen width, which is 20". Using a ruler, I drafted a square 20" by 20". Cut the square out. Fold it in half twice, to find the center lines and point. Open the square. Draw half of a cat head. I found drawing the eye, nose and mouth placement helped to determine the best head shape. Cut along the half cat outline until you get to the center vertical line, and cut up/down that line to remove excess paper. Fold the head along that vertical line. Trace the half cat head onto the remaining paper. Cut out the rest of the cat head outline. This method makes for a symmetrical head, and is a method I picked up somewhere along my art education.

Now making the face parts is a little tricky. I mentioned before that I had drawn the cat face on while determining the cat head shape. I measured those drawings...eyes, inner ears and nose. I transferred those measurements to another piece of wrapping paper, using a ruler to help make the nose and ear pieces straight. For the chin, I traced the chin of the cat head onto more paper. I measured from the bottom to my drawing top, replicating those shapes and measurements onto the chin pattern. If your cat has other markings like spots and stripes, this is the time to make pattern pieces for those markings. My cat has a white chin and nose stripe, which is why I made those pieces. For the eye, I made three layers...white, iris, and pupil. Details like eyebrows and whiskers will be added with stitching. There are a couple pattern pieces not shown, that I made after this photo. Draft a handle pattern, 5" wide by 18" long. Use the head shape on another sheet of paper to draft the pocket patterns.

2) Pin your pattern pieces to the coordinating OlyFun colors.

  • Jet Black
    • 4 Heads
    • 2 Pupils
    • 2 Pockets
    • 2 Handles
  • Snow White
    • 2 Ears
    • 1 Chin
    • 2 Eyes
  • Lemon Drop
    • 2 Iris

3) Set 3 black head layers aside. The face only goes on the top layer. Load the sewing  machine with white thread. Pin the white eye and yellow iris layers in place for each eye. Sew around the eye, catching all layers. I kept my face detail sewing, about 1/8" from the edge. Pin the inner ear, chin and nose pieces in place. For the nose, I use OlyFun for the upper long triangle, and just white thread for the lower nose triangle, since Sophie's actual nose is black. Sew around those shapes with white. With black thread, sew the pupil layers onto the eyes. If your cat is a different color, use the OlyFun and thread colors that match the cat.

4) Using white chalk, draw the whiskers and eyebrows. Use a ruler for symmetrical lines. Load the sewing machine with white thread. Sew the whiskers and eyebrows. Trim all excess threads. Set the head aside while we work on the bag inner layers.

5) For some reason, I forgot to photograph the pockets, so you'll have to just look at this photo from another step! Keep the sewing machine loaded with white thread. Fold the top of one pocket in 1/4". Top stitch that fold in place. Repeat with the other pocket. On one black head piece, line up a pocket piece, with the fold edge facing the head piece. Pin the layers together. With a ruler and chalk, mark out an 8" wide center pocket. Draw vertical chalk lines for the pocket stitching. Repeat this layering, pinning and marking for the other pocket and another head piece. At the sewing machine, stitching along the pocket bottom, 1/4" from the edge. Stitch along the chalk guides. Keep pins in the left and right pocket sides, as those will be secured in another step.

6) On the Stiffen, trace the cat head pattern twice. Cut out the heads, about 1/4" smaller than the traced pattern.

7) Pin the Stiffen heads to the back of the pocket heads. With black thread, at the sewing machine, sew the layers together. Make sure to keep the pockets smooth, so they don't ripple when sewing. Repeat for other set too.

8) Stitch above and below the pockets, the secure the Stiffen to the OlyFun more. Repeat for other set too.

9) Cut a 4" piece of hook and loop tape. Separate the pieces. Center one piece 1" down from the cat head center layer top. Sew in place. Repeat with other piece and cat head center layer top.

10) Cut two strips of Stiffen 2" wide by 18" long. Fold a black OlyFun handle pieces around a Stiffen strip, folding in the long raw edge. Repeat for other Stiffen and OlyFun handle pieces. Pin in place. Sew folds in place with black thread. The Stiffen makes the handle stronger and keep its shape.

11) Pair up the cat head front with an inner layer, and the cat head back with an inner layer. Sew along the cat head top, about 1" down from on ear to 1" from the other ear, in a curve. Repeat for other layers. This makes the bag opening secure. Insert a handle end in between the ear layers, lining up the handle edge with the outer ear edge. Straight pin in place. Stitch around the ear twice (1/4" & 1/2"), to secure the handle. For the cat face layer, I stitched beside the white inner ear, to hide that 1/2" stitch line.

12) Carefully line up the inner layers, hook and loop tape together. Pin around the head. Stitch around the cat head, stopping under the ears. Trim any uneven edges so the layers are even.

Sophie was a great monitor of my bag making progress.

If a bag isn't your thing, perhaps adapt this tutorial for a wall hanging. You'll just need a front and back piece, with a center Stiffen piece, plus a center top hanging loop, for a wall hanging. You could also sew the cat head onto an existing big pillow, or make your own pillow with fabric and Poly-Fil. If your machine sewing skills aren't strong, use fabric paint or glue to add the face details. You can always hand sew this bag, but machine sewing will be the strongest and fastest stitch. Whatever you are making, have fun with it. Happy Makery!


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