Introduction: How to Sew a Fish Cat House

About: Army Vet. I love learning & being creative. I am back!

Your cats will love this! As I began sewing it together - it's as though my cats knew I was making something for them. My cat Tommy (in the photos) loved the new home instantly! She was laying all over the material even before I began sewing things together. So the fishy cat house definitely looks crazy and a little silly - but that's what is great about it! You can easily alter the pattern and just use it to create a house for your kitties without making it into a fish. That's up to you! The full pattern is available so you can download in the next step. The final cat house will be approximately 25 inches long by 9 1/2 inches tall and 12 inches wide.

Also, I researched these online and only found the same old strange looking fish cat houses that people have made, based off of one single pattern that's sold in stores. I didn't like how it looked and the reviews weren't so good. So, I made my own. It's not perfect but I like how it turned out. :) This project is a little tough to sew when you get to the end - and you have to maneuver this big thing around your sewing machine. But if you're up for it - let's get started!

I couldn't figure out what to call this!!! A cat-eating fish house - a fish-eating cat house - I'm so confused! :) lol... So I stuck with a Fish Cat House!

Step 1: Requirements for Fish Cat House

When I made my fish cat house, for the outter material I used some thick fabric I previously purchased as a remnant. For the fins I used a different material, also thick, and I got those as discontinued material at the store - super cheap. If you have extra fabric around - this may be a good project to use it on. For the outter material, be sure to use something that is thick or more stable - upholstery fabric, denim or broadcloth are fine. For the inside lining material it's a good idea to use something soft like fleece.

  • Thick fabric for the outside of the house (1 to 1 1/4 yards to be safe)
  • Fleece or other soft material for the inside of the house
  • About a yard of thick fusible interfacing/stabilizer (I used Pellon 72F Double-Sided Fusible Ultra Firm Stabilizer)
  • 1/2 inch thick foam (one yard)
  • Sewing Machine
  • Iron and other Sewing Supplies
  • Fabric Glue (adhesive for the eyes and brows - but you can always sew it on)
  • You can download the pattern pieces in the next step. You can either download a .pdf pattern file (which includes all the pattern pieces in the single .pdf file) - or all the pieces have also been uploaded separately as .jpgs. If you print the .jpg pattern pieces, then when you go to print them, hit print and in the settings be sure to leave the size as it is (don't stretch to fit page). If you want to print the .pdf which contains all the pattern pieces on it, then just go to File and print it out. The choice is yours!
  • After printing the pattern, you'll see that some pieces had to be cut into 2 parts or more - just piece them back together and tape them.

Step 2: Free Pattern for Fish Cat House & Tips

Now it's time to cut out all the fabric and necessary extras. I wrote on the pattern pieces what you need to cut out - but I will also explain it here. Be careful before you cut - as many pieces will require you to fold the fabric and then cut. If you prefer to not do it that way, you can trace the pattern to create a full piece.
  • For the bottom panel
    • Cut one piece for outside material
    • Cut one piece for inside (soft lining)
    • Cut one piece of 1/2 inch foam
      • after cutting out the foam according to the pattern piece for the bottom panel, you'll then need to go back and cut approximately 1 inch off of it all around
      • the purpose of trimming it is so you'll be able to sew that bottom panel to the other pieces without needing to sew through foam
  • Front Piece for Fish Face
    • Cut one piece for outside material
    • Cut one piece for inside (soft lining)
    • *You will later cut out the area of the front face pattern that has the mouth shape on it - you don't need to worry about that until later on when you need to sew all the details on the face.
  • Top Pattern Piece
    • Cut one piece for outside material
    • Cut one piece for inside (soft lining)
    • Cut one piece of your thick fusible interfacing/stabilizer
      • After cutting it out in the shape of the pattern piece, please go back and trim about one inch off of it all the way around - leaving the shape as it was.
      • This is necessary so you can sew the pieces together without breaking your sewing machine needles - as this stabilizer is very thick and rough.
  • Side Body Pieces - Left Side
    • Cut one piece for outside material
    • Cut one piece for inside (soft lining)
    • Cut one piece of your thick fusible interfacing/stabilizer
      • Trim off one inch of the piece of stabilizer - just as you did for the previous pattern piece.
  • Side Body Pieces - Right Side
    • Cut one piece for outside material
    • Cut one piece for inside (soft lining)
    • Cut one piece of your thick fusible interfacing/stabilizer
      • Trim off one inch of the piece of stabilizer - just as you did for the previous pattern piece.
  • Long Top Fin for Top of Body
    • Cut two pieces using a different color than the main body preferably
  • Back Fin
    • Cut two pieces using a different color than the main body
  • Side Fins
    • Cut four pieces
  • Eyes & Brows
    • If you want to make your fish eyes similar to mine, then cut out the pattern pieces
    • Then cut out the brow pattern
    • Use some scrap fabric for these - anything will work but I think felt would be great

Step 3: Iron on the Stabalizer & Prepare Foam

Once all of your pattern pieces are cut out, you can then set most of those pieces aside. Now it's a good idea to prepare the three pattern pieces which will require the fusible interfacing/stabilizer. Remember the stabilizer should be an inch smaller than your other pattern pieces.

The three pieces which will need the stabilizer are the: left side body piece, top piece and right side body piece. Take one of those pieces and the fabric which you cut out for it. You should have the outer fabric, the soft lining and the stabilizer. Turn on your iron and make sure it's nice and steamy -add water to it if necessary. Now prepare the fabric by sandwiching the stabilizer in between the outer material and soft lining material. When the iron is nice and hot, you can then use it to carefully steam the stabilizer in place. You'll want to read the instructions on your stabilizer. The instructions were overly complicated on mine and I disregarded them and just used the iron and carefully held it over the material and set it onto it (without moving it along the material as I normally would have if ironing). I didn't want to burn the material. Be careful you don't either! I then flipped the whole thing over and repeated the steaming and patting of the iron to fuse the stabilizer in between the outer and inner lining. Repeat this for the other two pattern pieces.

Next, take out the pieces you cut for the main bottom piece. This pattern piece required an outer layer of material, soft inner lining and 1/2 inch foam (which should have been cut one inch smaller than the other pieces of material). Please note that I made the mistake of only making mine about 1/2 inch smaller than my material and I had a tough time sewing it in place. So 1 inch smaller is much better. Lay your outer material out on the bottom, then put the foam in the middle and lay the soft lining piece on top. Pin all these layers together along the edges.

Step 4: Sewing the First Pieces Together

Next, you'll take the foam piece you just pinned together and sew it together along the edge. I recently bought a serger and used it to sew a nice serged edge. If you want to do a zigzag stitch, that would be good. It'll make the edges look nice.

After that, you'll want to take one of the side pieces which you previously ironed fusible stabilizer into. Even though you ironed the stabilizer in, you should still put some pins through it to keep the layers aligned properly - as it can move around while sewing. The next step is to pin one of the side pieces with the soft lining side up, to the middle foam piece which also will have the soft side up. I used a serger. But, if you don't have one, you may want to do both a straight stitch and a zigzag stitch - to hold in any loose ends or to keep it from fraying. Trim off any excess afterwards.

Once done here, you should have the side pieces and main bottom foam piece sewn together - just like the photo shows. Good job!

Step 5: Sewing on the Fins

Next, it's time to sew the little fins together. Sew them wrong sides together along their edges, leaving an inch or more for an opening so you'll be able to turn it right-side out. Then turn right side out and stuff it with something - actual stuffing or scraps of material will work also. For the long fin which goes along the back of the fish - I didn't sew the bottom opening on it closed. I ended up hand-sewing it onto the back of the fish. The only way I could think of adding it onto the fish easily, would require me to modify the pattern. I'm sure there are probably more professional ways of doing this - but didn't mind hand-sewing it onto the back. I didn't want it to fall over to one side - so I sewed it on with about an inch of an opening. I'm not positive as to how this would look, but if you were to cut the top pattern piece (the main back piece) in half the long way - I think it would be easier to then sandwich this long fin in between as you sew the seam back together. I hope that makes sense. It's an option anyway. :)

I ended up doing a top stitch over the small openings for the side fins and then also hand-sewing those onto the sides of the fish. It looked totally fine. The last piece which gave me some trouble was the very back fin - like I said, if you cut the main back piece and then later sewed it together, you could also then sew this back fin in that way. I recommend doing that top stitch to close up the back fin and then setting it aside. When you sew the main back piece on, you can then sew that fin as well. I'll explain that in that step.

Step 6: Sew the Top Piece to the Rest of the House

Next, you'll need to pin the top piece to one of the side pieces - everything will be lining-side up. Start this pinning at the tail area, going towards the front of the cat house. Sew the main top piece to the side, starting an inch or so from the end tail area. Leave an inch or so unsewn near the tail area - this opening is so you will be able to get that tail fin piece into place. After sewing it to one side - then do the other side. This will complete the main body of your cat house. The main piece you have left to sew is the face.

After trimming any excess, then turn this thing right-side out. Take a look at the tail area and take your tale fin and maneuver it inside that opening you left for it. Once you like the placement, you can us your sewing machine (if your machine can go through that thick of material) or sew this on by hand. I had a hard time with this area as the material at that point is very thick - so be careful!

Step 7: Fish Face and Mouth

Now, take your little eye and eye brow pieces you cut out and your fabric glue (or you can see these on by hand). If you haven't done so yet, please use the pattern piece provided for the fish mouth and determine if you like the placement of it. Once you do, then  at that time you can trace the mouth pattern onto the fish face piece and cut it out. The first image for this step shows how and where I cut the mouth out on mine.

Next, decide where you want to place the eyes and eye brows (if you're using them) and use that fabric glue to adhere them to the outer fabric piece. Let it dry. In the meantime, you'll need to cut out two strips of fabric. I didn't create a pattern piece for this as it's simple to cut out without one.

Figure out what type of fabric you want for the fish mouth - I used some scrap fabric which was very soft and I like how the texture differed from the rest of the material used. Once strip I cut was about 18 inches long by 3 inches wide. The second strip I cut out was about 26 inches long (longer is better - to be safe - as this will be trimmed) by 3 inches wide.

Start at one corner of the fish mouth - leaving an extra 1/4 of an inch of excess material - and start pinning it to the mouth (see images). Stop pinning when you get to the other edge of the mouth. Then, sew carefully along this edge, rotating the presser foot as needed, until you get to the other edge. Once done, you can trim off the excess, leaving a quarter of an inch. Now, pin along the lower edge just as you did with the upper - but start with several inches of excess material. That material will line up with the fabric used along the top (see images as this is really hard to describe). You can actually start sewing the edge from the top of the mouth's material and then onto the bottom of the mouth, just as you did the top. To finish it off - sew the end of your bottom material with the edge from the top. Please see images for clarification.

Once this is done, you'll then pull the fabric inward and you'll be sewing this onto the seam which is already there. If there is too much puckering of the material - you may need to use your sewing machine to go along the edge of the mouth material with a long stitch to gather some material in. Just do this if there is an excess of material and you can't sew it easily to the edge of the inside of the mouth. You can add some type of stuffing or filler to the mouth to puff it out - but I didn't. If the material is too long, then feel free to trim it. I trimmed my material a little bit, then I did a zigzag stitch along the edge. Then, I gathered it a little bit and sewed it on.

After that part was done, I did a little bit of hand-sewing to clean things up. I noticed that the seam was showing a little bit in a few places, so I hand-sewed to pull some of the puffed out lip inward. See images. Once this is done - the hardest part is over! Good job!

Step 8: Sewing the Face to the Body

Now it's finally time to sew the face onto the body! With the body sewn and right-side out, take the face piece (with lining-side up) and pin it to the top of the body piece. See image. Sew a nice seam along the top. Maneuvering this large thing around your sewing machine is not easy. I had to hang my sewing machine off the edge of my table to do so.

Next, you'll need to turn the whole thing inside out. Then, pin the head piece to the side piece and do the same thing on both sides. Be careful as you get near the mouth - since the mouth area is so large you don't want to get anywhere near that when sewing the seam. Once done, you'll have only one opening left - the part where the face piece meets the bottom piece. It's kind of tough - but you'll now need to pull this whole thing right-side out. It's almost completely done!

Lastly, remember when you made the nice zigzag stitch around the bottom foam piece? Well, that edge of the foam is the last area to be sewn to the bottom edge of the fish face. For the final step, since I could not do this with the fish inside-out, I took the bottom part of the fish face and tucked it on top of the bottom edge of the foam piece. I made sure I liked exactly how it looked and pinned it in place where I wanted it. I then, with the sewing machine still hanging off the edge of my table - used the fish mouth for an opening to place onto the machine. Then, I did a top stitch with my twin needle (one needle is fine) with the foam material on top, securing the fish face to it. The seam is visible from the inside but it doesn't look bad. I then trimmed any excess material and the fish cat house was done!!!

Congratulations on making it this far and completing your cute kitty house! Let me know if you have questions or even suggestions! Thanks!

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