I finally worked up the courage to try the Simplicity 9004 pattern after considering it for ages. Pictures first! Then the (long-winded) boring stuff!
Fred the cat, chillin' like a villian, oblivious to the fish sneaking up from the rear.
Oh no! It has him!
Well, it has most of him...
And two dorky pictures, the fish attacking BB, the pit bull. And one of me, admittedly doing what I did all day whenever the bf looked at me, probably saying something like, "I've got a fish face...fish face!" Yeah, I'm cool like that.
And the boring (and way too long) stuff... I put off making this for myself for a long time because of reviews I have read about it and worry that my cat would just snub it. I finally jumped into it for a sad reason. My friend has been diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gherig's) and cannot sew anymore. She had some projects in mind for some family members and herself that she just couldn't get to before she lost the use of her hands. I offered to help by being her little sewing elf, of sorts, and to try to finish what I can before she leaves us.
Of course she picked this pattern that has been intimidating me for years. I am so glad that she did though, it gave me the push I needed, plus I made myself finish it just two nights. She has given me a huge amount of her stash, and I used fabric from that.
I would say that everything you hear about this pattern is true. The directions are vague, the foam is a real "treat" to work with, and some steps take some creative brainpower. I changed a few things...
I only used one layer of foam on the body (2 on the head, per directions). I didn't want to sew through so many layers of foam, and I thought it would stand up well enough with 1 layer, and it does. People were wondering about where to get foam, I've always bought it at joanns, but wait for a 50% off coupon or sale.
I just sewed the fabric lining together, sewed it in by hand (to avoid the exposed seam inside) and tacked in up to the fish back and sides. I made a removable bottom pad, for easier washing.
I didn't have a ping pong ball, so I just used felt for the eyes.
Fred the cat is about 18 pounds, a pretty big boy, and I think he could have fit if I gave him more time to get comfortable. As it was I just lured him in with some cat nip. I think it just depends on how comfortable your cat is with tiny openings and no other exits. I didn't give him too much time with the fish, as it is for my friend's cats and didn't want him stinking it up too much.
Sorry this is so long, if you made it this far!
I love feedback!