When I got into sewing almost three years ago, one of the first patterns I decided to make was of my cat He is the epitome of an adorable fat lump, so I was eager to make him into a stuffed animal. He has that infuriating quality that some cats have — he is so adorable that all you want to do is rub him on your face, but he is so ornery that so much as glancing at him lovingly will make him irate. I thought if I made a plush version of him, then I would have something to cuddle with that wouldn’t result in bleeding.
When I adopted my cat, he was already named Buster. As I came to know him better, however, I found that ‘Grump Nugget’ was a much more suitable name for him. I have about 20 other nicknames that I refer to him as including Fluffmonster (hence where the name fluffmonger originated), Fartbug, Fatbird, and Mr. Meepasaurus; but I felt that Grump Nugget was the best choice for truly conveying his personality.
As I started drafting patterns for Grump Nugget, I also started on a children’s book to go along with his character. I was having a difficult time capturing the essence of my cat’s dumpiness in plush form. So on the days sewing wasn’t going well, I worked on the children’s book. The story ended up being about a cat that is dropped off at the animal shelter, but no one wants to adopt him because he is so grumpy.
I spent a few weeks working on the story and asked my mother-in-law to read over it. Around the time I had finished revising the draft, she sent me a Grumpy Cat meme and said, “Hey, have you seen this?” Unfortunately, I hadn’t. I want to say that my initial reaction was, “Ermahgerd, look at that adorable little grump,” but instead it was my heart sinking. I was so disappointed that I had poured my heart into making a grumpy cat character when there apparently already was THE Grumpy Cat. I didn’t want my book to be viewed as unoriginal, so I kind of tucked Grump Nugget away along with sewing and let over half a year go by before touching my sewing machine again.
As the holiday season came, I took up sewing again long enough to make a few gifts for family and friends, but then I let another six months go by without sewing. Sometime in the summer of 2014, I decided to finally rework my original Grump Nugget pattern and make a Christmas cat.
By that time I had made a few other animals and had forgotten how nearly impossible it was to capture the likeness of my disgruntled ferret-cat in stuffed animal form. It’s a lot more difficult than you might think to make a stuffed cat that doesn’t end up either looking creepy or like a bear. I kept getting so frustrated with it not turning out how I wanted that I would put it away for a few months at a time, give it another shot, get frustrated, then move on to something else. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I went through almost two dozen cat prototypes before settling on one. (The pile of stuffed cats pictured were the only ones left that I hadn’t harvested the stuffing out of to reuse.) Some of the other prototypes were painfully awful. If you missed the most comical of all the failed prototypes, you can check it out here.
After making the final Grump Nugget with organic fabrics that I hand dyed, I’m happy to say that I am finally satisfied with how he turned out. He sits like a fat dump just like my cat, and he looks up at you with sad little eyes. I may go back to some of the other Grump Nugget prototypes and rework them at some point. As for the children’s book, I’m still undecided on what to do with it.