How To Make A Python Puppet, Part 2: Sewing
Now we begin to sew. We used a machine, but it’s not absolutely necessary. If you don’t know how to sew, it’s not hard to learn. If you have access to a machine and a mature individual to teach you, politely insist on lessons. We aren’t going to teach you to sew here for two reasons, 1) it’s beyond the scope of this tutorial; 2) we don’t actually know what we’re doing. If you don’t have access to a machine, you can still make this puppet by hand. It will take a little longer but you’ll grow so much during the process. If you’re just joining us, you’ll want to check out the previous post on Tracing and Cutting the Material.
1. We’ll start by sewing the Chest. It’s not particularly difficult to sew and you don’t have to be precise so it’s a good place to stretch your sewing muscles. This is where you’re going to need your measuring tape.
2. Our goal in sewing the chest is to achieve that snaky, ribbed look. We’re going to do this by folding and sewing the chest piece repeatedly. We used 1.5” as our standard folding measurement. So, as in the photograph, fold the top portion of your chest piece over 1.5”. You don’t have to be exact.
3. Now pin it down. We don’t want that unruly fleece moving about on us while we’re sewing.
4. Sew along the fold, with or without a machine.
5. Now fold the chest piece again, measuring approximately 1.5” from the seam you just sewed.
6. Pin it down like frog in a lab(sorry, Kermit). And sew.
7. Magnetic pin holders are awesome.
8. Do it again. Measure 1.5” from the last seam, pin, then sew. Repeat.
9. You should find yourself looking at something like this.
10. Now for the head. If your fleece is more textured on one side be sure to sandwich the two textures together. Mmm, fleece sandwich. Just like Mom used to make.
11. Pin it together. This is very important. You don’t want it to slip around on you while you’re sewing otherwise your puppets head will be lumpy and lopsided. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
12. Ready to sew. But it’s important to point at the pieces with both fingers before proceeding. I’m serious.
13. Okay? Okay! Now we’re going to sew the chest to the back thus completing the body.
14. Pin one side.
15. The body isn’t going to lie flat as the back piece is slightly larger than the chest piece. Fold it over enough so that your remaining edges line up.
16. Then pin them together.
17. And run it through the sewing machine.
18. Now onto the mouth. This part can be a bit tricky, but I know you can do it.
19. The mouth pattern is a footballish ovoid. Spread the mouth opening of the head open. Then take one of the pointy ends of the football and match it up with the center, top seam of the head, or the upper lip and nose. Put one or two pins in to hold this.
20. Now for a tooth. We measured our tooth placement 1.5” from the corner of the mouth. But where you want your teeth is up to you. Insert one of your tooth rectangles in between the head and the mouth fleece. Put as much of the rectangle inside the mouth as possible. This will give you more to work with when you turn your puppet right-side-out.
21. Pin the tooth in place. It’s much easier to sew if you pierce it through all three layers: head, tooth, and mouth. It’s also easier to sew if you place your pin further from the edge. This way you won’t have to pull the pin while you run the piece through your sewing machine. If you have the room, use two or more pins.
22. Continue pinning the head and mouth together. Work your way around one side of the mouth toward the center, bottom seam or lower lip.
23. You should have something like this.
24. On to the other side of the mouth. Same process as before.
25. What a beautiful flower! Let’s sew it up! Words of advice: take it slow sewing the head and the mouth together. It’s easy to get off course here and if you do your puppet will look funny and not good funny. I start at one of the pointy ends and sew around to the other pointy end, then cut the thread, reorient the piece, and sew the other side the same way. When I finish that, I run another stitch perpendicular to the center seam, across the upper and bottom lips. This is to round off the stitch and provide extra strength. This additional stitch is not necessary, but something you may want to consider if you think you’re going to use the puppet a lot. It will be much more difficult to repair in the future.
26. After stitching, your head should look something like this. Don’t worry. It will look much better once we turn it inside-out. Did you already do that?
27. If you haven’t already, turn your head inside out. The puppet head, silly.
28. Well, it looks like a sick beaver with those blocky teeth. But we’ll fix that soon enough. First we’re going to sew the head to the body.
29. With the head right-side out and the body inside-out stuff the head into the neck-hole of the body so that the head is facing the chest.
30. Then pin the head to the body, as shown, and stitch it together.
31. Once it’s sewn together you can reach inside and pull the head out of the body, inside-out.
32. Good job! The sewing is done. But don’t turn your puppet right-side-out yet. We still have more to do while it’s inside-out. That’s Part 3.
We’re going to wrap things up in the next post, Part 3: The Dangerous Stuff and the Finishing Touches