Step 4: The Henson Stitch

If you want the skin of your puppet to fit the foam structure, you will have to have sew different pieces of fabric together.

When you do this, it creates seams. These seams can be hidden, however, using a stitch Jim Henson developed.

This stitch is often referred to as the Henson Stitch, Puppet Stitch, or Ladder Stitch as seen in this link by TheCreatureWorks.

This stitch works best on fabrics that are fuzzy. If you try to use this on non fuzzy fabric you will get a strange zigzag effect on the seam. Fuzzy fabric hides this.

This stitch can be used while the fabric is on or off the foam base.

For this demonstration by Tom Stewart, a thread color different than the color of the fleece is used so you can see what is being done.

1. Place the two pieces of fabric side by side, wright sides up.

2. Put a knot in the end of your thread that has been waxed using bee's wax so your thread won't tangle.

3. Push your needle through the fabric starting from the under side. Pull the thread all the way to the knot. This should be about 1/8 of an inch or less from the edge of the fabric. (if the knot comes out, make the knot bigger and try again.)

4. Take the needle and push it into the other piece of fabric from the top. Do not push the needle all the way through.

5. Catch a small amount of material on the needle, like a quilter would do, and pull the thread through. Do not pull this stitch tight.

6. Now go back across to the other piece and, starting close to the first stitch, repeat the above step.

7. Do this for 5 to 6 stitches; keeping the stitches loose.

8. Pull the stitches tight. This pulls the fabric together.

9. With the tip of the needle, gently pull out the fleece that was trapped in the seam. Be careful not to pull out your stitches.

10. Repeat this process all along the seam.

You now have a seam that is very hard to see and gives your puppet a professional look.

Is Blizzard Fleece any good for using the Jim Henson stitch?
Yes I have found that Blizzard Fleece is an acceptable substitute for Antron fleece. The pile is not as high but there is still enough to hide the stitches. I don't, however, recommend using any Anti-Pill fleece as the pile is too short.
<p>I need to change my answer to this. I got my fleece types mixed up. I use Anti-Pill fleece, not Blizzard Fleece.</p>
<p>What size puppet does this make? I looked at the Roly pattern on the site, and it didn't give any dimensions.</p>
The pattern itself is fairly small. I wear a large size glove and my hand is a tight fit in the puppet. However, the nice thing about the pattern is that you can enlarge it to fit your needs.
<p>I would like to make my grandson a lamb puppet like the one on Baby Einstein. I have never made anything so any help or suggestions would be appreciated. </p>
Reverse engineering anyone else's work by visuals alone is a daunting task. Especially if you've never before built a puppet. For your first puppet, I would recommend a glorified sock puppet from project puppet<br>That said, here's what I can glean from the images I've seen.<br>The Puppet is made from at least two different material types and a variety of colors. The main fabric is &quot;Minky Sherpa Cuddle White&quot; wich will run you about $12 - $13 per yard. The other fabrics will be a dark tan anti-pill fleece and some felt for the eyes. I can also tell you that the puppet gets its structure and shape from the pattern, or how the fabric is cut, as opposed to a foam base.<br>I can also see that the puppet was sewn by machine.<br>Good luck in your puppet making adventures!<br>
<p>Any thoughts on paper mache over foam? I see the guys over at <a href="http://puppet.farm" rel="nofollow">http://puppet.farm</a> go that route and it seems more cost-effective.. Plus you can use more recycled goods. Also, what about using third-party services such as <a href="http://mascotsandpuppets.com" rel="nofollow">http://mascotsandpuppets.com</a> - they have REALLY good build quality! Is anyone offering a more &quot;bare bones&quot; solution so you have a quickstart?</p>
Well, the difference between paper mache and foam is flexibility and breathability. If you want a non-flexible puppet then use paper mache. As to cost, speaker foam only costs about $21 for a 21&quot;x18&quot;x1/2&quot; sheet at Wal-Mart. It's also lightweight and makes the perfect foundation for Muppet style puppets.<br><br>In regards to having someone building your puppet for you, custom puppets are very expensive. Depending on construction they can cost upwards of $1000.00.<br><br>To my knowledge, the best source for building your own Muppet style puppet is Project Puppet. <br><br>No matter what kind of puppet you build, take your time and pay attention to details. By doing so you will have a quality puppet of which you can be proud.
<p>dude, there are zillions type of foam, wich one should we use ? PU ? where to fuind some ?</p>
I like to use reticulated foam with a density of around 30-35 PPI. If your foam is being covered by fabric, speaker foam works well and is cheaper.
<p>I made a Fizzgig inspired puppet this weekend and your foam mouth pallet method was a big help. Much nicer fit than cardboard and should be more durable, like you said. Thanks for all the great info!</p>
<p>After playing around with the Anti-Pill fleece, I have been able to hide the seams even when they have been Machine sewn. </p>
<p>I was asked what color fleece this puppet used. After much research I can safely say Croissant.</p>
<p>i will try this</p>
<p>this is cool</p>
<p>Thanks for posting my video tutorial! Love to see it is helping people and the positive feedback it generated. Thanks again and keep building :-)<br>Tom</p>
<p>There aren't many quality video's on the Henson stitch. Thanks for putting in the effort. It helps so much!</p>
I still don't know how to make a puppet
Start with a pattern from project puppet. This 'ible is designed to give tips and tricks. Because this pattern is from Project Puppet, I can't show the full pattern.
Omg I love this love love love love love it
Thank you!
Thank-you for showing how to make the Henson stitch! Now the puppets that I make can look like the real-deal! It's so much easer to do that I thought it would be....
The key to the whole thing is to use waxed thread and small stitches. Antron Fleece is best for hiding those stitches. A close second is Polar Fleece.
I will keep that in mind... thank-you again. :)
Do you have ANY idea how long I've been looking for a decent 'ible for making custom puppets? Excellent 'ible! It answers all the questions I've had!
What a cool 'ible! Good job!

About This Instructable




More by TheLlama:How to Build a Quality Puppet 
Add instructable to: