If you are like me, the most unforgettable image of your childhood was the innards of a tauntaun spilling out onto the icy ground as Han Solo created a makeshift shelter for his buddy Luke to survive the frigid Hoth night. Also if you are like me, your head nearly exploded when you received your thinkgeek.com April 1st email catalog, tried to order their new tauntaun sleeping bag, and found out it was a cruel joke taking advantage of our collective need for Star Wars merchandise. Due to the demand, they did eventually start producing those sleeping bags, which you can purchase here for around $100.
While I thank ThinkGeek for their idea(I can't believe I didn't think of this first), I decided to make my own because I found a flaw in their design: Their sleeping bags are for indoor use only(you could not actually survive a night on hoth!) thus defeating the purpose of having a trusty tauntaun in the first place.
Therefore I have created(with a lot of help from Mrs. ihrtglfx10) my own version of the sleeping bag using an old Trekk bag that is rated for -20 C so this model can actually be used for camping trips spent in frozen wastelands. It is being given as a Christmas present to the next generation of geek, my nephew, to help him survive winter in the Colorado rockies.
Please message me if anything isn't clear or you need advice/tips/hints with your own tauntaun.
Step 1: Materials and Required Skills
This is a bit of a creative project so the exact design and materials are up to you but this is the list of materials I used:
- old sleeping bag
-gray fleece for the outer layer, legs, head, and tail (get this as close to tauntaun fur as possible)
-pink flannel for the inner layer (soft as possible)
-faux suede fabric for the saddle (got to ride in style)
-scrap black fabric for the detailing
-small amount of tan fabric for the horns
-paper for the patterns
-your wife's sewing machine and scissors, pins, etc.
-black and gray thread
-a patient wife
Total cost (not including wife): $45, less than half of the cost of the official version for sale.
Total time: around 3-4 hours of continuous work
As for sewing skills, this is the first time I have ever used a sewing machine so most of the fine detailing was done by the missus, but since the sleeping bag is already put together, a lot of the sewing was simple, straight lines. Just be aware that some skills are required, not a beginner project.
*WARNING* Wives will not sew geeky sleeping bags for free. This project will most likely cost you a few foot rubs and movie tickets to the latest teenage vampire film. It helps to clearly establish payment before starting this project.
Step 2: Plan Your Attack
Like any good supporter of the Rebellion, you need a well formed plan before proceeding with this project. Many Bothan spies died bringing us this information.
Using paper, make patterns for all of the details that will be added. I drew these up free hand using the photos from ThinkGeek and estimating the measurements. The design part is the most fun, so make it personal and have a good time doing it.
From these patterns, cut out the fabric for all those parts to make sure you still have fabric to cover the outside of the bag. We decided to make all of these parts and stuff them before working on the main bag.
Step 3: Fleece Details
Pin the fleece to the bag like it will be when you sew it on. Except don't sew it. Pin all the body parts except the head and the tail how you want them, and then sew them onto the fleece
Esthetically this is an important step. So don't screw it up.
For the arm and leg, leave one seam open so you can stuff them before fully attaching them.
Make sure all the detail on the fleece has been added before moving on, there is no going back.
Step 4: Give the Old Bag a Facelift
Covering the bag was the easiest as far as the sewing was concerned.
Secure the flannel to the inside first and only sew the long edges with zippers, not the top and bottom. To keep the inside bag from shifting around too much, we stitched lines across the bag in several places, securing it to the flannel.
The next step is to cover the outside with the fleece which has previously been adorned with body parts. Again, only sew along the long zippered edges and this will be different than the flannel. In order to get the best coverage, make sure there is a 1/4" overlap over the zipper. This will fully cover the surface and still allow the zipper to operate. It also makes it insanely easier to sew.
Now you can sew the bottom together, like the sides, creating enough room for the zipper.
Finally you can sew the top together and attach the already complete tauntaun head. Fold the flannel into the fleece, note the same overlap in the picture. I didn't find it necessary to attach either layer to the bag underneath at this point. Just make sure the head looks good when you put it on. Then sew on the tail, however is easiest for you.
Step 5: Test Comfyness of the Carcass
If you have correctly assembled your new sleeping bag, you should be ready to enjoy it at this point. At this step you will notice how important it is for you to choose the correct fabrics back in step 1, it should mimic the softness of real tauntaun fur without any of the smell or ice fleas.
Step 6: Package Tauntaun for Export
This project is being shipped to a colder location where it will be of more use so a convenient and neat package is required. If you are planning to travel with yours, I find this works much better than strapping it to your roof rack. Modify the original stuff sack (see picture) to accommodate your new sleeping bag.