Intro: Sandworm Body Pillow
On Saturday I woke up to find, bouncing around in my head, the idea that a sandworm body pillow would be funny. (Based on Lynch's vision of Dune, of course.) I posted about it, as one does with throw-away ideas. That would have been that, except it quickly became one of my most RT'd tweets ever. The message was clear: the internet wanted me to actually made one. I am not one to argue with portents such as that, so I set to work.
Step 1: Fabric and Pattern
Let me say something very important up front: I know very little about sewing. I don't tend to do so well with squishy materials -- I don't even really like woodworking! However, I have watched every episode of Project Runway. Combined with an unshakable belief that there is no craft I can't muddle through, that turned out to be enough for this project.
First stop was to get the fabric. I knew I wanted 3 prints: one for the main body, one for the outer mouth area, and one for the inner mouth and gullet. I wanted the main body to give the impression of giant, dark scales, the inner mouth to feel like rings of lighter colored teeth, and the outer mouth something that would visually bridge the other two. After 20 minutes of wandering around the fabric store muttering to myself, I ended up with a selection I was happy with. I got 2 yards for the main body, and half a yard each of the other two.
When I got home, I measured some other body pillows around the house for comparison. I decided I wanted a diameter of about 8 inches, and a length of as close to 2 yards as I could get. The overall shape would be simple: a long tube, made up of 3 pieces. (Labelled "A" in the diagram.) These had a single jaw "petal" at one end, and a gradual taper at the other end for the tail. Inside the jaw section was a matching bit, B, in the outer mouth fabric, slightly smaller to give an arc when stuffed. Inside this was the inner mouth jaw, again in two pieces C and D. The inner part of the inner jaw, D, had an extension to form a throat.
Feel free to print out my pattern if you have a large format printer that can handle it, but it's not that hard to draft from scratch. To make the curved parts of the jaws for the pattern, I measured out the width and half the height on a piece of paper, sketched the curve in freehand, then folded the paper over and cut it out. I then used these templates to trace the shapes in pencil on the backside of the fabric before cutting. For the pieces with straight edges, I drew those directly on the fabric with a ruler.
Step 2: Sewing
I basically worked from the inside out. I don't know if this was the best way to do it, but the results were okay. The topology here is a bit confusing, so always make sure you know which side of the fabric should be where.
First I sewed the curved bits of C to D, right side together. This formed the 3 inner jaws. D is narrower than C, so make sure when you pin them to get the edges to match on both sides. C will bulge out some, leaving a bit of a pocket.
Invert the inner jaw pieces, and sew them to B along the matching flat side of C. There is a width difference here, so make sure they are well centered. Again, this will be right side together.
Flip the combined B-C-D pieces back inside out, and sew them together along the flat sides of D into a single triangular unit.
We can't put off dealing with the long A pieces any long, so fabric management gets trickier from here on out. Sew the curved sides of B to A, right side together. These also have a width difference, to create another slight pocket.
After this is done, there will be 3 gaps where the outer and inner jaws meet, because B is wider than C. Sew those up. Take your time to make sure everything is lined up, as these joints will be very visible in the final product.
All that remains to be done is sew the lengths of the A pieces to each other. Leave a gap towards the end of the last seam so the batting can be added. Invert the whole thing, and get stuffing! One 32 ounce bag worked perfectly for me. Try to get just enough batting into the jaws to give them shape without making them unduly thick. Sew the stuffing gap together, keeping the fabric folded over to minimize ugliness.
Optionally, you can add a length of elastic to the tip of the throat running back towards the tail. The friction against the batting prevented it from pulling the mouths shut, as I was aiming for, but at least it keeps the back of the throat from being pushed forward. If you used a slicker material, or added some kind of low friction sheath, I think you could use it to pull the mouths shut like I was hoping. Ideally this would allow for some amount of puppetry.
Another option would be to sew pleats into the length of the body, to give the impression of segments of the worm. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get them to line up properly, and I didn't want to sacrifice any length. But someone with more skill (and more fabric) than I could probably make it work!
Bless the Sleeper and His dreaming
Bless the snoring and snoozing of Him
May His napping cleanse the world
While I failed to make the mouths quite as adjustable as I had hoped, this ended up a very enjoyable weekend project. It works great as a body pillow, and the throat pocket provides a convenient place for hiding things like signet rings. Even if you have as little sewing experience as I do, you too can have your own cuddly little Shai-Hulud. Wake up every morning and proudly declare, "Father, the sleeper has awakened!"