This is a fun funky snake made of sleeves from recycled wool sweaters. It can be whatever length you want, this one was about 5 ft. It was a xmas gift for a 2 1/2 year old, and he loves it--plays with it, sleeps with it, uses it as a pillow... It doesn't take that long to make, and some really basic sewing skills, for a cool, handmade looking result.
Step 1: Collect Your Raw Materials
For this project you'll need multiple old sweaters. Preferably 100% wool, dry clean only (they'll felt the best). This is the sweater haul from a local thrift store one day*. For this project I used the one with the orange stripe, and the two in the middle (green with designs and dark purple with designs). You want the sleeve of the sweaters to be approximately the same size in diameter so they meet up well. Minus a few inches for seaming and cutting off the cuffs, the number of sweaters you use will determine the length of the snake. For this one, which is under 5 feet, i used 4 full sleeves and 2 partial sleeves.
Wash all the sweaters in hot water with a little soap, and dry in the dryer (since different sweaters shrink at different rates, check on them while still damp and if any are shrinking more significantly that the others, take out and stretch out, then air dry). They don't have to felt perfectly for this project, since you'll be stiching them up, but it will help if they felt nicely.
You'll also need:
Thread or embroidery floss
Something to stitch with (your hands or I prefer a sewing machine)
2 Buttons for eyes
Tongue felt - Either use a piece of one of your sweaters (if they felt tightly) or felt square from the craft store. You'll just need a piece about 1" x 2-3"
Stuffing - recycled from old pillows or bought new. And a handful of cedar shaving will help prevent moth holes later.
(*the other sweaters have been used for other projects, see [http://http://dabbled.blogspot.com/search/label/recycled%20sweaters dabbled.blogspot.com])
Step 2: Lay Out the Snake.
At this point, you'll want to cut off the arms of your sweaters. cut off the cuffs, and cut straight across from the shoulders to make a rectangular tube. Embellishment on the sleeve can either be removed or used in your design. In this case, I only wanted the orange stripe from one of the sweaters, so I removed the rest of the sleeve. But I kept the designs on the sleeves of the green sweater since they coordinated well.
Next, lay out the snake. Play around with it to get to look you want. Cut the sleeves in half to make 2 segments if that works for you (I did here with the piece that became the head and middle green segment).
The purple sweater's sleeves were wider, but since i'll be skinny-ing up the last section of the tail anyway, i didn't worry about that. And I put the other sleeve in the middle where the snake would be the fattest. (If you have a large disparity, you can always turn wrong side out and stitch up to the diameter you want, then trim the excess.)
For the head, center the sweater seam on the bottom, then, round out the head by cutting off two triangles.
Step 3: Sew Up the Face and Add the Tongue.
You'll need something for the tongue. If your sweaters felted well, just snip out a piece from the body of one. Luckily, my pink/yellow/orange sweater worked perfectly for a pink tongue. If you don't have anything, a piece of felt in whatever color you like will work.
So, cut out a tougue. You see the shape below, you can make it longer if you like.
Turn the head inside out, fold back the mouth, and place the tongue facing INWARD. Sew the mouth back together with the tongue in place. when you turn it right side out, the tongue will stick out nicely.
Step 4: Now to Sew the Body Together...
For this project, I decided to go with the homemade look and let the seaming show (if you want to go more finished, just reverse these instructions so your seams are on the inside.)
Turn the head right side out.
Turn the next section (A) wrong side out.
Slide section A into the head, and line up the edges.
Line up the sweater seam.
Pin a couple of inches up to hold in place.
I machine stitched the pieces together, but you can hand stitch if you prefer.
Stitch together around the circumference of the sleeves about 3/4 of an inch from the raw ends.
When you pull out Section A, you'll have two sections stitched together, right side out, with the seam showing.
Continue with the remaining sections, until you reach the final "tail" section.
Trim up any spare threads.
Now to make the tail!
Step 5: Sew the Tail
Turn the tail section wrong side out.
Center the seam of the sleeve on the top, so it bisects the sleeve. In this case, I used the wide portion of the sleeve to make the point of the tail, but if necessary, you can take down the width of the entire section to fit your previous piece.
It's kind of hard to see the stitching on this picture, but basically, pick point "A" in the center of your sleeve. then pick a point close to the top of your sleeve (where it connects with the body) to finish the triangle ("B"). Sew from Point B to Point A, then back to Point B. You'll want to curve it out a little bit for a more organic look.
Trim the excess, and turn the tail rightside out again. Should look nice and pointy!
Step 6: Partially Attach the Tail, and Stuff It!
Now you have all the pieces, just need to stuff it!
Because I'm lazy with handsewing, I followed the step 4 instructions to attach the tail, but only went about 2/3 of the way around.
Turning the tail piece rightside out, I now have a totally unstuffed snake, with a small hole.
For stuffing, I recommend using whatever type of stuffing you want, but do add some cedar shavings if you want to ensure no moth attacks. Stuff the snake, but not too tightly for a nicely floppy cuddly snake. When it's stuffed evenly, handstitch up the hole.
Step 7: The Eyes
The only other embellishment required is the eyes. I chose two buttons, but if you're giving this to a child under two, you might want to just use embroidery thread to stich on some eyes, as buttons can be a choking hazard. You can also buy sew on eyes, but i like to look of plain buttons.
I sewed these on using lime green embroidery thread.
You'll get different looks depending on the placement of the buttons.
Step 8: Cuddle!
Your snake is now ready for cuddling and loving on. Enjoy! This pattern offers a ton of possibilities, so if you create this, I'd love to see what you did!