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Machine Sewing: What Are Your Thoughts?

Discussion in 'Puppet Building and Performing' started by D'Snowth, Oct 30, 2017.

  1. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    For as long as I can remember studying puppetry for almost fifteen years, machine sewing was always a big no-no, everything had to be hand-sewn for a variety of different reasons: better control of stitching, better attention to detail, better at hiding seams, among other things. I even remember way back when, Rick Lyon blasted machine-sewing as a clear-cut sign of poor and cheap puppet building.

    Now, as I've said many times before, building and fabricated was always one of my biggest weaknesses as far as puppetry goes, and although I've improved somewhat over the years, one thing I've always avoided all these years was machine sewing: I alway sewed by hand, utilizing various different sewing techniques from the Henson Stitch, to the whip stitch, to the ladder stitch, to the baseball stitch, to even "inventing" my own technique that sort of combines the baseball and Henson stitches, as you can see here (sorry for having my camera's exposure set too high):

    However, I seen that in recent years, machine sewing has actually become more and more common and is even considered acceptable in puppet building - even Rick Lyon, who used to be a staunch opponent of machine sewing, uses sewing machines these days. I see some builders, such as Adam Kreutinger, specifically say heads should still be hand-sewn, but everything else (torso, arms, other appendages) are okay to machine sew.

    Personally, I'm thrown off by this shift in mindset, because for years of being told to avoid machine sewing because it looks cheap, unprofessional, and poor, is now okay because it's quick, effective, and less time consuming . . . but again, it was always said that it's better to hand sew to ensure seam appearances are as minimal as possible, and that machine sewing wasn't as effective for that. Do any of you hear utilize machine sewing at all for your puppets, or do you continue to sew everything by hand? What are you thoughts on this?
  2. Froggy Fool

    Froggy Fool Well-Known Member

    I always machine sew everything EXCEPT the face, which in my opinion is the most important part of the puppet and I usually use the whip-stitch and the Henson stitch. I have also used your method on occasion, however, I guess I did it wrong or something because it came out very bunched up. But mostly it's because I became familiar with the Henson stitch before I learned your stitch.
  3. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Playing around with it myself until I got it to way I got it now, I've found that two things that causes the bunching is if you pull and tug on the thread too hard as you're sewing, and if you sew too close to the edges of the fabric.
    Froggy Fool likes this.
  4. Froggy Fool

    Froggy Fool Well-Known Member

    The place that I've found is generally the hardest to hand sew is hands, that's why I machine sew everything on the hand/arm except the opening where the arm rod goes. I sew that part up after I put the arm rod in.
  5. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Hands are tough, especially fingers, because they're really small, and really curved, which makes it very challenging to stay in control of the stitching if you're hand sewing.
    Froggy Fool likes this.
  6. JeffJackson

    JeffJackson Member

    I hand sew everything but Only because I can't use a Sewing machine.. I tried a long time ago and wasted some fabric and had the stitches coming loose and then when I tried again a while later I couldn't even remember how to run the thread. I'm just holding out to move back home so I can ask my granny how to use a sewing machine and get some hands on help. I have no problem 3d designing and printing things though so I don't know lol.

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