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The infamous Henson stitch...

Discussion in 'Puppet Building and Performing' started by erniebert1234ss, Aug 29, 2004.

  1. erniebert1234ss

    erniebert1234ss Active Member

    Do you do the stitch by hand or by machine? I'm going to try to learn to sew by hand; Does a machine work wonders in the costuming department or not? I'm basically a slave to a machine to create myself and my puppets some wonderful outfits. Does anybody know what the Henson stitch is and how to do it or am I out on a limb? Thanx in advance!

  2. Whatever

    Whatever Active Member

    I think Toastcrumbs mentioned it somewhere, you can look up his posts.
  3. Beebers

    Beebers New Member

    I had a stitch in my side recently but I'm pretty sure it wasn't the Henson stitch. Been out on some limbs lately too. Ravagefrackle might also be able to describe it to you, perchance.

  4. Puppetplanet

    Puppetplanet Member

  5. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle New Member

    RICKLY posted this on one of those threads(no pun intended)
    seems like as good a time as any to re post it,

    all i can say is that there is no one right way to stich, whip stiching and baseball stiches work great, what you really need is patients, and practice,

    you cany rush it, and expect to re-thread your needle several times ,

    any way here is that original post

    " The myth of a magical "Henson Stitch" is pretty much just that - a myth. Don't believe anyone who tells you otherwise. A good stitch for hand-sewing fleece is what is frequently referred to as a baseball stitch. It is particularly successful with fleece and fur fabrics because it creates a stitch which is sort of zig-zaggy, not hard and straight like a sewing machine will make (side note: many people who make puppets for Henson don't even USE the "Henson Stitch" - they use teeny tiny little whip stitches, which are also very successful). While it is no mystery, it IS hard to describe verbally. With the RIGHT sides of the fabric together, push your threaded needle into the RIGHT side of one of the pieces of fabric, close to the edge between the two facing sides, so it comes out the WRONG side. Now loop the needle around towards where the two pieces come together, and again, push it into the RIGHT side of the opposite piece of fabric so it comes out the WRONG side. Three warnings: the stitches have to be very close to the edge of the fabric, but not so close that the edge will ravel; the stitches have to be fairly small; and the tension of the stitches has to be consistent or you will end up with a messy-looking seam. It is certainly MUCH slower than whip-stitching. It is also usually necessary to pick the fleece/fur fibers out of the seam and trim away any errant, over-long fibers."
    Kzyoung and Magpiestars like this.
  6. BorkBork

    BorkBork Member

    Here's the stich:

    You put the needle through the fabric, make a loop, go through the loop and back again, then make an @-sigh wirh the thread and go through the middle with the thread, do the whole thing in reverse, and then repeat until finished :D :D :D
  7. erniebert1234ss

    erniebert1234ss Active Member

    Boy am I glad you responded, Bork! I'll copy-and-paste that to MS Word!!!

  8. ScrapsFlippy

    ScrapsFlippy Member

    Having had the pleasure of working with creature shop built puppets from Bear in the Big Blue House, I can attest that the "Henson Stitch" is done by hand, and really does hide the seams (even at close range on a furry guy like Pip or Pop.)
    Chuk likes this.
  9. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    Yes but it's not really a proprietary stitch...Don Sahlin or whomever first "discovered it" for the Muppets really just stumbled on to a variation of a stitch that has been around in needlework forever.

    The reason you won't see seams in a puppet is because whoever it was sewn by was very good. Someone who can't sew well could use the "Henson stitch" and the seam would still be visible.
    Ian Mac likes this.
  10. erniebert1234ss

    erniebert1234ss Active Member

    Good point, Buck. Thanx for all your help!

  11. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    The topic of the Henson stitch popped up recently on the puptcrit list and someone posted this diagram of a ladder stitch which I believe the Henson stitch is a variation on. The whole site contains several stitching diagrams that are helpful.
  12. WayneC

    WayneC New Member

    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.

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