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Henson Stitch

Discussion in 'Puppet Building and Performing' started by puppet builder, Jul 24, 2002.

  1. puppet builder

    puppet builder Active Member

    Does anyone know the specifics (machine settings) of the Henson Stitch? I've read a number of times that Don Sahlin created a stitch that renders a seam virtually invisible. I just haven't homed in on the proper stitch type and density yet. Saving time would be appreciated!

    puppet builder
  2. Treelo

    Treelo Well-Known Member

    Ditch the sewing machine - the "Henson Stitch" is done by hand, and it takes forever.

    Without revealing specifics, I suggest you experiment with a few different stitches and see what works for you.

    If you need to conserve as much time as possible, hand stitch the visible areas of the puppet and send the rest through your machine.
  3. Sir Didymus

    Sir Didymus Well-Known Member

    The Henson Stitch does take quite some time. I only use it on the head and on the hands and arms. Good Luck!

    Sir Didymus
  4. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    For a long time, I believed that there was no "Henson Stitch" and figure it was just a myth, like the Loch Ness Monster or Compassionate Republicans*, designed to throw the casual puppet maker off the real "secret" Antron fleece.

    But alas Virginia, there is a Henson stitch. Took us years to discover it on our own (we thought we were very clever until an ex-Muppet builder told us they had been doing it forever) so I'm not spilling the goods.

    Don't use a machine, experiment with various hand stitches until you find one that works well for you!

    *No offence was intended to any real compassionate Republicans, if such a thing indeed exists. :)
  5. FellowWLover

    FellowWLover Well-Known Member

    Oh come on.... someone just tell him how to do it already.
  6. rickly

    rickly Active Member

    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.

    So there.
  7. puppet builder

    puppet builder Active Member

    Thanks Rickly!

    Thanks so much!!!!
  8. Sir Didymus

    Sir Didymus Well-Known Member

    To Rick Lyon

    The "Henson Stitch" is not a Myth. Dave Goelz taught me how to do it. I've had times where Its turned out so well, that the seams are almost invisible. So it is not a Myth. Just thought you'd like to know that.

    Jake Lockman

    Sir Didymus
    Zoot Fan 1981 likes this.
  9. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member


    My understanding of the "Henson Stitch" was tiny, tight stitches, and too much extra material on the wrong side of the cloth is clipped away by scissors and then the seam pulled open but not apart and then the 'fuzz' is picked out of the seam.

    I did this on a monster puppet of mine and it worked...but he has WAY ON YONDER shaggy fur.

    I stitched Muley by hand, and for the most part seams are invisible in some places in person, but on tv or photos, it's very un-noticeable.

    Yep, Henson needs me!! CALL ME OUT FOLKS!!

  10. Sir Didymus

    Sir Didymus Well-Known Member

    You have the idea. You have to have material that is thick because you can't do it on thin material. I was just trying to convince Rick that it's not a "Myth". Because he keeps telling everyone "The Henson Stitch is a Myth", when its not.

    Sir Didymus
  11. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    Okay, I forgot something here:

    That was in the case of MACHINE sewn material. Clip the excess AWAY from the seam, but not so much that it will fray the remainder, then pull it open and pick out the fur.

    This is how I was told once that it is done.

  12. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    Not to knock your opinion Didymus, `cause I've had the "Muppet stitch discussion" with a (former) Henson person as well, but I don't think Rick would steer us wrong on this, what with him actually being a Muppeteer and all.

    Maybe this is like the "Caramilk secret" - we'll just never really know. ;)
  13. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    OOOooooooh!! Hey, kewl!

    SO, Rick, my friend. My comrade...good ole buddy ole pal o' mine!!

    What all DO you DO there at JHC?
  14. Treelo

    Treelo Well-Known Member

    "SO, Rick, my friend. My comrade...good ole buddy ole pal o' mine!! What all DO you DO there at JHC?"

  15. Treelo

    Treelo Well-Known Member

    I would argue that there is (or at least was) a "Henson Stitch" at one point in time. If nothing else, you can refer to Don's comment in "The Muppets on Puppets" where he mentions it.

    I was taught the stitch(es) when I started working with the characters about a year ago - although I had figured out good fleece stitches on my own years before. It's pretty basic after all.
  16. Sir Didymus

    Sir Didymus Well-Known Member

    All I know is that the stitch Dave explained to me works. I asked him "How do you do the "Henson Stitch" and he described a way how to do it, which is very similar to the example Fozz gave. But I guess there are other ways to do it.

    Sir Didymus
  17. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member



    Impressive resume, dude! You're now one of my heroes.
  18. erniebert1234ss

    erniebert1234ss Well-Known Member

    is there a programmable sewing machine that you can program the Henson stitch into and it does it automatically? I would use that because I'm an impatient person who would like to make puppets/muppets by myself and hand sewing is too much for a guy like me.
  19. DirthNader

    DirthNader Well-Known Member

    Holy Mary Mother of Magik-Markers and hand-crafted puppets :o Having taken a gander at Rick.... I'm sorry, I mean Mr. Lyon's resume, I can only sit here in utter amazement and wonder just what sort of miracle guided me to this place.

    I never imagined such talent would lend itself to the expansion of puppetry in such a way, and I must say...... I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy....

    Until I am able to regain my composure, that's about all I will be able to say.
  20. MuppetQuilter

    MuppetQuilter Well-Known Member

    I'm just a novice when it comes to puppet building, but I don't think a programmable sewing machine will cut it here. I've got a pretty shnazzy machine, but the thickness of the foam makes it difficult to get through a machine (though I do force it through sometimes). You generally need a precise seam with puppets-- the stitching line needs to be exactly where you want it-- and forcing it through the machine can require a lot of tugging and mess up your line. Somethings are just better done by hand. Generally, I avoid hand sewing at all costs but, alas, it is necessary at times.

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