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Useful Stitches

Here are a few stitches to add to your hand stitching repertoire. Knowing these basic stitches can broaden the spectrum of possible solutions to many puppet building problems. Pay attention to the advantages of each stitch and practice them. You'll find they come in very handy in many situations.


Basic Stitches

Here are a few basic stitches that can go a long way in terms of professional results. Keep in mind that the stitches described should be very close to the edge of the fabric, but not so close that the edge will unravel; the stitches have to be fairly small; and the tension of the stitches has to be reasonably consistent. In the descriptions below the terms "right side" and "wrong side" will be used. The right side refers to the correct side of the fabric, the side that will show on the finished puppet. The wrong side refers to the backside of the fabric.



The Whipstitch

The whipstitch is probably the fastest and easiest stitch to use when hand sewing. It's a good all-purpose stitch and works well for most puppet building fabrics (ie. various fleeces and fur).

With the right sides of the fabric together, push your threaded needle into the wrong side of one of the pieces of fabric, through the second piece of fabric, so that it comes out the wrong side of the second piece. Loop the needle around over the top of where the two pieces come together and again push the needle into the wrong side of the first piece of fabric, through the second, and out. Continue to stitch in this manner for the length of the seam.



The Locking Whipstitch

The locking whipstitch is a variation of the whipstitch and is excellent for beginners. It is a good general stitch and makes consistency in the tension of the stitches very easy to achieve.

With the right sides of the fabric together, push your threaded needle into the wrong side of one of the pieces of fabric, through the second, so that it comes out the wrong side of the second piece. Loop the needle around over the top of where the two pieces come together and again push the needle into the wrong side of the first piece, through the second, and out.

Here is where the variation comes in. Before pulling the stitch tight, bring the needle through the loop of the stitch. Then pull tight. Youll notice that the extra step fixes the tension of the stitch, not allowing it to loosen as you move to the next one. Continue to stitch in this manner for the length of the seam.



The Baseball Stitch

The baseball stitch is a bit slower than the whipstitch, but, in our opinion, better in terms of quality. If you are seeking to sew "invisible seams" the baseball stitch is a great stitch to master.

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. Continue to stitch in this manner. Your stitches will probably be hard to see, considering that they are small and that the thread is the same color as the fabric, but they will eventually resemble the stitching on a baseball.



The Ladder Stitch

The ladder stitch is a very useful stitch in puppet building. It will allow you to stitch an opening closed from the right side of the fabric with a virtually invisible seam. Learn the ladder stitch and keep it in your bag of tricks. You will find it comes in very handy.

First, insert the threaded needle through the wrong side of the fabric near the start of the opening, pulling the thread through so that it comes out of the right side of the fabric and allowing the knot to catch. Now you are ready to start the stitch.

Bring the needle to the fabric edge on the opposite side of the opening from where you started. Insert the needle into the right side of the fabric, parallel to the fabric's edge and directly across from the point where the thread is coming out of the fabric on the opposite side. Push the needle out, still parallel with the edge of the fabric, about 1/8 inch or so down from the needle's insertion point. Pull the thread through and that is the stitch! Repeat the stitch, back and forth on both sides, until the opening is sewn shut.

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