Most of you are probably aware of the Great ThinkGeek Tauntaun Hoax of ‘Ought-Nine, wherein they sent out their yearly April Fools newsletter, one of the featured “products” was a Tauntaun Sleeping Bag, and there was a great disturbance in The Force as if millions of voices cried out, “I must have this.” ThinkGeek is still trying to get a license to produce them for reals, but just for the heck of it I decided to see how hard it would be to make something similar. The verdict: Kind of a pain in the neck, but do-able. Here are my project notes.
A disclaimer is in order: This is a one-off craft project that I did for my own amusement. I have no intention of selling these things, and I’d highly recommend against anyone else trying to. LucasFilm’s lawyers will eat your eyeballs, people.
Also, please note that this is really just a rough proof of concept and its intended recipient was a five-year-old who is not known for his restraint. I cut a lot of corners and didn’t bother with a lot of the detailing that I would have done if I’d been making it for a teenage fanboy. If you’re crafty and a little more dedicated you can easily make a much nicer one. (Or just hope real hard that ThinkGeek eventually gets its license, and then you can buy one.)
5 yards 45″ cotton fabric for lining*
6 yards 45″ grey fleece
1 twin-size package of high-loft quilt batting
5 yards muslin or other cheap fabric (optional–an old bedsheet also works)
1 yard brown cotton fabric for horn and saddle
Scrap of black cotton fabric
Plastic eye (of the type used for stuffed toys)
8″ of snap tape (optional)
1 sleeping bag zipper (108″)
*A note about the lining fabric: I wrote to ThinkGeek and asked them if the intestine-print fabric they used in their mockup was real or Photoshopped. They were kind enough to reply with the unfortunate information that it’s a Photoshop job. If you simply must have the intestines, try Spoonflower, which custom-prints fabric on demand. I didn’t feel like dropping $20 a yard for the aforementioned five-year-old, so I just chose a sort of mauvy-pink solid color.
(Incidentally, a number of the details in the ThinkGeek photos were Photoshopped. The lady who did their prototype posted her build photos on Flickr, and she included comments about some of the digital changes they made to her design.)
(Click thumbnails for larger images)
|Cut the lining fabric in half widthwise (so that you have two 2-1/2-yard pieces of 45″-wide fabric), then stitch the two long edges together with a 1″ seam, resulting in one 2-1/2 yard piece of 88″ fabric.
Cut 1 yard of the fleece and set it aside for the head, legs, and tail, then cut and stitch the other 5 yards of fleece the same way that you did the lining.
|Open out the quilt batting and then fold in half lengthwise. Baste across the long edges to tack in place, then trim to the same length as the sleeping bag (you’ll trim more precisely a bit later).|
|Quilt batting needs to be tacked down to keep it from shifting. I didn’t want to have the tacking stitches visible in the sleeping bag lining, so I sandwiched the batting between two layers of old bedsheet and stitched it all together. If you prefer, you can tack it directly to the half of the lining fabric that will be on the bottom of the bag (if you use big looping stitches you could even make it look like intestines). You can also avoid the whole thing by using a sheet of thin foam instead of quilt batting.|
|The tacked-up padding.|
|Use butcher paper or opened-out paper grocery bags to create patterns for the legs and other detail pieces. I sketched the outlines freehand, but if you aren’t comfortable with your artistic abilities (I’m not comfortable with my artistic abilities, but I didn’t let that stop me) you can create the patterns using your favorite drawing program and then print them out. The pieces are larger than standard paper, but you could either print them out in sections and tape them together or take them to someplace like Kinko’s where they can do oversize printing. Or, y’know, just draw them freehand. Anyway, this is the haunch.|
This is the front leg. Remember that you need to leave a seam allowance around the edges, so don’t get too fiddly with corners and other details. I used a 1/2″ seam.
|Here’s the head. I should have made its snout a little wider. If I were really dedicated, I’d have mocked the head up using muslin to make sure I liked the proportions before cutting the fleece. But I wasn’t all that dedicated.|
|And the tail. Notice that I used a fabric marker to significantly change the outline of the pattern piece.|
|Cut a horn out of brown fabric. I changed the size of the horn using a fabric marker too.|
|Draw “twists” on the wrong side of the horn using a fabric marker, then stitch along the lines with black thread.|
|Stitch the two pieces of the horn together, clip curves, turn right-side out, and stuff.|
|Cut a scrap of black fabric into a triangle for the ear detail. Applique it to the ear, either by turning under 1/4″ all the way around and stitching in place or by running a narrow zigzag stitch along all of the raw edges. Be sure to allow space around the edges for the seam.|
|Attach the plastic eye according to manufacturer’s directions (which normally amounts to sticking the front part through a hole in the fabric and then pushing a locking piece onto the back), then use a narrow zigzag stitch to add other details. You can also embroider the face if you’re so inclined.|
|Applique a nostril similar to the ear detail.|
Add zigzag stitch detailing to the toes of the back leg, then attach the legs and saddle to the front of the bag. (Incidentally, I happen to hate applique, so I cut 2 of each piece, stitched and turned them, then tacked them in place. You could also cut 1 of each piece, turn under 1/2″ all around, then stitch down. I like the slightly more three-dimensional look of the doubled fabric, though.)
I thought I had a photo of the saddle pattern, but can’t find it. It’s just a large oval, folded in half and stitched. It and the strap are made of the same brown fabric as the horn, because I had it handy. You could use a different color if you prefer. The buckle is a square of black fabric overstitched with grey thread.
I decided to make the head and tail removable for slightly easier storage and/or cleaning. If you want to sew them to the bag, omit the instructions about the snap tape and instead catch the raw edges of the head and tail in the sleeping bag seams when you sew the bag together.
Place the raw edge of the horn along the seam line of the head. Stitch the two sides of the head together, clip curves, turn right-side out, and stuff. Turn under the raw neck edges and stitch closed. Cut a 4″ length of snap tape and stitch one side to the back of the neck.
Sew the matching half of snap tape to the bottom lining where you want it to snap on. (Remember to leave room for the seam allowance.)
Stitch and turn the tail, stuff, turn the raw edges, and stitch closed. Cut a 4″ length of snap tape and stitch one side to the front side of the tail near its widest point. (I’m missing a picture of this, too. I blame the elves.)
Sew the matching half of snap tape to the underside of the bag, near the back seam.
Attach the zipper. Turn under 5/8″ on the long sides of both the lining and the fleece. If you want the bottom of the bag to open as well, turn under 5/8″ as well. I decided that I didn’t want to try to make the zipper turn a corner, so I stitched the bottoms closed. (With right sides together, stitch 5/8″ along the bottom of the fleece and turn right-side out. Stitch the lining similarly but don’t turn.)
Turn under 1″ on the top edge of lining and fleece.
Stitch the zipper into the lining, then insert the whole shebang into the fleece and stitch the fleece onto the other side of the zipper. (This makes sense if you’ve ever sewn a zipper into clothing and is pretty much inexplicable if you never have. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out this zipper tutorial.)
|Trim the quilted pad or foam sheet to fit if necessary, then insert between the bottom layers of lining and fleece. Stitch the top edges closed.|
|Snap the head and tail in place.|
|The finished bag. Not the best picture in the world, sorry; I didn’t have anywhere to stand to get a better one.|
Start to finish, the project took about 15 hours over a couple of weekends. None of it was terribly difficult, and it didn’t require any specialized equipment.
Obviously, this same method could be applied to all sorts of sleeping bag designs; a friend suggested a “Where the Wild Things Are” bag, which would also be cute.