Back in December of 2012 I introduced my daughter to The Nightmare Before Christmas. She was not quite two then and while I was worried it might be a little scary for her, I thought she would love all the music and singing. I was right. She became obsessed with it. She would ask for ‘Jack’s movie’ multiple times a day (and then had many hissy fits when I did not let her watch it all day on an endless loop as she would have liked to). But we did watch it at least once a day for about three months.
So in January of 2012, since she loved it so much, I decided I would make her a Jack Skellington to play with as he was her favorite character. I wanted it to be kind of like a stuffy, but also have movable arms and legs. So I set to work.
I made this little Jack Skellington back when I still considering having a blog so luckily I took pictures along the way. However, I was not thinking about this from a tutorial aspect, and I also had never made any type of stuffy/plushie/action figure type thing before. Ever. I was entirely winging it. I used no directions, and completely made it up as I went. So I apologize if anything I did was unclear, and if you feel like making a Jack, please feel free to adapt this and make it easier on yourself! But, here’s my little Jack project.
First off, I gathered supplies.
- Reference of Jack
- Black and white felt
- Cotton batting
- Various pipe cleaners
- Small pieces of balsa wood
- Hot glue gun
- Fabric scissors
- Black and white thread, plus a sewing needle
- Black Sharpie
- Fine tip paint brush and white acrylic paint (fabric paint would work as well I assume – acrylic was what I had on hand)
- Tea (no project is complete without tea!)
I started off making a white felt ball. I did this by cutting pointed oval shapes and hand sewing them together, then filling with cotton batting to form a sphere. If you have an easier way to make a felt ball, definitely use it! Make sure you leave a hole in the bottom of the sphere to insert the neck. His eyes are just small pieces of cut black felt I hot glued on, and I drew on his nostrils and grin with the black Sharpie.
For his neck I cut a small piece of balsa wood I had, then wrapped and hot glued it in a scrap of white felt. I wanted the wood to give it stability to hold his head up so he didn’t end up with a flopping head.
Then I inserted the stick into the hold in the bottom of his head, and sealed it shut with hot glue.
Next I made his torso. The finished torso (above) is only picture I took, but it’s not too complicated to explain. Basically I cut out two torso shaped pieces of white felt and hand sewed them together, making sure to leave a neck hole open and two arm holes open. I shoved in some cotton batting through the neck hole – Jack is skinny, but he still needs SOME shape. I didn’t worry about the stitches being visible since nearly the whole torso will be covered by the pants and clothes meaning the outside stitch won’t be at all visible. Once finished, set it aside as you won’t need the torso again for awhile. Next up I worked on the collar pieces of his suit.
I grabbed a second reference picture to use for his collar detail since in my first pic it isn’t too clear. First I cut out the shapes. Then I hand painted on the bat’s eyes,
and added the striping detail to the collar pieces using the white acrylic paint.
Next I started the pants. First I twisted two pipe cleaners together (they are much less flimsy that way and hold a better bent shape) that will serve as Jack’s legs. I made a paper template to cut out two halves of the pants.
Then I stitched them together (obviously leaving the top and ankle holes open) and flipped it inside out so the stitches don’t show and you just have a regular seam. Flipping the pants in on themselves was incredibly frustrating and time consuming. It was such a small area to work with but eventually I found a method that worked. I used a small wooden dowel and shoved some of the material in, then used tweezers to pull it through the other side. It still took some serious time, but it got the job done!
Then it came time for the pin striping. I used white acrylic paint because it’s just what I had, and hand painted on the stripes. This actually went much quicker than expected. Because of the felt, you do get some felt wisps of fabric that get stuck in the paint; I just trimmed them off with cuticle scissors once the paint was dry.
Then I threaded the pipe cleaner legs through the pants, and glued the pants and tops of pipe cleaners to the torso. Also as you can see at this point I have glued Jack’s head and neck to the torso too.
Next I started the coat. I made two sleeves with black felt (using the same process as the pants and if you thought the pants were frustrating to turn inside out, just wait until you get to the even skinnier arms) and twisted two pipe cleaners together again to make arms. Then I made a paper coat pattern (using the oh-so professional method of visualizing how the coat would look open and sketching it out in pencil!). To make sure it would fit the Jack body I’d made, I fitted the paper template to his already made torso. Note – the bottom of Jack’s coat doesn’t end in regular coattails! I just made this to cut out the top shape and did the bottom coattails by eyeballing it.
Here are the two arms and the overcoat all cut out with the proper coattails.
Then I cut two holes in the coat and sewed on each sleeve. The first picture is the view from the back, the second is the front view with the coat open.
For the next step (before pin striping) I wrapped the coat around Jack to see where to hot glue down his collar/jacket folds. Once those were glued, I pinstriped the coat. It’s not attached to Jack in this picture; this was just the best way to display the pin stripes.
Next I threaded his pipe cleaner arms through the sleeves, glued the arms into their torso holes, and glued his coat shut and used a teeny piece of white felt to make that middle button. I ended up painting the white felt with the white acrylic so it stood out more.
This would be the point where you would make hands. . .and I realized I don’t have any pictures of me making those. Ugh. But all you do is draw a very basic hand shape with pointy fingers on a paper template and cut out four of the templates on white felt. Then take two of them and glue them together so you have two hands (I used two layers of felt so they’d be less floppy). I made my hands with four fingers and a thumb and realized only after that Jack only has three fingers and a thumb. Whoops. Then draw on the knuckle bones with a sharpie (see the finished pictures below for a view of the hands).
Before I start the feet if you look at the top of the pic, you can see the felt hands I cut out! That’s the only picture I have with the hands!
Now onto the feet. I completely made up jacks feet. In all the reference pictures I look at you see that he has some form of pointy black boots. So I made some pointy black boots! I cut out two triangle pieces and folded the farthest corners together to make the shape you see in my hands. If you look in the below picture you see that the two corners aren’t glued together, they are open (look at the boot laying on the table). Make sure you leave those corners open (aka dab a TINY drop of hot glue in the middle of the boot area, not at the top corners)! You’ll need them when you glue the shoes to his legs.
Then I hot glued two tiny pieces of balsa wood into the base of the boot (to hold the shape). After that I cut out two more pointy oval shapes (you can see one in the right of the pic) to glue on to the front of the boot, essentially ‘closing’ the boot. Now it’s time to attach the boots to Jack’s pipe cleaner ankles, which is why you need the top part of the boot open. Insert the pipe cleaner in that open part and glue the sides shut – this hides the funny looking top part of the boot under the pants, and gives the boot more stability with the ankle inside. Lastly, glue on his collar pieces and you’re done!
And there you have it! Your own Jack Skellington. Hilariously enough my daughter was terrified of him. She did not like the fact that a TV character was IN her real life, and she refused to touch him. I actually had so much fun making him though that I still consider it totally worth the effort! He now has a permanent home on our geeky/nerdy collectibles shelf, as you can see here in this post.
Questions, comments, concerns? I’d love to hear any and all!