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June 28, 2011

You’d be hard pressed to find someone—in this or any other galaxy, no matter how far, far away—who is not a fan of Star Wars, and the insta-classic from 1977 is now a franchise that clearly needs no introduction. Bonnie Burton is an aficionado of the highest order and, as a lucky Lucasfilm employee, keeper of the StarWars.com kids section. Since 2004, she’s been posting regular craft projects bringing beloved characters—and Jar Jar Binks—to googly-eyed life, and recently released The Star Wars Craft Book, the very first published collection of Star-Wars-themed how-tos.

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  Here's the little guy, all finished.
    Here's the little guy, all finished.
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  Materials! Here's what you'll need to make it happen:
• 1/3 yard green fabric. I used a light cotton twill, but Bonnie used fleece in the book. Anything goes!
• 1/4 yard tan fabric
• Orange, black, and tan felt. I bought a square of each, but you don't use much!
• Embroidery floss in green, black, orange, and tan
• Scissors
• Straight pins
• Chalk or white charcoal pencil (optional)
• Sewing machine (optional)
    Materials! Here's what you'll need to make it happen: • 1/3 yard green fabric. I used a light cotton twill, but Bonnie used fleece in the book. Anything goes! • 1/4 yard tan fabric • Orange, black, and tan felt. I bought a square of each, but you don't use much! • Embroidery floss in green, black, orange, and tan • Scissors • Straight pins • Chalk or white charcoal pencil (optional) • Sewing machine (optional)
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  Fold the green fabric in half, width-wise, and draw out your Jabba shape in chalk.
    Fold the green fabric in half, width-wise, and draw out your Jabba shape in chalk.
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  Cut out Jabba (you'll have two identical pieces of fabric).
    Cut out Jabba (you'll have two identical pieces of fabric).
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  Lay the tan fabric on top of the green, and cut out a piece that will be Jabba's face and belly. It doesn't have to be perfect! You can freehand this part, or draw your shape with chalk and then cut it out. Pin this to one layer of the green fabric.
    Lay the tan fabric on top of the green, and cut out a piece that will be Jabba's face and belly. It doesn't have to be perfect! You can freehand this part, or draw your shape with chalk and then cut it out. Pin this to one layer of the green fabric.
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  Sew the tan fabric onto one of the green pieces. I tucked a teensy bit under for a little hem and used a sewing machine, but you could just as easily hand stitch this part.
    Sew the tan fabric onto one of the green pieces. I tucked a teensy bit under for a little hem and used a sewing machine, but you could just as easily hand stitch this part.
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  Close up of the sewing machine stitches.
    Close up of the sewing machine stitches.
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  Jabba's facial features are pretty straightforward. You'll need: four tan half-circles for his eyelids; two black almonds for his pupils; two orange circles for his eyes; two watermelon seed shapes for his nostrils; and a mouth. (I cut this mouth out but I was doing this project in the backyard and it blew away, so eagle-eyed readers will notice he ends up with a different smirk)
    Jabba's facial features are pretty straightforward. You'll need: four tan half-circles for his eyelids; two black almonds for his pupils; two orange circles for his eyes; two watermelon seed shapes for his nostrils; and a mouth. (I cut this mouth out but I was doing this project in the backyard and it blew away, so eagle-eyed readers will notice he ends up with a different smirk)
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  Lay out his face the way you want it.
    Lay out his face the way you want it.
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  Pin his features into place, then hand-stitch them on, matching the embroidery floss to the feature.
    Pin his features into place, then hand-stitch them on, matching the embroidery floss to the feature.
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  Here's how my Jabba's eyes look up close.
    Here's how my Jabba's eyes look up close.
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  And his funny face.
    And his funny face.
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  Pin the right sides of the two green pieces together (Jabba's face will be on the inside). Once they're secure, sew around the outside edge, leaving a few inches open and un-stitched. When you've finished, turn Jabba inside out. At this point he's a pillowcase.
    Pin the right sides of the two green pieces together (Jabba's face will be on the inside). Once they're secure, sew around the outside edge, leaving a few inches open and un-stitched. When you've finished, turn Jabba inside out. At this point he's a pillowcase.
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  Stuff Jabba through the small, unstitched hole you left.
    Stuff Jabba through the small, unstitched hole you left.
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  When he feels the right fluffiness, stitch the opening up with the green embroidery thread.
    When he feels the right fluffiness, stitch the opening up with the green embroidery thread.
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  I have to admit, arms were an afterthought for me. Were I doing this again, I'd cut them out, stuff them, then stick them in before step 12, so they'd be part of the seam. It still worked this way, though. Double up the green fabric, then draw, and cut out, two little arms.
    I have to admit, arms were an afterthought for me. Were I doing this again, I'd cut them out, stuff them, then stick them in before step 12, so they'd be part of the seam. It still worked this way, though. Double up the green fabric, then draw, and cut out, two little arms.
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  Stuff the arms, leaving some space and empty fabric up towards the open end.
    Stuff the arms, leaving some space and empty fabric up towards the open end.
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  I hand stitched these on where the seam hit on the sides. Hahaha, lookit this guy! What a goof!
    I hand stitched these on where the seam hit on the sides. Hahaha, lookit this guy! What a goof!
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  And here's Jabba, just chilling with his new pillow pals in his new home, my sofa. I have to admit, just looking at him makes me laugh, and he's actually a comfy addition to the living room scene.
    And here's Jabba, just chilling with his new pillow pals in his new home, my sofa. I have to admit, just looking at him makes me laugh, and he's actually a comfy addition to the living room scene.
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  Here's Bonnie proudly posing with her Acklay head and Jabba the Hutt body pillow.
    Here's Bonnie proudly posing with her Acklay head and Jabba the Hutt body pillow.
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  And the book! Guaranteed good times inside!
    And the book! Guaranteed good times inside!
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Here's the little guy, all finished.
Here's the little guy, all finished.

I actually fell into Star Wars by default. My older brother is, and always has been, a massive, huge, gigantic Star Wars devotee (who also now works at Lucasfilm). We spent many a youthful family vacation trolling antique stores for original action figures, he spent many an evening watching the movies, and, though I initially absorbed the series more than actively sought it out, I now see the obvious appeal.

And the book! Guaranteed good times inside!
And the book! Guaranteed good times inside!
After paging through Bonnie’s book (and much, much consideration), I settled upon sharing this plush Jabba the Hutt with you all. She envisioned it as a body pillow, so the step-by-step that follows is a bit modified, but you should absolutely check out the book for the original, as well as soon-to-be-classics such as the Admiral Sackbar paper bag puppet, holiday Mistle-TIE Fighter, and Han Solo in Soaponite.

Here's Bonnie proudly posing with her Acklay head and Jabba the Hutt body pillow.
Here's Bonnie proudly posing with her Acklay head and Jabba the Hutt body pillow.
I recently caught up with Bonnie—a woman whose love of all-things-geeky seems rivaled only by her love of making all-things-geeky—to talk finding common ground with Luke Skywalker, Ewok love, and the fruitful destiny of socks who’ve lost their mates.

 

You’re a font of geeky knowledge, but your adoration had to start somewhere. Can you remember your earliest brush with Star Wars?
I was a farm kid growing up in Kansas when I first saw Star Wars, at a drive-in double feature with Smokey and the Bandit (for the longest time I got the characters confused, thinking Burt Reynolds was Han Solo). I totally identified with Luke Skywalker, because he was also stuck on a farm. At home, I used to pretend that the combines in the distance were AT-ATs.
And when did you start to synthesize that with crafting?
I really like the aspect of creativity that was around during the 70s and 80s, whereas now that DIY sensibility is often overshadowed by gaming and more high-tech options. I try to tweak as many retro-type crafts as I can with a geeky twist, like painted rocks, or bean art, where literally you’re just gluing beans on a piece of board or wood to make a picture. I learned how to do that in 4H, and made a portrait of a poodle out of limas from a pattern. At that time, I think I would have rather made a portrait of Duran Duran.
Now that sounds like a good idea.
[Laughs] I may still do that. I should do a Simon Le Bon portrait. Simon Le Bean!
I think you just gave us a nice glimpse into how these projects come to be.
One day I was sitting in front of a pile of laundry—procrastinating—and thought, that sock looks just like Momaw Nadon (a “Hammerhead” from the Mos Eisley Cantina scene in A New Hope). His species is Ithorian, and they’ve got these weird shaped heads that already like the foot of a sock staring at you. Three or four hours later there were no clean clothes, but I had made a doll. We all lose socks, and, to me, if you lose one of a pair it means your other is destined to be a doll or a puppet. I mean, come on. Your sock sacrificed itself for years to keep your foot warm, and you can pay it back by giving it life.
Do folks need any particular skill sets to get going on the projects in your book?
I wanted the majority of the crafts be easy; if a kid can do them then anyone can do them. But there are some that are more challenging—like the R2D2 crochet beanie or Mounted Acklay Head—for experienced crafters.
Any controversial projects make the cut?
I’m really glad that the Jar Jar Binks mind trick doll got into the book. Jar Jar is like the Jerry Lewis of Star Wars—He’s got this slapstick goofiness that French people and small children like. People love him or hate him.
Which side are you on?
I don’t like the prequels Jar Jar but I love Clone Wars Jar Jar; our animated T.V. series won me over.
Good to know there’s hope for the haters.
Well, no matter what the franchise is, there’s always something that fans are going to dislike. When I was growing up, there were very few people who liked Ewoks. I was very pro-Ewok, and I still am. I think they’re great. And they’re deadlier than people give them credit for—Like really vicious teddy bears with spears. Lets face it, they weren’t keeping Han Solo over the fire to keep him warm. He was the equivalent of an Ewok Hot Pocket. They were going to eat him, if it wasn’t for C3PO.
What craft are you working on now?
A dog bed that looks like the Sarlacc Pit. It has all these weird soft spikes, with a little Boba Fett helmet in there too.
I hope Simon Le Bean is next.
It is. It definitely is. I’m such a sucker for a good pun.

Check out these beyond-fun galleries that Bonnie compiled of young Jedis having a blast with felt, glitter, and googly eyes, making Yoda at Maker Faire and paper bag puppets at WonderCon.

And click through to see the slideshow on how to make your very own Jabba the Hutt pillow!

 

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