Step 4: Position the mouth
For this step you’ll need the felt lips ready. Some suggested shapes for the felt pieces can be found at the end of this guide. The shape of the lips is up to you but the window in the middle needs to frame the working part of the zip all the way around, leaving enough space around it that the zip won’t catch on the felt. The felt piece hides all the stitches that attach the zip and tummy-bag. It also reinforces the mouth area and adds another opportunity for a splash of colour.
For a 5″ zip, the hole in the felt needs to be a bit more than 5″ wide . The height of the cutout window depends on whether you chose a standard or a chunky zip, and how much of the zip fabric you’d like to leave visible on the finished monster.
- Decide where to place the mouth/zip and pin the felt lips into place on the front of your monster.
- Optional: tack the lips into place
- Make a 5″ horizontal cut through the front body piece of fabric, using the frame made by the felt lips as your guide.
- With sharp scissors, carefully extend the 5” cut behind the felt lips. It should finish about halfway under the felt at each corner of the mouth. It’s important that the raw ends of the cut are well covered by the felt but do not extend as far as the outer edge of the lips.
- Turn the body piece right-side down on a hard surface.
- Carefully make small cuts at each corner of the slit we just cut – we are aiming to create a small flap that we can fold back behind the upper and lower felt lips, and two smaller flaps that can be folded back at the corners of the mouth.
- Press the flaps back with an iron.
- Optional: Sew the flaps down.
- Optional: Reinforce the raw corners with a stitch or two.
- Turn body right-side up and check you’re happy with the position of the lips. You should now have a window in the centre of the felt lips with no fabric visible behind it.
- With thread that matches the felt, sew across the top and then the bottom lip, attaching the fabric flap to the back of the felt as you go. I suggest tiny stitches on the outside. The back will be hidden so longer stitches there are fine. They don’t need to be too close together – we will go over this area again when we attach the zip, then again when we attach the tummy-bag. If you’re confident (or just more organised than me), you could skip this step and work with the lips tacked or pinned as we set the zip, or even combine adding the zip with adding the tummy-bag.
- Press the whole front body piece with an iron, paying most attention to the lip area.
- Sew around the felt edges. I use tiny hemming stitches that are almost invisible, and sometimes go over it afterwards with contrasting machine embroidery. Blanket stitch looks nice too. The decoration looks good, but the goal is to prevent the felt edges lifting in the future. If hand-sewing, you can leave this step until you’ve set the zip, or even until you’ve added the tummy-bag, sewing through all the mouth layers at once.
- NOTE: It’s difficult to machine-sew close to the inner edge of the felt lips once the zip pull is in place. If you wish to finish that edge with a sewing machine, I recommend doing it now.