I have been making puppets for theater shows for some years now and they are really pretentious and time consuming to make.Not the best puppet for kids.
So when my 3 year old niece came to visit I decided I needed to build a puppet that she could play with ,that would be easily washed and that would be sturdy enough to be regularly thrown from side to side :P
So here is the process of this simplified build.
It takes around one day to build if you are a little crafty and never built puppets,or half a day if you have built puppets before.
Also i am attaching the pattern here as an A2 paper . When I figure out how to split it in segments for printing I will also be posting it on Etsy
Please watch the Youtube video for a more detailed build process.
I plan to make more toy building tutorials in the near future so please subscribe to my Youtube channel if you like this tutorial.
Step 1: Tools and Supplies
some metal wire
Spool of sewing thread
a small piece of particle board for the mouthboard
Box cutter blades
some pliers and a small hand saw
And The pattern
Step 2: Trace and Cut
Trace the pattern on the foam using a permanent marker.It is a good idea to use a marker the same color as the finished puppet because sometimes it shows through the fabric.
Cut the pieces using a new box cutter blade and be careful to keep a 90 degree angle to the foam so you have a good edge .
If the blade gets a little dull you can either apply some sewing machine oil to it or just replace it.They tend to get dull quite quick.
Step 3: Marking the Mouthboard
Trace the mouthboard pattern two times on a piece of particle board and cut using a hand saw .
Be careful of the sharp blade. :)
Step 4: Glue Up
We are going to use contact cement to glue the pieces together so it is a good idea to work in a ventilated area or outside and use a mask .
The solvents in the glue are not so dangerous but they will make you a little dizzy so better to keep safe.
Apply contact cement on the edges of the foam pieces and wait until it has dried and not tacky anymore.
When the glue is dried you can connect the pieces together . You should have an instant bond of the two pieces.
The parts used for the face need a round edge so we need to fold the edge in half.
Take the piece and using a clean pencil push the middle of the edge inside while pinching the sides together.This gives you a nice round edge to the piece
Step 5: Head
Glue the two pieces of the head but remember not to glue the mouth opening :)
Glue the cheeks to the side of the mouth.
Step 6: Fabric
Trace the front fabric(skin) and the backing fabric .
Fleece is elastic on only one axis (just pull the fabric with your hands and you will understand instantly)so be sure to place the pattern so the puppet can get only wider and not longer.
Sew the front leaving the bottom and the mouth area opened .
Sew the backing to form a tube
Sew the backing to the front fabric
Step 8: Mouthboard Fabric
Trace the two pieces of particle board on top of a piece of fleece . This piece of fleece will be the inside of the mouth and visible so color is important. Leave about an inch between the two pieces of wood .
Also leave about half an inch around the pieces because we need to fold this extra half inch to the other side.
Step 9: Finishing the Mouthboard
Cut another piece of fleece this time without the extra half inch all around ,and sew two elastic bands to it.
One for the top board needs to be larger to fit the fingers and one for the bottom one to fit the thumb.
Glue the piece with the elastic band first.
The bigger piece needs to be glued to the other side and the extra fabric folded to cover the other fleece piece securing it place .
The piece with the elastic bands will take a lot of stress so leaving any edges exposed means trouble.
Step 10: Installing Mouthboard
Glue the mouthboard in place using contact cement.
Test to see how the mouth handles.
Step 11: Sculpting and Baking
I sculpted the eyes and nose from polymer clay.
It is a tough material and I really like that it comes in so many great colors.
For the eyes I made small tubes of clay and cut them in small pieces to form the iris .I pressed a small black ball in the middle of it.
The eye has a small piece of metal wire inserted inside .This piece of wire will connect the eye to the puppet
Step 12: The Nose
The nose is also sculpted from polymer clay.
I tried to go for a more realistic shape .The sculpting tool was a simple ball needle.
Bake the pieces according to the info on the packet of your clay .
Step 13: Face Features
Take the pieces for the face features (the ones with rounded edges ) and trace them on top of a folded piece of fleece.
Sew on the trace line and then remove the extra fabric .
Step 14: Some More Glue
Pull the front piece of fabric (the skin)on top of the foam head and glue the mouth line .
Take your time and be careful because this will be a very visible area of your puppet.
This is also the time to glue the top of the backing to the inside edge of the foam head.
Step 15: Inserting the Nose
Take the top muzzle piece and insert the nose .
Fold the two pieces of metal wire to secure the nose in place.
Step 16: Arms
Trace the arms ,sew and stuff.
Fleece is elastic on only one axis so be sure to place the pattern in a way that the arms can get only wider but not longer.
Step 17: Hand Sewing
Sew all face features to the puppets body.(top and bottom muzzle piece ,ears and hands).
I used a curved needle
Step 18: Eyes
Insert eyes and secure in place by bending the metal wires
Step 19: Have Fun
I hope this tutorial was somehow helpful.
You can also watch the Youtube tutorial for more details .
Please subscribe if you like it . I plan to make more toy making tutorials in the near future.
Let me know if anything else needs explaining .
First Prize in the
Sew Cool Contest