Introduction: Make a Muppet Puppet!

Picture of Make a Muppet Puppet!

Oh yay! Get ready to up the glee factor for errrrbody around you. Problem at School? Apply Puppets. Hard day at the Office? Puppets. Tired? Puppets. Sad? Puppets. Angry? Double Puppets. Happy? Probably because of Puppets.

This starting Muppet puppet project is a great introduction to sewing and craft through character and play. I look at puppet-making as an extremely useful classroom activity, as you can work on tactile skills, pattern recognition, character-building, acting, and storytelling all together.

And if you're like me, muppet puppets are just the best. Here's a great read on them to get started.

  • What: Muppet Puppets!
  • Concepts: patterns, characters, design
  • Time: ~ 1-2 hours (depending on how much you want to play)
  • Cost: ~$6, but can be variable depending on supply
  • Materials:
    • ~24 inch body puppet body material (we used soft fleece)
    • Stuffing
    • Cardboard (mouth)
    • Black felt (mouth)
    • Red felt (tongue)
    • White fleece (eye and teeth)
    • Craft styrofoam boall (eye)
    • Any pupil material (black construction paper, plastic)
    • Maribou (hair)
    • Poles (for hand support, can be wood, metal, etc)
  • Tools:
    • Scissors
    • Sewing Machine
    • Hand Sewing basics (pins, needle, thread)
    • Hot Glue Gun / hot glue

Puppet time!

Step 1: Puppet Body

Picture of Puppet Body

Start by doubling your fabric over and drawing a puppet body. You want room for your hand, the head to be oversized and cute, and for arms to be thick enough that you can get stuffing in to them.

Draw, pin it up, and cut it out!

Step 2: Sew and Flip

Picture of Sew and Flip

Hop on to your favorite sewing device, and make this puppet come to life. Leave the bottom open where your hand goes in, and then flip it. You may find it useful to have a pencil for poking the hands through when you flip as they can be a wee difficult.

Step 3: Stuff Those Arms

Picture of Stuff Those Arms

Time to pump it up! Take some stuffing, and jam it into your puppet arms to your heart's content. It will stay there for the most part, just wedge it up in there to give those arms some volume.

Step 4: The Lips

Picture of The Lips

Draw a line across your muppet head about halfway up the head. Cut out only the front piece of fabric. Fold the edge under a little bit, and hot glue so that your muppet has lips instead of exposed cut fabric.

Step 5: The Mouth

Picture of The Mouth

Cut a cardboard oval out of cardboard with the same lengthwise diameter as the slit you cut for the mouth. Then glue on some black felt, fold, and glue it into the lips. You can glue on a tongue too out of red felt if you want!

Step 6: Eyeball

Picture of Eyeball

Our muppet puppet (named Astro) is a cyclops. Yours doesn't need to be, but cyclops are pretty cute when they're not destroying things.

Cut a styrofoam craft ball in half, and cover with white fleece. Glue it all together to keep it in place, then glue it to the puppet head. You can glue on any kind of black dot for the pupil. It can be a sticker, some black paper, or in our case, a wee bit of cut out plastic.

Step 7: Hairstyle

Picture of Hairstyle

Time for the salon! You can add whatever hairstyle you can dream of, and even add ears, horns, etc. We found that maribou is a great material for it, and flows when your puppet moves giving it more life. Add a little glue to the head, and add a strip of maribou you cut out. You can also use felt, string, or anything else you can find.

Step 8: Tooth Time!

Picture of Tooth Time!

Optional of course, but a cyclops has to chew its food somehow. For each tooth, cut out a shape similar to the tongue. Sew along the curve, leaving the base open. Then flip and stuff it, and sew the tooth closed. These can be hot glued quite easily under the puppet's lips. Repeat for as many teeth as you want your puppet to have.

Looking chompy!

Step 9: Hand Poles

Picture of Hand Poles

This is a hand-and-rod style puppet, and that means you need some rods to help it gesticulate. Snip a stich on the arms, and wedge in whatever you have around. It can be a dowel, some very stiff wire, and an unfolded clothes hanger works pretty well, too. Wedge them into each hand, and add a little hot glue to keep it in place.

We taped ours black to make it attract less attention. You can tape, mark, or paint it however you want.

Step 10: Puppet Puppet Puppet Time!

Picture of Puppet Puppet Puppet Time!

Oh yay! You are ready to spread joy all throughout the land. Be it puppet show, videos, or facilitating tough conversations! The world is your oyster, and your puppets' character is yours to bring to life. Go for it, and spread the joy. But of course, every puppet needs friends, so don't just stop at one.

Show us what you made, and enjoy! We always love comments and questions, too. :)

Comments

muppet puppet boy (author)2017-04-03

awesome puppet thanks for all the help on the way!

CobyUnger made it! (author)2015-05-04

That GIF is AMAZING!

Here's one I made for halloween.

MelissaS298 (author)CobyUnger2017-03-27

Do you have any advice to make the insides? Or is there a place I could find a pattern?

LiveCrafts (author)2015-08-21

Oh, the GIF! That made my day!!

Oh very kind of you, LiveCrafts! Thank you for the comment!

ashleyjlong (author)2015-05-04

That GIF is delightful! I like using Smooth-On to coat styrofoam balls for eyes. A nice option if you don't want to mess with bunching up fleece on the back. A friend of mine goes all out and casts resin eyes too!

That is a WONDERFUL suggestion. Yes to this, as the fleece is quite bunchy. Thank you for that, Ashley!

Ok, just published that patterning Ible. I bet if you did this with your foam ball a few darts in the fleece pattern will reduce your felt bunching woes :)

https://www.instructables.com/id/Cast-or-Pattern-An...

No problem! I have built a number of large scale puppets and learned from my failures and successes. Sometimes your materials might depend on your final purpose. So, if a puppet were to be used under stage lights you'd want to make sure your eyeball has a matte/ satin finish so the lights don't create annoying reflections. Fleece covered would be good for that as long as you can avoid the bunching. Painted Nerf balls are actually perfect, if your eyes are small!

I'm sure a lot of users are going to have fun using your Ible for their first builds!

Saiyam (author)2015-05-06

That's so cute and the gif is great :)

ChickieDyky (author)2015-05-05

Very funny :)

Igioteno (author)2015-05-04

How long did this take?

NathanSellers (author)2015-05-04

Awesome. I've always been interested in making puppets. Thanks for sharing.

Oh great! Can't wait to see 'em!

seamster (author)2015-05-04

Awesome stuff!

Love that GIF, too!

Thank you mightily, seamster!

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Bio: The Oakland Toy Lab is a community-based wonder lab for students to build, tinker, explore, make, break, and learn! We are writing up engaging science ... More »
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