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
- ~24 inch body puppet body material (we used soft fleece)
- 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)
- Sewing Machine
- Hand Sewing basics (pins, needle, thread)
- Hot Glue Gun / hot glue
Step 1: 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
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
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
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
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
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
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!
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.
Step 9: 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!
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. :)