Pick a random dude to base how your puppet will look like. Think about what the puppet's characteristics are. Will it have a long or short face, big or small nose, round or other shape nose, big eyes, small eyes... Should it be fuzzy, furry, or just soft and cuddly. Will you have a bald puppet or something with a unique hairdo? What accessories will it need. Or, just start sewing and create something as you go...
Step 1: Create the Mouthpiece...
You can also use a serger to do most everything except adding details where you need a straight or zigzag stitch. You can look at the Robohoodie for American Girl Dolls for more info on using a serger.
This project does not require any expensive foam pieces or core shapes. You do not need to deal with toxic foam bits from cutting and sanding or need to use toxic glues.
All you need is:
- fabric material of any kind
- a bit of cardboard
- a sewing machine
- a serger if you have one
- an imagination
I folded over that sheet of black felt to make the top and bottom of the mouth. Add a piece of red felt shaped like a tongue.
Cut out matching pieces of some other material to match. This is to form 2 pockets for the top and bottom of the mouth. Later on we will slip in cardboard stiffeners and that is where you place your hands to animate the mouth. I serged the edge of fabric for the pocket opening.
Sandwich everything and serge around the half-moon shape. Cut out carboard stiffeners to fit in the pockets. Test fit and take out to make the rest of the sewing easier.
Step 2: Don't Get a Head of Yourself...
Cut a portion for the top of the face from that strip of fabric.
Attach the longer piece to the bottom of the mouth.
Add the shorter piece to the top of the mouth.
Sew so that when turned out the seam will be hidden.
Step 3: Get a Sense for It...
Cut out two round circles of white felt and sew or glue on to use as the eyes. Take a magic marker to draw on the pupils of the eyes if you are not using more felt for the the pupils.
There is some magic golden triangle proportion that real Muppets have with the placement of the eyes and nose. The pupils are closer together so it seems they are looking at you no matter which way the puppet is facing you.
Step 4: Hear No Monkey, See No Monkey,...
I did not have time to make the hands. You can do the same thing like the ears. Take two layers of material and draw out a hand that has only four fingers. Sew around the outline and flip inside out. You can then use it as a puppet glove or stuff it with fiberfill. Attach a dowel or thin stiff wire like a welding rod to move the arms.
Trim the face so it is rounded over at the top. Cut out a strip of fabric the length of the puppet. Place the face down on the new strip of fabic so you can sew everything inside out.
Place the ears in position in the sandwich on the inside with the openings on the seam to be attached. Sew or serge around the sides and top of the puppet to form a bullet-shaped figure.
Flip everything inside out. Place the cardboard stiffeners back in the mouth pockets.
Step 5: More Stuff...
Now is the time to accessorize.
You can have a bald puppet or add some cool hair. Use fake fur to make a hairpiece. I'm not only a member but I'm the president...
The trick to working with fake fur is to cut it on the back with a razor knife. Cut just enough to be able to gently rip it apart so that the long hairs on the front are still intact and not cut short.
If you are sewing it, just comb everything away from the seam. After you have sewn it, fluff up and brush the hair back over to cover the seam.
Attach the toupee, rug, whatever you want to call it to the top of the head with tape or you can sew it on.
Make glasses from a piece of cardboard. I taped a paperclip on the back of it to hook into the bridge of the nose. I didn't have any pins laying around.
Find some old baby-sized clothes for the puppet to wear. Stuff the clothing and arms/hands to fill out the shape.