Introduction: Mexican Thumb Wrestler Puppets and Arena

About: Hi, I'm Jen! In my free time I'm a crafter, food lover, and cake decorator. I have a genuine love and appreciation for all things creative and handmade.


Get out your supplies, stretch your thumbs, name your characters, set up brackets and start wrestlin'!!!  It's nothin' but FUN!

Seriously, who doesn't love a good thumb wrestling match?! And with thumb wrestler puppets?!

In case you forgot the chant it goes something like this.....One, Two, Three, Four, I declare a thumb war!!!!

I have always liked the designs of lucha libra masks with their metallic colors and patterns. I used them as my inspiration for my character masks. Metallic thread gave them a similar look and feel - only thumb sized - and they are all wrestlers so it just made sense!

Step 1: Thumb Wrestler Design and Supplies

Thumb wrestling is a fun game that anyone can play and having a character mask makes it even more enjoyable.

I have seen many masks that cover the tip of your thumb but ultimately they just fall off when you try to pull your thumb away from the opponent. I designed my character masks longer and with elastic so they do not come off during a thumb war.

You will need the following supplies:
-colored felt of your choice
-metallic embroidery floss - if you don't have much experience with embroidery I would suggest regular floss. Metallic floss unravels easily and is much stiffer than normal floss.
-1/4 inch elastic
-character mask drawings - sized according to your thumb

Step 2: Embroider Character Mask

Cut out character mask pattern that you have fitted to the size of your thumb. Trace the outline onto a piece of felt of your choice of color. Do not cut the felt. Keep it large while embroidering as the felt can shrink in a bit with the stitches.

Draw the basic design onto the felt to prepare for embroidery. I quickly found out that my pattern was too detailed to get everything in the embroidery pattern the size of a thumb!

Using a need and metallic embroidery thread start stitching. I used a basic whip stitch to map out the entire character mask.

I have provided step-by-step pictures to help guide the process. There isn't much explaining needed. Every once in a while place your thumb over the mask to make sure it is still the same approximate size.

Repeat the entire process with remaining character mask drawings/patterns.

Step 3: Sew Character Mask Form

Once the entire mask is embroidered draw a line on either side to make the body portion of the mask. As in the first picture. You want to make sure the felt is long enough that when you put the elastic in it will sit right below your thumb knuckle.

Cut around the drawn line and mask about 1/4 inch. Trace that shape onto another piece of plain felt and cut out.

Make a hem at the bottom of each felt cut out and using a running stitch stitch along the hem making sure it is wide enough to accommodate the elastic.

Place right sides of felt facing each other and stitch along the entire outside except for one side of the elastic. Keep it open so you can pull it tight so the mask stays on your thumb securely.

Turn wrestler right-side out. Fit thumb inside the wrestler and pull elastic enough to make it snug around your thumb. Mark where that is and stitch the two pieces of elastic together. Snip elastic short.

Hide elastic inside the hem and stitch the opening closed.

Fit on your thumb and then repeat with remaining character masks!

Step 4: Arena Supplies

You don't need an arena to thumb wrestle but it does keep any opponent that has a larger hand than you from cheating and it makes the thumb war a bit more official! This is also good if you are playing with kids.

-4 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch piece of 1/4 inch birch plywood
-one - 1/2 inch wooden dowel cut to 4 1/2 inches long
-four - 1/4 inch wooden dowels cut to 1 inch long
-drill and 1/2 inch drill bit and 1 1/4 inch router bit
-measuring tape
-miter box and saw
-sand paper
-hot glue gun
-fabric or paper to cover the arena
-elmers glue - not sure why I have a glue stick in the picture!
-metallic embroidery thread

I happened to have a piece of plywood that was exactly the size I needed so I didn't have to use a skill saw which scares me so I was happy. If you don't have this wood just sitting around you will need to get it cut in some manner. Use caution and all safety gear when using a saw or drill or any other potentially dangerous equipment.

Divide square in quarters diagonally to find the middle. Using a drill and 1/2 inch drill bit drill half way through the plywood to make a hole for the handle of the arena.

Measure in one inch from two opposite corners. Then measure in 3/4 inch from that mark to get the middle of where the 1 1/2 inch hole will be. Using a 1 1/2 inch router bit drill the holes that will be for your thumbs in final arena.

I'm not an expert with a router bit and my wood splintered pretty badly but it didn't matter since the surface will be covered anyway! Yay for me!

Sand any rough edges.

Using a miter box and saw, saw the dowels to sizes listed above. Sand rough edges because you used the dullest saw in the world!!!!

Clean up work surface and head inside to complete the arena.

Step 5: Arena Finishing

Using fabric or paper (fabric was much harder than paper) cover the arena surface. Start by cutting a piece of fabric that is 4 3/4 inches square in the color of your choice.

Cut tiny squares out of all of the corners so you can fold the fabric over the edges. Using elmers glue, glue the tiny cut-outs onto the corners of the plywood in case your cutting isn't perfect!

Lay fabric under the plywood and trace around the holes. Cut the holes in the fabric like a pie so you can wrap them underneath the bottom of the arena keeping a neat edge.

Glue fabric to the right side of the plywood. Fold edges over and secure with glue also.

Cut a contrasting color of fabric that is 1/4 inch thick that will fit all the way around the outside edge of the arena. I had to use two separate pieces. Secure with glue. Do the same on the inside edge of the thumb holes.

Cover the handle dowel by wrapping it with fabric and gluing leaving a 1/8-1/4 inch space at the top for where you will glue it into the plywood making the handle.

Repeat with the side post dowels but do not leave a space at the top. Cut small 1/4 inch circles of contrasting fabric to cover the tops of the dowels. Secure with glue.

Using a hot glue gun secure covered side post dowels onto the corners of the arena.

Cut and tie two pieces of metallic embroidery thread long enough to fit snugly around the side posts.

Finally glue the handle in the bottom hole of the arena. Let sit until glue is dry and let war begin!

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Epilog Challenge V

Participated in the
Epilog Challenge V