Hand sewing can be a delightful and relaxing experience. It's great to sit back in the couch, put on a movie or podcast and work on a project without the loud hum of the machine or constant dodging of the needle with your fingers. And handmade gifts are the most treasured.
I love to make puppets as gifts for children because they encourage interaction, imagination and creativity. One of my favorite TV shows as a small child was Mister Rogers Neighborhood, and I was especially fond of all the interesting puppets and colorful sets in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. Fred Rogers' legacy of fostering curiosity and approaching tough subjects faced by kids with candor and gentleness is celebrated in his and my hometown of Pittsburgh.
I hope you enjoy making these puppets as much as I have.
-Pinking shears (for X the Owl)
-Disappearing ink fabric pen
-Printer & paper
-Felt (8x12" sheets found at craft stores)
Since many of the pieces are small, you can share felt sheets among the three puppets, so only put one on your shopping list. Ignore the notes about sharing if you are only making one of the puppets.
Daniel Striped Tiger
- 2 light brown
- 1 medium brown
- 1 light pink (can share with X the Owl & King Friday)
- 1 yellow/gold (can share with X the Owl & King Friday)
- 1 light green
- 1 black (can share with X the Owl & King Friday)
- 1 white (can share with X the Owl & King Friday)
X the Owl
- 2 dark blue
- 1 medium blue (can share with King Friday)
- 1 light blue
- 1 light pink (can share with Daniel Striped Tiger & King Friday)
- 1 yellow/gold (can share with Daniel Striped Tiger & King Friday)
- 1 white (can share with Daniel Striped Tiger & King Friday)
- 1 black (can share with Daniel Striped Tiger & King Friday)
- 2 medium blue (can share with X the Owl)
- 1 light beige
- 1 yellow/gold (can share with Daniel Striped Tiger & X the Owl)
- 1 white (can share with Daniel Striped Tiger & X the Owl)
- 1 dark purple
- 1 black (can share with Daniel Striped Tiger & X the Owl)
-Embroidery Floss to match felt (regular 6 strand, not perle which is twistier and shinier):
Daniel Striped Tiger
- light brown
- medium brown
- light green
X the Owl
- dark blue
- medium blue
- light blue
- light pink
- medium blue
- light pink
- light beige
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Step 1: Print and Prepare Pattern
This pattern can be printed on standard 8.5x11 paper for kid-sized puppets. It can be enlarged and printed on 11.5x16.5 paper if grown-ups want to join in on the fun.
Carefully cut out pattern pieces with regular scissors along the solid black lines. If you plan to make more than one of the puppets, be sure to keep each puppets' pieces separate.
Each pattern piece is labelled with the color and amount. Pin pattern pieces to the correct color felt and trace with a disappearing ink fabric pen, which can be found at most craft stores. Cut the felt pieces with fabric scissors. Fold the felt and cut a double layer for multiple pieces. Spray the disappearing ink with water to erase lines.
Step 2: Learn the Back Stitch
Separate the embroidery floss so that each strand is made up of three smaller strands. This will make it easier to work with and your stitches will look neater. Cut the floss the length of your fingertips to your elbow, which will prevent tangling while you sew.
Throughout most of the project, I use a back stitch to attach the pattern pieces and make connected and continuous lines. I generally trace the outline of whichever piece I'm attaching. Since the back side of the work tends not to be too pretty when using a back stitch, I use a simple running stitch to sew the whole body together when the other side will be visible. You can do another running stitch overlapping to fill in the gaps if you want a consistent continuous look. If you are new to embroidery, read on. If you are already familiar with the back stitch, continue to the next step.
The Back Stitch
Cut a length of floss, knot the end and thread it through a needle. Create one basic stitch and then bring your needle up again through to the front one stitch length away from the last stitch. Poke your needle back through the second hole of the first stitch to make a continuous line.
Step 3: Assemble & Stitch Daniel Striped Tiger
1. Place the cheeks onto one piece of the body and pin. Place the snout and nose bridge onto the cheeks. Place the nose on the snout. Sew the nose on with pink thread.
Place the watch band onto the wrist and sew with black thread.
Place the pupils onto the eyes and sew with black thread,
2. Sew the inner edges of the snout and nose bridge with black thread.
Place the watch rim onto the watch band and sew with gold thread.
3. Sew the cheeks onto the body with light brown thread.
4. Place the eyes on the upper corners of the nose bridge and sew with light green thread.
5. With black thread, trace the bottom of the nose. Transfer the mouth shape from the body pattern piece onto the snout with a disappearing ink pen and sew along the lines.
6. Place the white watch face onto the gold watch rim. Pull the needle from the bottom through the center of the watch face. Create a French Knot.
- Hold the thread taut a few inches away with your non-dominant hand.
- Hold the needle with your dominant hand and wrap thread around needle 3-4 times.
- Push needle back through the same hole.
Create watch hands with 2 stitches.
7. Place stripes on head, arms and body. Sew with medium brown thread.
8. Pin front body to back body. Make 3 stitches with black thread on each paw to create toes.
9. Pin ears in between front & back body. Use a running stitch to sew body along edges with light brown thread.
Step 4: Assemble & Stitch X the Owl
1. Place the horns on the head of one piece of the body. Sew lower edge with medium blue thread.
Place side & middle chin feathers on narrow part of the neck and sew upper edges with light blue thread.
2. Pinch nose in half lengthwise to create dimension and sew an 'x' on each upper corner with gold thread.
Place dark blue body feathers toward the bottom of the wings and using dark blue thread, attach at top point with three small stitches.
3. Match the head feather to the point above the horns and sew the bottom edge with light blue thread.
Spread the medium blue body feathers along the wings, edge and center of the body. Using medium blue thread, attach at top point with three small stitches.
4. Place eyeballs in the centers of outer eyes. Cut pink eyelid pieces in half. Discard bottom halves and place top halves on white eyeballs; sew along arch with light pink thread. Place pupils underneath eyelids and sew along arch with black thread. Place eyelashes over eyelids and pupils. You may want to add a dab of craft glue to keep them in place while you sew them with dark blue lines.
5. Place entire eye pieces on either side of the head. Arrange middle and outer eye feathers around eyeball and pin or glue. With light blue thread, sew a circle around the eyeballs, making sure to attach eye feathers.
Place light blue body feathers underneath chin feathers with points close together and attach with three small stitches using light blue thread.
6. Place front body on top of back body and pin. Fold the head feather over the back of the body. Sew a running stitch along the top with light blue thread.
7. Using dark blue thread, sew the front and back body together with a running stitch.
Step 5: Assemble & Stitch King Friday
1. Place forehead onto one head and sew top & bottom edges with light beige thread.
Place beard onto bottom of head so none of the head shows through the bottom and sew top edge with white thread.
Place cheeks on either side of head just above beard and sew with light pink thread.
2. Place the nose at the end of the nose bridge and sew with light beige thread.
3. Place the eyebrows on the forehead and sew with white thread.
Place eyelids underneath eyebrows and sew with light beige thread.
Place mustache under nose & cheeks and sew with white thread.
4. Place eyeballs under eyelids and layer pupils on top. With black thread, sew pupils through all layers.
Pin the face to one piece of the body. The beard and mustache should overlap the body. Sandwich epaulets between the face and body so that they stick out and sew them onto the body with gold thread.
5. Attach the face to the front body by tracing the bottom of the beard with white thread.
6. Create a 'U' shape on the front of the body using gold thread and a chain stitch. Set aside.
Layer purple cape, the blue back of the body and the back of the head. Make sure they will line up with the front and pin. Following the lower curve of the head, chain stitch another 'U' shape with gold thread through the three layers to join them together.
- Bring your needle up through the front and down into the same hole, making a small loop.
- Bring your needle back up through the center of the loop to catch it.
- Continue the chain by pushing your needle through the center of the previous loop and out the other side, as pictured.
- Loop the excess thread underneath your needle and pull.
7. Layer the following pieces starting from the bottom: back crown (band & top), hair, back head, front head, & front crown (band & top) and pin. Hair should be visible from the sides of the head, but not above the crown. Sew along the edges of the crown with gold thread using a running stitch, making sure all layers are incorporated.
8. Sew front and back of the head together (excluding hair) with light beige thread.
Pin front and back body together, and pin hands in between. Sew the edges of the body together with blue thread.
Step 6: Make Believe!
Runner Up in the
Soft Toys Challenge
Runner Up in the
Sewn By Hand Challenge
Participated in the
Homemade Gifts Contest 2016