Monday, March 4, 2013

It's Showtime! Make Your Own Hand Puppets

It has been a while since my last post. I have been very busy with an extra special project. My daughter turned 4 last week and my husband got the bright idea that we should build her a puppet theater for her birthday. And of course she couldn't have a puppet theater without puppets. So I got to work on the puppets and he started plotting the theater.

Today I am just going to talk about the puppets. I will do another post later about the theater. I turned out really cool and our daughter loves it.

I started with a pattern for the puppets from Just Another Day in Paradise. They have really cute patterns for farm animal puppets but I thought my daughter would enjoy playing with a princess puppet more so I just used the body as an outline. It is a really good size for preschooler sized hands, but I think in the future I will make them a little bigger so it is easier for my husband to play too.

Some of you parents out there might recognize this tiger in the picture. Ever since the show Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood started on PBS last year, my daughter has loved it. All she wanted for Christmas was a Daniel Tiger toy. But with the show being brand new, there aren't toys available yet. So when I decided to make puppets I knew I had to make one to look like him.

I just did a Google image search for "Daniel Tiger" and tried to copy what I saw. I knew he would need his signature red hoodie. And I did my best to make his facial features the same. I was so happy when my daughter opened the box of puppets on her birthday and knew that it was Daniel Tiger.

Next I knew I needed to make a princess. My daughter loves everything princess. Cinderella is her favorite and blue is her favorite color so I knew the princess had to wear a blue dress. But as we are playing puppet theater, the princess has been used in plenty of other stories besides Cinderella.

I added the crown after the princess was all stitched together so that it could stick up a little.

As for the prince, I looked at pictures of the prince from Cinderella to decide how I was going to make him. I used a reverse chain stitch to make the detail on his shirt. And I used the long french knot to make his tassels.

I only had time for one more. I had plenty of ideas: a witch, a monkey, a dragon. But I decided to make a lion. I just loved the idea of the big mane.

To make the mane, I just took two stripes of brown felt, folded it in half (hot dog style) and cut little notches.  I started at the top and worked my way down leaving a little space by the fold. Then I knotted the notches together. I glued them into place after I sewed together the front and the back of the lion, but I need to go back and add some stitches to really secure it. in place.

Tips and Trick:

I used felt glue to secure the felt pieces in place. After the glue dried (it only tastes a few minutes) I went back and hand stitched them in place.

You will want a good pair of sewing scissors as you try to cut all felt.

If you are not an expert at adding the little touches of embroidery (I know I am not), Sarah's Hand Embroidery Tutorials is a great resource. It has pictures of each step for a ton of stitches. I would looks at her picture dictionary and pick out the stitches that I thought would look best.

Bring out the hair more because you will lose some when you sew the seems. It you look at the picture of the prince, you can see what I mean. His hair is a little thin on the sides.

Put all your detail pieces in place and secured then put your right sides together and use your sewing machine to stitch them together. Look at both sides to make sure you didn't miss anything. Trim the edges and flip. You will want make sure everything is secure before flipping so you don't have to keep going back and forth.

These might take some time to make, but they are a toy that your children will treasure.  And if you want to fill out your collection of puppets, I found some at the Dollar Tree. I found a frog, a bunny, a duck, a bear, and an elephant. Not bad for a buck each.

Here is a sneak of the puppet theater. I promise to show you how at a later date.

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