03 June 2009

and just in case...

For those folks who don't have the time to make a fingerpuppet but still want one, I just put up a few batches of puppets at my etsy shop.

02 June 2009

warm fuzzy mammal finger puppets - the tutorial

Hi folks! Wanna make a lamby finger puppet? Or a squirrel? Or a mouse? Here's how:

First off, you'll need this handy-dandy pattern* which I drew up:


Now, as far as materials go, you'll need:

  • tissue paper for tracing the pattern pieces
  • felt (pieces should be at least 4 x 6 inches in size)
  • scraps of fabric no smaller than 2 x 4 inches
  • stuffing material (I prefer Polyfil, but you can use wool or cotton - whatever suits you best)
  • for the eyes - buttons, discs of felt, beads, or plastic safety eyes
  • embroidery floss for the face details
1. Trace the shapes on the pattern PDF* onto a piece of tracing paper and cut those out. Next, pin the cut pieces to your felt and fabric and cut out the number of parts as indicated for each puppet. Note: You do not need to add an allowance as a 1/4 inch allowance has already been included in the pattern. Essentially, you'll need 2 felt parts for the body and 1 fabric head panel for each puppet, plus details. Your puppet parts should look like this:

...for the lamb.

...for the squirrel.

...for the mouse.

2. Pin the ears to the body as follows:

For the lamb, pin the ears with the edges facing the bottom of the puppet with the tips pointing to the front, like so:

For the squirrel, make sure the edges face forward:

For the mouse, pin the ears with the edges facing the bottom:

Before you sew, make sure that all your ears look like this:

ears should look like this when pinned before sewing

3. Now we can start sewing. When sewing, allow yourself a 1/4 inch allowance. Sew the fabric head panel with the right side of the fabric facing down along the top of one felt body piece starting with the nose, sewing along to the back of the head, like so:

4. Sew the other side of the head to the other side of the body (sewing from the back of the head to the nose would make this part easier now). Remember to pull the pins from the ears and tuck in the ears before closing the head so that they don't get caught in the seam when you sew the front edge:

Now sew the two parts of the body together starting at the nose and proceeding along the front edge of the body to the bottom:

5. Flip the puppet over and sew the back. For the squirrel, now is the time to attach the tail. Roll up & pin the tip of the tail so that you can easily fit it in the body:

Now sandwich the tail in the body with the rolled up & pinned tip in towards the center of the puppet's body. You want just a little bit of the base of the tail to stick out from in between the two felt pieces for the body:

Now sew up the back, and you're done with the sewing part! We're almost done now.

Quick thing! Don't forget to pull the pin out of the squirrel tail before you do anything else; that's a lesson I learned the hard way:

7. Carefully trim the rounded parts of the head and the parts where the head and body join with little 1/8 inch cuts. Be very careful not to cut any of your seams:

8. Now carefully invert the puppets with the flat end of a pen or pencil. Be very patient; this part is tricky and a total pain in the butt. It is the only aspect of softie-making that I can honestly say I loathe. You want to nudge the puppets inside out very carefully and little by little. Take your time with it. If you push too hard or too fast, you might end up accidentally ripping the seams and undoing all your sewing or piercing through the felt or the fabric. So go slowly.

9. If you're using plastic safety eyes, put them on once the puppet in fully inverted because this next step is stuffing. Use wee pinch-sized clumps of stuffing and carefully press them into the head with your fingers or the flat end of a pen/pencil. Keep stuffing until the head is as firm as you would like it and so that you don't have an excess of stuffing sticking out of the head and into the puppet body.

10. Now detail your puppet. Stitch little faces on them with your embroidery floss. You can even use markers or puff paint or whatever to decorate them. Do what you like. Have fun with it!

Happy puppet making, people!

* The not-so-fine print: This pattern is for entertainment purposes only. You can make as many finger puppets as you'd like and distrubute them to family & friends & your kids & your neighbors' kids & your students and such, but please do not sell the items made from this pattern. Same thing goes for the pattern itseslf. Share it with as many people as you want to, but please do not charge for the pattern nor pass it off as your own. I feel yucky mentioning it, but them's the rules and it has to be said. Thanks!