Friday, July 13, 2012

People Hand Puppets

For my last installment in the Puppet series, here are the people hand puppets!  For the puppet theatre and the animal puppets, see here and here.  When I was little, I had some hand puppets made by my parents.  (I come from a long line of crafty folks!)  My sister actually kept those puppets, so I asked her to mail them to me so I could use them as a go-by for making some for the clever girl.  Let me tell you, the puppets my parents made were seriously groovy.  I mean, without giving away too much, my sister and I played with these puppets in the 1970s, so you can just imagine what they looked like!  But one thing I really loved is that the girl puppet had big loop earrings and I thought that was just fantastic.  I still do, actually.  Those puppets were TINY.  I can scarcely get my hand into them now, so I knew I needed to make these puppets bigger so I could play with them too!

Thus started the puppet making process!  First I picked out some fun material for the bodies.  I used decorator fabric samples.  You could use any fabric, though I would shy from anything too thin.  You want them to be somewhat sturdy so you can really play!  For the insides of their mouths, I used a thin denim for 2 and a brown broadcloth for the other.  The tongues are a dark red felt.  Then I pulled out my button stash and picked out buttons for eyes.  Above you see the basic supplies.

The first thing I did was glue on the hair.  I used a variety of different yarn for the hair, and glued it on with Fabri-Tac.  I used one long piece of yarn that I looped over the glue line as close together as I could, starting and ending about 1/4 inch from the edges.  After the yarn was glued, I snipped all of the loops to make hair.  You could certainly do the hair after you sew the puppet together.  I did it first so it would give me perspective as to where to sew on the eyes.  You want to sew the eyes on before you sew it together otherwise the buttons would be too hard to sew on!  So after the hair came the eyes!

I put the tongue into the mouth by cutting a slit the width of the tongue in the center of the mouth and gluing the tongue down to the front (just a little, not the entire length of the tongue) and back of the mouth fabric.  I sewed 1/2 of a mouth circle to one puppet body.  You will note that my puppet mouth is a circle.  If you choose to make people puppets, make the mouth an OVAL.  This is because your 4 fingers are longer than your thumb, thus they need more space!  The fold of the mouth (where the tongue is) ended up a bit short on these, so they are a bit awkward for adult hands.  I will probably rip out the mouths and re-sew them, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.  I sewed all parts of the puppets with an over-cast stitch.

 Then I sewed the bottom half of the mouth to the other side of the puppet.  What you see is the wrong side of the puppet body.  After this, I sewed up the sides and turned the puppet right-side out.

 Now is the fun part!  Embellishing!  For this puppet, I made loopy earrings with key-rings on which I slid a red bead.  And I folded in the bottom of the puppet and sewed some rick-rack to the end, like a dress hem.

The puppet family!  The red puppet got short hair and glasses, made of key-rings and bent jewelry wire.  The green puppet got more fancy loop earrings with plastic green and blue beads.  I put the double-fold seam tape along the edges so I didn't have to hem them and create extra bulk.

These puppets are a HUGE hit.  When I first decided that puppets were the theme of this year's birthday for the clever girl, Mr. Clever Mom didn't understand why she needed more than 2 puppets.  She only has 2 hands, he said.  Obviously, he did not do puppet shows as a child!  Honestly, I am not sure who gets more enjoyment out of the puppet theatre, the clever girl or Mr. Clever Mom!  They have a blast, and I sure love watching them!


  1. Abbie wants to know when she can come over to play with the puppets - or when I can make one for her! :)

    1. She can come any time - but it is a rather long commute to get here! You could totally make these!

  2. Those puppets are just as cute as the ones we had when we were little. Ditto about the earings. You do an amazing job for the clever girl.


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