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I met Autumn through her Shoeboxes All Year Long page on Facebook. She focuses her charity work for Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts and shares her shopping tips and crafts on her page. She designed these cuddly hand puppets and agreed to share her Tutorial and Patterns with us!
Autumn found fleece on sale and designed her first-hand puppet – a pink pig. It was so adorable and fun – she couldn’t stop! She ended up designing EIGHT different varieties based on the same basic pattern!
Autumn’s Hand Puppets TUTORIAL:
To begin: Download and print out the patterns for the Hand Puppets (found at the end of this post). Fleece (like THIS pink one from Amazon) is a wonderful material to work with. It is very forgiving, sews easily, doesn’t fray, and is very stretchy and flexible.
The main puppet body is larger than an 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet, so you will have to print, cut out and tape it together. I recommend making cardboard patterns if you plan to make multiples.
The puppet begins with the same body – simply change the color of the fleece, the shape of the ears or enlarge the nose and you have a different animal. I would love to see your finished products and any new critters you come up with! If you are new to sewing or want to mass produce I recommend starting with the duck since he doesn’t have ears.
Follow These Steps:
1) Trace the pattern onto the fleece. Cut two bodies and whichever accessory you want for your puppet.
2) Stitch ears right sides together if your puppet has them. Turn and lightly stuff (with batting or scrap fleece) if desired.
3) If the animal has a “snout” I zigzag stitched the snout pieces together and straight stitched the nostril lines.
4) Sew or appliqué face (and/or snout) pieces to the right side of the front of the puppet body. (add the white body front if you are making the penguin.)
5) Attach the eyes or embroider eyes. (I hand sewed buttons as the eyes. If the buttons are too thick this may have to be done after assembly. You could also use sequins, or markers and fabric paint instead for your puppet design.)
6) Take both body pieces and place them right sides together sandwiching the ears between the layers. (If they have ears.) Pinning the ears is recommended as they tend to shift. Baste the head together and turn to check ears are positioned properly (I didn’t figure this out for several puppets and fleece is difficult to rip the seams).
7) Stitch around the edge of the puppet.
8) Roll bottom edge up 1/4-1/2 inch and stitch for a finished edge on the bottom of the puppet. This can be a bit tricky. You could also use a pinking sheer instead, or cut very neatly – remember fleece doesn’t fray!
9) Snip corners where the arm and head meet.
10) Turn puppet right side out and smile at your cute creation! Think how happy the child will be who receives it will be!
SPECIAL NOTES for making these HAND PUPPETS:
For the DUCK: Stitch the duckbill like an ear, turning and lightly stuffing it. Zigzag stitch it to the face with the beak pointing up toward the top of the head. Push the beak down and stitch a couple of times at the corner of the beak and this helps it lay properly.
For the BUNNY: Ears are pinched/folded at the base of the ear. I folded the rabbit ears where I wanted them and sewed them across the bottom before I attached them to the head. The rabbit ears have one pink side and one body-colored side. He has a pompom tail glued to the back (let dry overnight and use Elmer’s glue, not super glue).
For the DOG: The tooth gets tucked under the muzzle for a rabbit.
For the FROG: Place the frog eyes on top of the rounded head and cut out as part of the body. All other accessory pieces cut 1 each and appliqué to face.
For the OWL: Place owl head over the rounded head and cut out as a complete body piece.
CLICK THE FILES BELOW – and save the patterns for the HAND PUPPETS to your computer.
(These downloads are pdf. files that you can print.)
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Thank you, I am looking at perhaps doing the shoe box puppets with my class.
That sounds like a great idea Linda! I’m sure the children would love it!
Having fun making these for my 2 grandsons. made the duck, owl, penguin, and frog for Christmas. They love them. I made a ring tailed lemur for the grandson who just had a birthday. Now I have requests from them for a black bear and a purple dog. Would you please explain the ears for both the dog and the bear. Is the muzzle stuffed? Thanks so much!
Rita I’m so glad your grandchildren love them! Great idea with the lemur! The ears and muzzle are not stuffed. They get fluffy simply because fleece is fluffy itself and so when sewn seem to take on a rounded shape. The earns on the bunny have a slight tuck or pinch in the middle to curve them a tiny bit, but that isn’t necessary.
I’ve made the pig and dog puppets and they’re great! I’d like to make the penguin but am unsure about how to do the beak. any help would be appreciated’ Thank you so much for the patterns.
The beak is actually flat – cut out the diamond shape and either satin stitch all around, or hand stitch. It is very similar to the Owl beak as well. Only the duck beak is stuffed. I’m glad you are having fun with them!!
Thank you for you’re help. Using your pattern I designed a monkey puppet, I used the top of a shot glass for the ear pattern.He’s so cute.I’ll post a picture later. Thanks again for sharing your pattern, I appreciate it. Deb
It’s such a versitile puppet pattern. What a great idea to make a monkey! Definitely lots of fun changing things up.
Definitely going to try these. I make blanks, dolls and hats for preemies and babies at Children’s Hospital and hats for the older kids. I think they will enjoy having these hand puppets to play with. Thanks for the directions!
These are great. I am making them for my granddaughter for Christmas this year. The pig has ears but there is no pattern for them. I could probably wing it but thought I would ask about them first. Thanks,
THANK YOU so very much for an easy way to print patterns… many times you are forced jump through so many hoops just to get something simple. My 3 year old great grandson was recently separated from his mother and his dad and think puppets can help him express himself and enjoy playtime as well. Again thank you.
It must be a very difficult time for your great grandson. I have seen puppets being a wonderful tool for children to express their challenging emotions and thoughts. And you’re right many websites make you sign up for emails, etc. before allowing free prints – I hate pop-ups ads and those email lists myself and vowed I’d never do that!