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How to make hand puppets

Updated February 21, 2017

Inventing their own puppet shows is great entertainment for kids of all ages. And, although hand puppets are readily available at any toy store, it's lots of fun---and much less expensive--to create simple hand puppets, which can be decorated to serve as nearly any character or animal. You might consider stitching up a complete set of puppets modelled on the characters on a child's favourite storybook or make a half-dozen in a variety of colours and present to children along with a box full of trimmings so that your child can have the fun of decorating the puppets themselves.

Copy pattern (see illustration) and enlarge to appropriate size; very small children have difficulty handling puppets that are too large. You can draw around their hand or use one of their mittens as a size guide. For older children, the puppet should be approximately 8 to 9 inches tall.

Pin pattern onto one piece of felt and draw around the pattern with chalk. Carefully cut out the felt following the chalk lines. Repeat with the other piece of felt.

Turn the chalk sides in (so they won't show), and sew carefully around the edges, leaving the bottom open. Of course, a sewing machine will do a quicker job, but it is perfectly fine to sew these by hand; just make sure you take very small stitches.

Make hair for your puppets from yarn. Cut fifteen (or more) 3-inch pieces of yarn; use one of the pieces to tie the other pieces into a little bundle. Stitch this to the top of the puppet's head for a boy puppet. To make a girl puppet's hair, cut twenty-two 7-inch pieces of yarn; remove one piece. Divide the remaining yarn in three and braid. Tie ribbon bows at the ends of the braids. Stitch the braided hair to the puppet's head.

Add facial features. To create eyes, you can use doll eyes from a craft store, or simply cut pieces of scrap felt from the other puppets. Noses can also be cut from felt, or you can sew on a little bead.

Make clothes by cutting simple jackets or dresses from felt (as shown by the dotted lines on the illustration). Glue these directly to the puppets. Add small beads or buttons if you wish.

Tip

Design animal puppets by sewing on felt pieces to create a dog's ears, pig's snout, a lion's mane, and so on.

Warning

Avoid using beads, which can easily become dislodged, on puppets for small children.

Things You'll Need

  • (For six puppets)
  • 12 8 by 10-inch squares of felt (two each of six colours)
  • Chalk
  • Pattern (see illustration)
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine (or needle and thread)
  • Glue
  • Assorted trims, such as yarn, doll eyes, lace, felt scraps, small buttons and beads
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About the Author

Peggy Epstein is a freelance writer specializing in education and parenting. She has authored two books, "Great Ideas for Grandkids" and "Family Writes," and published more than 100 articles for various print and online publications. Epstein is also a former public school teacher with 25 years' experience. She received a Master of Arts in curriculum and instruction from the University of Missouri.