Making puppets is a great project for a theatre, playwriting or fiction class. There are all sorts of birds you can make into puppets -- from owls to pigeons -- or just simple generic-looking birds. You can use bright colours and create hand puppets with small beaks, large beaks, fabric beaks or foam beaks. You don't need lots of sewing experience to make a puppet. If you want to wing it and sew the whole thing freehand without pinning or drawing lines, you'll end up with an imperfect bird puppet that has lots of character.
Things you need
- Cotton fabric
- 2 Buttons
- Cotton wool balls
Fold a 25 by 15 cm (10 by 6 inch) piece of cotton fabric in half, inside out. The fold should be at the top. The open end should be at the bottom.
Cut out the shape of a light bulb for the head of the bird with a sideways "V" for the beak on the left side, leaving a 6.5 mm (1/4 inch) seam allowance around the head. The head should be 8.75 cm (3 1/2 inches) wide. The beak should be 5 cm (2 inches) long. The flat bottom of the light bulb, which will serve as the neck of the bird, should be 6.25 cm (2 1/2 inches) wide and 3.75 cm (1 1/2 inches) high.
Sew the two pieces of fabric together, inside out, with the needle and thread, leaving the same seam allowance around the head, sewing the beak closed, but leaving the neck open.
Fold the larger piece of fabric in half, inside out. Cut it in half.
Cut out the body with the seam allowance around it. The body should be shaped like a gingerbread man that's missing its head and legs. The arms of the gingerbread man should extend out and end in a rounded point to form the wings of the bird puppet. Make sure there is a neck coming out of the top of the body. The body should be 17.5 cm (7 inches) wide across the bottom and 28.75 cm (11 1/2 inches) wide from the tip of one wing to the tip of the other.
Sew the two pieces of fabric together with the seam allowance, stopping at the side of the neck, not sewing the neck or the bottom of the body closed.
Turn the bird's head right side out. The beak can be stubborn and you may need to use your finger to poke it and turn it right side out. Sew buttons on to either side of the head, above the beak, for eyes.
Pull four cotton wool balls apart. Stuff them inside the head.
Push the head upside down into the inside out body, lining the two sides of the neck up and facing the beak forward. The seam on the bird's head will be running through the beak. The seam for the bird's body will not run in the same direction.
Sew the head onto the neck with the needle and thread, leaving the seam allowance.
Turn the puppet's body right side out.
Tips and warnings
- You can make a beak out of make-up wedges or two fingers from a washing-up glove instead of fabric.
- You can add feathers to your bird with a glue gun or use a fabric with a feather print.