Even though we’ve been designing animal hand puppet patterns since 2014, it wasn’t until 2019 that we designed a human type puppet pattern. Up until then, we focused on animal hand puppet sewing patterns. In all honesty, it took me that long to figure out how to create a human puppet pattern. Making most animal patterns is easy, because animals have muzzles. The hand operating the puppet fits perfectly in the muzzle. Humans really don’t have muzzles to put a hand in. Our mouths are inside our heads, not an extension like animals or birds.
Years ago, I started out making my own “muppety style” of human puppets. I used foam to construct the head and plastic to support the mouth. Then covered everything with fleece.
I made “Rosie” to be my spokes puppet for my YouTube sewing tutorials. She is big….almost the size of a 3 year old. She is also really heavy. And she can’t be washed due to the foam and plastic. I really wanted to create a puppet pattern that used only fleece and felt. Then it would be light weight and washable.
I seemed to attempt the person puppet pattern every year. I wasn’t successful in making a human, but I did come up with some interesting creations. Some were really bizarre and some I adapted into animal patterns.
In fact, that is where the goose came from. It was a failed human experiment. When I sewed the pieces together, I had an almost perfect goose! After each endeavor, I would shelve the human puppet idea and create more animals.
Finally, something clicked in 2019. The turning point was when I discovered stiffened felt. I’m sure it was always at my local craft store, but I finally ran across it one day while shopping for felt squares. I had been using and recommending regular felt for the inside of the mouth for the animals. Regular felt works great for animals, but it isn’t stiff enough to support the mouth for a human type puppet. The stiffened felt is the perfect stiffness plus it is easy to sew with. Once that piece of the puzzle was solved, it didn’t take long for me to come up with the pattern.
I’m really happy that the years of frustration and experimentation finally paid off. It appears that the person puppet is a big hit. It’s my current best seller after dethroning the bird pattern. In celebration, the person puppet will be half off for the month of April. Now is the perfect time to pick up this pattern and create your own character.