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1  Muppet Style Puppet Tutorial in Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects by bedalton on: January 13, 2012 06:57:53 PM
I've decided to share the process and pattern I used when creating this puppet.

Let me begin by stating that I am not an expert. I have limited experience with puppet making, but thought others might like a place to start. I must also say, I've never written a tutorial, and do not know if this will be easy to follow, and/or accurate. I make no guarantee that this tutorial will work out for you. It's simply what I did. Follow at your own risk.

I've included the pattern I used for my second puppet Sandwich, Seen here. The pattern is for the basic head shape only. I free handed the nose, ears and hair. I drafted the pattern myself, and it is not guaranteed to be perfect. I created the pattern from a low polygon model, whose edges I tried to unify and smooth. The results were less than satisfactory, and the head, when put together, looks somewhat octagonal from the top. I covered the head with hair, so you can't tell.

This pattern is for personal use only. I just wanted to give a little back to the community.

Before we start I thought I would list the supplies needed for the head.

1. The Pattern (Fixed: 05.12.2013)
2. 1/2 inch Foam - The Foam I buy is 24" wide, and for this pattern you need a little less than a yard.
3. A sheet of something hard and water resistant.
  a. A sheet of plastic
  b. I saw someone use corrugated plastec
  b. I use a piece of heavy cardboard that I had left over from a drawing pad. This of course is not water resistant, but it has worked well for me so far.
  c. Some people say you can use gasket rubber for a more flexible mouth, but I have never used it.

3. Cutting Utensil
  a.Rotary Cutters are best. I use a small rotary cutter I bought just for this purpose. You will not want to use your fabric ones, as the foam dulls the blades.
  b. Exacto knives and box cutters - These tend to rip the foam as you go. Use light strokes and make multiple passes if this is the route you want to go.
  c. Scissors - Scissors smash the foam and and cause the edges to be cut at weird angles. These angles will affect the shape of your puppet.
4. Pins

For Glueing
1. Contact Cement - I buy the red can of Weldwood Contact Cement. There is a less flammable version, but it takes over twice as long to dry.
2. Something to spread the glue out with. I use scrap pieces of foam. The glue is likely to ruin the brush, so choose wisely.
3. Something to deal with glue on hands
  a. Disposable gloves - recommended
  b. Tough skin if you plan to rub the glue off
  c. Naptha - This is what I use, but I must advise against it. It states clearly on the bottle to avoid contact with skin as it can cause irritation. A second reason is you do not want to rub your eyes or touch your food when you have naphtha on your hands. I use it as it works best for me and I haven't had a chance to buy more gloves. As per the label, I thoroughly wash my hands with soap and water. To prevent skin drying out, I also put lotion on.

For skinning the head.
5. Spray Adhesive
6. Some fleece for the inside of the mouth and the head.
7. Some fabric for the hair. I used a brown fur that my friend found for me at the Joanns nearby.
8. Needle and thread. Buy thread that matches your base skin fabric.

The Start
1. To start with, print, cut and assemble the pattern. I like to use card stock as it holds its shape better and doesn't get soggy when tracing.
3. Trace the main and mouth foam patterns twice each. Be sure to use the "Mouth Foam" pattern and not the "Mouth Fleece and Board" pattern. When tracing, use a light marker as these marks can sometimes shine through.  The main head pattern can be mirrored along one end. If you do, mark the center line. You will also want to flip the pattern each trace to help ensure the marked edges are placed inside.
2. Cut out the foam. At this point I like to make light lines on the edges that I need to make sure I do not glue.

Glueing the Main Head
1. After marking the edges, it's time to glue. Apply glue only to the sides, not the top or bottom.
This glue is messy, and really sticks to everything, including hands. If you choose to use gloves now is the time to put them on.
They say you do not need a lot of glue, and I find this to be true. I use just enough to slightly discolor the foam and make it shinier. Be sure you have an even coat over the sides. To help in glueing, I fold the edges together and then glue.

2. Waiting. You must wait for contact cement to dry before actually glueing the edges together. The can will give you the estimated drying time. Here it takes between ten and fifteen minutes.

3. After the glue is dried, it is time to glue the edges together. Place only a minimal amount of pressure here. This helps in case you make a mistake and need to try again.
I start at the ends and push them together lightly.

I then move to the middle of the seam and again push the edges lightly together.

The reason for spreading out the initial seal throughout the seam is to help make sure the edges line up. If you glue the seam from one end to the other, the ends might not line up. When glueing it is important to make sure that the foam matches up height wise. You do not want one side to stick up higher than the other. Keep the planes flush.
Also, Try to form the shape with the side you traced upon on the inside.

NOTE: You must ensure that you do not squish the sides, as they will compress wafer thin, and you will not be able to glue them together.

UPDATE:: Updated the way I do mouth boards.
I've changed the way I do mouth boards. The old way involved using board sandwiched between foam. The problem with this approach was that The mouth would not close completely at the lips. The new way I do it takes:
 - Gorilla tape
 - Foam
 - Board for mouth. I use corrugated plastic. Used for signs.
 - Glue
 - Stretchy fabric. (optional).

 1. Cut out 1 piece of mouth board, using the mouth board pattern. Cut along width line. Mark halves as 1 or 2 (For board only cut slightly smaller than pattern, about a 16th of an inch.).
 2. Repeat step 1, 2 times out of foam.
 3. Place mouth board pieces back into original shape. (figure A)
 4. Tape back together using gorilla tape. (figure B)
 5. Turn mouth board over, and dangle over edge of table. (figure C)
 6. Apply tape, and bend board completely together, with this side on outside. Work tape against side. (figure D)
 7. Glue one set of foam onto new mouth board, indented tape (figure E) facing foam (figure F).
::ALERT:: Be sure that foam extends past edge of board. Stretch foam if necessary. This should be a slight amount, roughly a 16th of an inch.

I started lining the inside of my mouths, making a sort of sleeve. Without one, the hand goes into the entire head, and the hand is touching foam. I like the way this feels.
   a. Cut out 2 arm segments, and the mouth liner, from any fabric that doesn't fray. I use a stretchy fabric, with the stretchy part going around the arm.
 b. Sew right sides together, with a 1/4" seam allowance. Trim closely to seam, do not turn inside out. Leave right sides together.
 c. Glue completed hand liner to foam. I glue only the outer 1/4" to keep it from making the fabric weird.(figure G).
 9. Apply glue to outer 1/4" of foam, and glue to top of mouth stack.

Figure H shows the new mouth. This mouth will close flush, and more easily than the old method.

Putting them Together
1. Apply 1/2 to 3/4 strip of glue inside the head around the mouth opening.

2. Mark the center points on the underside of the mouth piece, you will need this when assembling the head and mouth.
3. Apply glue along the side of the mouth board.
4, Wait for glue to dry.
5. This part is tricky. The mouth board is slightly larger than the mouth is meant for. This is to give the head a more interesting shape. Unfortunately, this makes things a bit more difficult for you. At this time bend the mouth only a minimal amount to get it into the head.
Align the corners of the mouth and press slightly. Now align the center marks on the mouth board with the seam line on the head. When the edges are properly lined up firmly press together to finish the seal.
*ALERT* it is very important that you get the mouth board perfectly in place. If you do not, the mouth will look off. I glued mine in slightly crooked and the dimple on one side of the mouth is noticeably larger than the one on the other.

Adding Ears and Nose
I did not provide a pattern for these parts as I did not use one. I simply created them as I went.
The ears and nose looked similar to this.


1. Trace and cut out the main pattern from the fleece of your choice, mirroring it along the straight edge.
2. Cut out the fleece for the inside of the mouth, using the Mouth Fleece and Board pattern.
Advisory: I do not recommend using felt as it tore as I was trying to sew it together.

3. Here you are going to follow the directions on your spray adhesive to glue the fabric to head fleece to the head. For the adhesive I have, I spray both sides, wait 15 seconds and then glue them together.
You're going to want to do this a little at a time. The head will be slightly larger than the fleece, so you must stretch the fleece as you go. Start in the front center and pull the fleece to the other seam lines. Continue to spray and stretch. If you do not stretch enough, the fleece will not fit. Do not completely glue down the edges of the fleece, as we will need to stitch them together.

To create the pattern for the ears, nose, hair and any other part not provided in the pattern, you have two options that I know of.
  A. Lay the fabric over the part to be covered and pinch and pin it into the correct shape. After pinning, mark and cut out the pattern. Here's a simple example on how I did my ears.

Here I'm doing the hair.

To simplify things, I used a scrap piece of fabric instead of the actual fur. It's important to create markers on the head that will help you line things up later.

I learned this technique from the Swazzle tutorial page found here.
They actually have a very good tutorial on this site that helped me out immensely, Here that is.

I suppose one could draw onto the heads fleece and cut it out as a pattern to use for the hair, but I have never done that. I've always just pinched, pinned and cut.

After you have your fleece cut out and glued into place, it's time to sew.
The Stitch I use is called the Henson Stitch. It's difficult to explain, So here's a youtube video of a guy explaining it. This is much easier to learn from, than the static webpage I learned from.

I glued my hair into place as I knew it would be too difficult to sew on. I glued a hem and then glued the hair into place, that way you don't see the edges of the fur.

Here's the head after stitching the top

2. At this point I put on the eyes. I used large black stuffed animal eyes that have the clip in the back. To put them on, I used an exact knife to cut a tiny hole through the fleece and foam. I then forced the eye through and clipped it into place.

Hope this works for you.
Sandwich signing off.

Update Pattern link, and updated mouth board directions.

Update: 05.12.2013:
Corrected and updated the Head pattern, which was originally incorrectly scaled.
*thank you to radioactivearachnid for pointing out the error.
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2  Muppet Style Puppet - FINISHED! Huzzah. (Image Heavy) in Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects by bedalton on: January 09, 2012 10:06:33 AM
This forum says completed projects, but I did not see a work in progress forum, perhaps a mod can move this there.

The Goods:
People I find like images first. So here we go.

And my second real puppet, Sandwich. A work in progress
Here he is all glued

Fitting the fleece

Fleece sewing in progress

The (long) Story:

About two years ago, I created a muppet style puppet. While trying to convince my non-crafty friend that he needed a hobby, he said that he would be interested in building a foam puppet. I've always thought that would would be neat too, so it was settled, we would each build a puppet. We found foam at a local craft store called Handcocks and purchased quite a bit of it. It was $10 a yard at the time, but we thought, or rather hoped, that it would be money well spent.

Foam in hand, we set off to find a pattern online a free pattern online. We failed and were just a bit discouraged. After much sadness, I remembered a technique I saw in a video tutorial. In high school I was interested in building a mascot head, and I watched this  girl build one without a pattern. (Here is the first part of her tutorial.). I never built the mascot head, but I stored the information just the same.

In the video, the girl uses hot glue, I did not however like this method as the bond wasn't strong, and it required moving faster than I was able. I read on a forum about using contact cement. Contact cement is a slow process, but it worked much better for me.  Before closing the seam, you must wait for the glue to dry, but when you press the edges together the seam is instant, no pinching and holding.

I do not think in three-dimensional seams and struggled greatly with building the head. It involved much trial and error, during which foam was removed, added, glued and repeated as necessary. It took many hours over many days, but it was worth it. Meatball was a success.

Unfortunately however, having free formed the puppet, the head was not exactly symmetrical and I had no pattern in which to replicate another puppet.

I've taken an animation class in which we learned 3d modeling, and I knew I could model the shape in my 3d program. The huge problem here was that I did not know how to make a flat pattern from it. I used various texturing tools, but they were not built for this purpose and produced terrible and unusable, results. I searched high and low, and found 2 programs that I thought would work.  One was Lectra's DesignConcept, and the second was Pepakura. DesignConcept is industry software, and I knew I could never justify it's hefty price tag. Pepakura however was a bit more affordable, though a bit more than I was hoping to pay.

Pepakura is for paper modeling, and as such cannot do smooth seams. I simplified my 3d geometry, and unfolded. The crude geometry led to heads with angular points. Though not perfect, the shapes produced were very much like I wanted.

I created several heads after Meatball, but none of which inspired me to put in the work to fleece and finish. There was one monster I did love, but I tried making the fleece pattern with as few seam lines as possible, and it became tedious and frustrating. I know now that what I was trying to do was impossible. If people could do it this way, they would. With school starting, and frustration plenty, I abandoned my puppet making.

A few days ago I finally saw the Muppet movie. I was hooked. Being a muppet of a man, I knew that I needed to make Meatball some friends.

I decided I wanted a more human character, and began to sketch up some ideas. After I settled on one, I modeled it in 3d and flattened it with Pepakura.

Having been away from puppet making for so long, I decided I wanted to refine my technique. I was determined not to have any pointy points on my puppet. To accomplish such a result, I imported the pattern into illustrator, and created curves. I have worked with  lines and curves since my initial build, and knew how to smooth the lines properly. I measured the lines in illustrator and created curves preserving line lengths and trying to maintain the general shape of the lines. I am pleased with the result.

I plan to update this thread as I go, and hope you will stay tuned.

The Future!

Having not had a pattern for my first puppet, I decided I would create a tutorial. Though I am a novice, self taught, and I am sure I don't do things properly, I thought I would contribute what I could. I wish I that I could have found an easy starting place, and would like to contribute one. I'm planning to make my pattern, and hope people will find it useful. I think I'll update the tutorial stage by stage as I go. Hopefully it turns out well.

I plan to finish stitching the skin on my current one, then start.  Hopefully I'll have the head tutorial up tomorrow. No promises though.

Update 01-11-12
I've finished the head. Might I just say that fake fur is the devil. I got hot glue in his hair. Dead-center front no less.  I am however pleased.

I wanted him to have dimples, but I put the mouth plate in crooked so this side has dimples way larger than I wanted, and the other side's are a bit smaller than desired.

Update: Finished - 04/20/2012

So I finished my puppet Sandwich today.

I decided to try something different than my last puppet, and I made the arm rods detachable. It was surprisingly easy, I just followed the instructions on this site.

Meatball (My first puppet) and Sandwich.

Everybody Panic!

And one for the shorties.
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3  Japanese mocchi box knock-off Questions. in Paper Crafts: Completed Projects: General by bedalton on: December 31, 2008 11:16:50 PM
Update: Here is a link to the company? that makes the Mochi I listed here.

Long Explanation:
My grandmother is Japanese, and her friends are Japanese.  Since it's the holidays, her friends have been visiting.  It's customary to bring a gift when visiting, no matter the time of year.  Since it's the holidays, there are special packages to be given as gifts when visiting. 

One of my joys is looking at packaging, and Japanese packaging can be incredibly nice.  Many of the boxes give you the impression that the packaging cost more than the actual item inside.  One in particular caught my eye.

It was for an arrowroot mocchi, I forget the brand, but here is a look at the packaging.

Inside was a small square of mocchi and some sauce.  The mochi was not really to my liking, but the packaging was.

I decided I needed to replicate this.  The design was thrown together, to keep from showing a naked box.

Heres a shot to show how it folds together.  There are gaps at all four corners.  The packaging assumes there is more packaging inside.

So now for the question.  I feel like these would make great gift boxes, only problem is, I don't know what to put inside to gift.  I thought of a cookie,  I could fit two medium cookies inside.  I want it to be satisfying, given only one box.

Any ideas?
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4  Argyle Moose Messenger Bag in Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General by bedalton on: November 18, 2008 12:30:50 PM
I designed this bag in the spring, but just barely made it yesterday.  The original plan called for burlap.  I made the bag with burlap, but it was not stable, so I made the bag over again.  That first bag also had a flap that turned out 6" too long.  It's like my stagecraft teachers always said, measure twice cut once.  Advice I failed to take to heart.  The shoulder strap turned out to be 10" too long.  Sigh.

It's made from thick canvas and there's a pocket inside.  The moose is my design.  He's screen printed. Which, if anyone knows how to keep the transparency down while burning, please let me know.  I use a sheet of glass, but the image warps and I can never get the registration right.

And here he is.

And me as a moose:

I guess I'm on an animal kick: bunny hoodie, bear hat, and now moose bag.

Edit:  On the first bag the flap was canvas and the rest was burlap with a layer of canvas underneath.
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5  A Bear Hat. in Clothing: Completed Projects: General by bedalton on: November 14, 2008 03:46:44 PM
The Story:  When I was in fifth grade, the album "Introducing Save Ferris" came out.  In the CD jacket, A man (T-Bone Willie?) was wearing an awesome bear hat.  It looked like it was made from a teddy bear head.  I fell in love with that hat.  A while later I saw the anime, "Serial Experiments Lain". Lain also wears a bear hat, though it looks like a cartoony hat.  I looked and never really could figure out how to do it.  Over the last year I've been thinking about it again.  I found this site which had a simple bear hat, modeled after Lain's. 

The other day, after sewing my first real garment from scratch, I realized I could do it.  I understood sewing well enough to attempt and perhaps be successful at making such a hat.  It took a few tries to get the shape and size the way I want it.  My first tries at the beanie style base were too rectangular or just weird.  This one is much more round.

The ear flaps in all their glory:

Me Growling:

And Finally a picture of just the hat...mostly.:

I'm stoked after years of wanting I have my bear cap.  Just in time for winter too.

Thanks for looking!
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6  A Rabbit Hoodie in Clothing: Completed Projects: General by bedalton on: November 13, 2008 02:40:38 PM
I saw this Tutorial by gnacissej.  The whole project seemed easy enough, and my confidence was high, though I've never sewn a garment from scratch before. 

I saw this fleece at Handcock's and thought I need that in my life.  My brother thinks it's too gay, and that it belongs on a 6 year old girl, but I love it.

Me freshly awake and modeling.

The only two problems i had were the Zipper(I redid it six times, still messed up) and the pockets.  I redid them twice, and just couldn't get them to match up.

I worked on it all night.  A few times I wanted to destroy it.  I exclaimed "I f***ing hate rabbits!" more times than I can count. 

But it's done now and I love it.
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7  Crew neck sweater to cardigan. in Clothing: Completed Projects: Reconstructed by bedalton on: March 28, 2008 06:30:04 PM
I was inspired by this project.

I took a crew neck sweater from the goodwill.  Bought some fabric and buttons and presto, a cardigan.  All together it cost me less than $11.  SWEET!

This is also my first time sewing something that wasn't a vinyl wallet.
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8  Valentines day rush. in Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects by bedalton on: February 14, 2008 02:44:27 PM
Being single, I had planned to spend the day by myself.  My friend Katy recently broke up with her bf, and called me about an hour ago, and asked me to be her Valentines.  I wanted to do something special, but not time consuming(This will be my second time celebrating Valentines, my first time also being with her.)  So we went on a picnic last time, and thats not an option this time, so I threw this together.  I made it up as I went along, cutting out fabric on a whim.  I'm really pleased with how this turned out.

She gets off work in a few hours and we're rushing to a restaurant that does not take reservations.  Wish us luck.

Looking at this picture, I think I should have used red string for the blanket stitch. Darn.
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9  Re: Miyazaki Swap Round 2 Gallery in The Swap Gallery by bedalton on: February 01, 2008 11:52:58 AM
Received from Cumber1137!

I got a shirt of San(I hope that's right, I'm terrible with names.)
A box book painted for Mononoke-hime(which is great, I always need more storage)
A totoro pillow case(My favorite, I've never had a decorated pillowcase before, it's always a solid color.  SWEET!)
And some magnets.  They're convex, so they magnify the image.  I've been staring at them for a while.  Since I was a child I've loved half-tone.

I've combined them to one image because my internet is fighting me. (i.e. taking minutes to load anything.)

Thanks so much Angie!
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10  Re: Miyazaki Swap Round 2 Gallery in The Swap Gallery by bedalton on: January 27, 2008 10:28:01 PM
I didn't decorate the cover, I printed the pages and every third page has one of six spirited away characters.


Angie, did the colors of the shirt change, get messed up?  If it did, I'll redo it.  I may not have heat set it right.
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