Saturday, April 26, 2014

"W" is for Wild Animal Hand Puppets

If you've been here for a little while, you'll remember that I made these hand puppets for Miss A's 3rd birthday...

At that point, I gushed about how much I loved them and how I might be doing more in the future. Well...that day is TODAY! (Well technically, it was earlier this week...but still.)

Today, "W" is for Wild Animal Hand Puppets!

These guys were a little different from the first go round, but still just as fun.

As with the first set, I started off with the pattern designed by Larissa over at Just Another Day in Paradise for the bodies.

I cut out two of this pattern in each of my colors. Two each of white, green, orange, brown, gray, and yellow.

Then I proceeded to take a picture of the least photogenic color of the six. Because I'm awesome like that.

Then it was time to figure out how I was going to design my animals. Unlike the Barnyard Hand Puppets, this time I didn't have Larissa's patterns to rely on for everything.

It wound up being a hodgepodge of some of Larissa's pieces and parts and some of my own pattern designs. I got my design ideas from a few sources. I happened upon Virginia's lion and crocodile hand puppets over at Virtage Gets Crafty. She didn't have a pattern for hers, so I just drew my own based on her design.

For the rest of the animals, I was somewhat stuck. This is how this project becomes the second in my Etsy knock-off series during the A to Z Challenge. I did a web search for cartoon versions of my animals to get some image ideas and happened to luck out. I found a lot of embroidery designs and a few other hand puppets over on Etsy. Most of them came from The Applique Place. I used these to get where I was going and once again designed my own patterns.

I like to work assembly line style, so my next step was cutting out all of the pieces and parts.

I got everyone all ready to be assembled.

The next step was sewing on the front designs. I had pins everywhere. At this point my hand puppets started taking on a striking resemblance to Pinhead from Hellraiser.

Not so cute and cuddly.
Once I had everything pinned, I worked again in assembly line fashion. I had to change out the thread for each different color of felt, so instead of working by animal, I worked by color.

All of the front pieces got sewn on except for ears, hooves, mane, claws, and the alligator's (yes...I know she called hers a crocodile...I like alligator) little head bumps. Oh...and this time around, I used a zig zag stitch to attach all of the front pieces instead of a straight stitch. I liked the results. It gave everything a little more texture and depth.

The elephant was by far the most difficult. He gave me trouble at nearly every turn. I had to go out to the store and get a second gray felt, then I had to design his trunk. That took forever and at least three different pattern ideas. I went through about five different styles of tusks before I fell upon the ones I eventually used. Lastly, those darned ears. They were a pain in the can.

As with the other components, I made several versions of patterns before I found an ear style I was happy with. Once I had that figured out, I figured I was golden. I was wrong. I'll explain shortly.

I got everyone ready to assemble. This meant sewing the ears for the monkey (no, it's not a bear), the tiger, the zebra, and the elephant.

The way to do this is to put the two right sides together and sew around the edges of the ears leaving one edge open. Flip the ear right side out and then stitch closed. That part went okay for everyone.

The lion had his own challenges. I'm glad I left him for last or I would have really messed him up. Here's where my horror story with the elephant comes in. I had a feeling he was going to be trouble, so I sewed him up first. I was right. He was a terror.

With the smaller ears, you just flip them inside (like below), place the two right sides of the body pieces together, pin, and sew the whole thing shut, inside out. That works great. Because the ears are SMALL.

The elephant's are not small. So when you fold them in, they overlap with weird spots on the inside. I overlooked this detail. So when I went to flip him right side out, his ears were sewn to his forehead and his arm pit. This totally squished his midsection and made the top portion of his head shaped like a trapezoid. Poor elephant. He was a mess. (I should have taken pictures. He looked pitiful.) Even better, I triple stitched the whole thing, so getting it undone was a nightmare. That was when I decided to go to bed and work on this project the next day. That was a good choice.

Back to the lion. Fresh off my elephant debacle, I was prepared. I pinned his already attached mane (I only wanted this on the front side) to the center of his face to keep it from being anywhere near the stitch line.

He looked ridiculous for a bit, but it was well worth it.
Then, just like everyone else, I pinned the two right sides together. The only thing that got left off from this fun was the hooves for the zebra. They got sewn on later.

I triple stitched around the edge, hemmed the bottoms, and flipped them back right side out.

The zebra's hooves were sewn like the ears, but instead of being stitched shut after flipping them, I slid them onto his arms and then stitched all the way around their edges.

I had seen some other puppets floating around with an outside edge stitch. I thought that looked pretty slick, so I added that to this batch. I liked the results. It just made them look a little cleaner and finished.

Other than my oh-so-fun experience with the elephant, everything went pretty well.

And even though he was a pain, I still like the way the elephant came out.

Collin thought the monkey was a bear. I actually worked very hard to try and prevent this. I moved his ears to the sides of his head, cut the face piece, and moved the eyes and nose to look more monkey like. Apparently it wasn't enough.

I didn't make back sides for these guys (I didn't do any for my barnyard batch either), so maybe that's something I'll have to start doing. He wouldn't think it was a bear if it had a long monkey tail. There's always room for improvement with these projects.

My favorite is the lion. I adjusted my pattern a little bit from Virginia's. I moved the back side mane piece to the front and then rotated it slightly to give the mane a double layer with some depth. I really like how he turned out. I'm thinking about adding some whiskers on him next time. (I opted out on the ones for the tiger and I'm still torn over it...he could've gone either way.)

And now I have patterns for two different sets of hand puppets. Don't worry...this won't be the last you see of hand puppets. I'm seriously addicted to them. I have a pile of ideas still floating around. As long as they continue to be cute and not give me a ton of trouble (I'm looking at you, elephant), they'll be one of my favorite projects to work on.

I have a list started for ones I'd like to make in the future, but what animal puppet ideas do you have? I'm always looking for new varieties to add to my stash of plans.

Thanks to all of you stopping by from A-to-Z Challenge! I love new readers. Make sure to leave me a comment below (including your blog address) so that I can return the favor by visiting you.

1 comment:

  1. What gorgeous puppets. You are so talented. Thanks for dropping by my blog.


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