Magento CommerceHandweavers Guild of America

Weave a Puppet

Information provided by Marcy Petrini

These directions will make a puppet approximately 4.5 inches by 12 inches. Once you have made one, you can experiment with size, yarns, and facial features. Read all of the directions first, then start, following directions for each step. Enjoy your creation!

Materials You Will Need
1. A tapestry needle
2. Scissors.
3. A few straight pins.
4. Masking tape, or other tape that will not damage the loom.
5. Approximately 1 1/2 ounces of wool of any color for the warp and weft. The size should be approximately 12 wraps per inch.
6. Approximately 1 1/2 ounces of 5/2 mercerized cotton for the hair. Other sizes of cotton yarns will work, also. Use a variety of colors. Directions for cutting the yarn are below.
7. 2 yards of the same size wool yarn for the eyes, 1 yard for the nose and 3 yards for the tongue, divided into 9 strands, each 1 foot long.
8. A loom made of foam board or other board that will not bend under tension.

Directions for making the loom:

Have an adult cut a piece of board so that it is 12 inches long and 8 inches wide. The extra width is to keep the warp from slipping off. The warp will be on the loom length-wise. Choose one side and mark it "top." This side will also be the front. Starting approximately 2 1/4 inches from the center of the loom, and have the adult cut small slits, 6 per inch, at the top and at the bottom of the loom for 4 1/2 inches. There should be 27 slits at the bottom and 27 slits at the top of the loom. Draw a line on the left side from the first slit at the top of the loom to the first slit at the bottom of the loom. Do the same for the first slits on the right side. These lines will help you keep the warp spread out
 

To Cut the Puppet Hair

 

  • Use the loom as a template to cut the hair to the right length.
  • Turn the loom sideways, so that the word "top" is now on the side of the loom and the 8-inch side is the length.
  • Take as many strands of yarn as you like, of various colors, and attach them to the loom with a small piece of tape.
  • Wrap the yarns around the loom sideways as many times as they will fit.
  • Cut the wrapped yarns (from the balls or cones) and place a piece of tape across all of the strands of yarn on both sides.
  • Cut all the strands at the top and at the bottom of the template as close as possible to the edges. You now have the puppet hair cut, held together by tape.
  • Remove the tape carefully as you gather the puppet hair.
  • Put aside for later use.
  • Repeat as many times as necessary until you have 84 groups of hair.

To Warp the Loom

 
  • With a knot or a piece of tape, attach the wool yarn to be used for warp in the back at the top of the loom on the first slit on the left.
  • Make a warp thread by bringing the yarn to the bottom of the loom, and anchoring the thread in the first slit at the bottom.
  • Go around the back of the loom and come out at the top in the next slit. Your warp will be a continuous thread going around the loom. You will weave only the front, and use the back threads for a fringe.
  • It is important to keep even tension when warping the loom. Continue to warp until you have 27 threads. Attach the final thread at the bottom of the loom.
  • To Weave the Front of the Puppet
  • To weave you will use a weft yarn. For the weft, you can use the same color wool as the warp, or a different color, but it should be approximately the same size yarn.
  • To begin, cut approximately 1-yard of weft. You can thread it through a tapestry needle to weave or use your fingers to place the weft through the warp threads.
  • Starting at the bottom of the loom and leaving a tail, weave the weft from the right side of the warp by going over the first warp thread and under the second, over the third and under the fourth, etc., until you finish the first row. Push the weft as close to the bottom of the loom as possible, at the top of the slits. You should end by going over the last thread.
  • Make sure you do not pull the weft too tightly, or the puppet will be too narrow. The warp threads at the edges should remain straight throughout the weaving. Keep the warp threads on the lines that were drawn on the left and right sides of the loom.
  • Knot the weft tail to the warp thread to secure it.
  • Start the second row from the left side by going under the first thread, over the second thread, etc., until you reach the end of the right side of the loom. Push this second row close to the first so that your weaving forms a grid. This kind of weaving is called plain weave.
  • Continue to weave until you have 9 rows (also called "shots"). This should correspond to approximately 1 inch of weaving. If you have much less than one inch, you are weaving too tightly; if you have much more than one inch, you are weaving too loosely. Adjust your weaving in the next rows so that you have approximately 1 inch of plain weave between rows of hair.
  • It is now time to add hair (see picture on left and information below). After each row of hair, weave 9 rows of plain weave, then repeat a row of hair until you have 7 rows of hair.
  • Continue with your weaving until the weft thread has been used up. Begin weaving with the new yarn and allow the ends to overlap each other about one or two inches. Any ends that stick out can be pushed to the back.
  • Finish by weaving plain weave to the top of the loom for approximately 2 1/2 or 3 inches.

 To Make the Hair

  •  To make each hair group, use approximately 10 strands of 7- to 8-inch-long yarn that you have already cut.
  • Starting with the second and third warp thread from either side, make a knot by placing the hair yarn over and then around the two warp threads, pulling it up in the middle of the two threads to secure it (see diagram).
  • Make a second knot over the fourth and fifth warp threads.
  • Make a third knot over the sixth and seventh warp threads.
  • Alternate until you have 12 groups for the row. There will be two warp threads left over.
  • After weaving the 9 rows of plain weave, you can knot the next row of hair. Start on the same side as before, but this time start the knotting on the third and fourth warp thread, and continue for 12 groups. There will be one warp thread left over.
  • Continue weaving 9 rows of plain weave and knotting 1 row of hair until there are 7 rows of hair.

 Cutting the Puppet Off of the Loom

 When finished, you can cut the warp to take this half of the puppet off of the loom. Do it in small steps. Cut the threads in the back of the loom, approximately 5 inches from the top of the loom. Use groups of 3.

Cut the first group of 3 warp ends. Make the fringe by making an overhand knot with the group at the top of the puppet, and push close to the weaving. Repeat at the bottom. The top side of the puppet will have a row of short fringe. This will make the teeth. The bottom side of the puppet will have a row of long fringe. This will be part of the hair.

Repeat for a total of 9 groups.

Trim the fringes so they are even, and the length that you like.

 To Weave the Back of the Puppet

 To make the back of the puppet, you have choices:
  • You can make it identical to the front by following the directions above.
  • You can make it by weaving plain weave-that is, without hair. For interest, you can use different colored yarns and make stripes.
  • You can experiment by varying the fabric. For example, you could weave over two threads, instead of one. You could change which two threads you go over in every row. These variations will form "floats." Try anything-just make sure that the floats are not longer than 3 threads and that you vary which threads you go over and under from row to row, otherwise the warp and weft threads may get caught and snag, and the puppet would suffer

 Adding Features

  •  Add features before sewing the two puppet halves together. See the photo at the beginning of this page for suggested placement of facial features.
  • Using a tapestry needle and one strand of the eye yarn, embroider one eye using a stitch similar to the satin stitch or use buttons. Each eye should be approximately 1/2 inch across.
  • Repeat for the other eye and the nose, using the same stitch.
  • For the tongue, tie the 9 threads together, and make a 3-strand braid, using 3 threads for each strand.
  • You may add other features to your puppet, depending on your fiber expertise. For example, embroider eyebrows, stitch whiskers, or add eyelashes. You may also use other techniques; for example, you could crochet or knit the tongue, instead of braiding it.

 Sewing the Puppet

  •  Using the tapestry needle and leftover warp yarn, sew the tongue on the wrong side of the puppet front, underneath the teeth, in the center of the puppet.
  • Keeping the wrong sides together, and the right sides to the outside, pin the two puppet halves together. Sew the front and back together at the top or mouth only, making sure that the tongue and teeth stay on the outside of the puppet.
  • Unpin the puppet, and fold over at the mouth so that the right sides of the puppets are together, and the wrong sides of the puppet are outside. Pin again.
  • Using the same yarn as the warp, sew the two long sides of the puppet together. Do not sew the bottom.
  • Turn the puppet inside out. Say hello to the puppet!

Giving the Puppet a Bath

  • Your puppet will feel a lot fluffier if you give it a bath. Fill a wash tub or sink with lukewarm water and a little bit of dishwashing detergent. Gently put the puppet in the water, making sure that the water covers the puppet. Leave several hours or overnight. Gently rinse the puppet until all the soap is gone. Place the puppet in a towel and roll it. Squeeze out excess water. Do not wring the puppet-it would really hurt! Unroll the towel. Examine the puppet. Smooth out any tangled hair gently. Cut any extra threads. Lay it flat to dry. While your puppet dries, be thinking of a name. Show off your puppet!

Adding Hair to the Puppet

  • Take the strands of yarn to be used for hair as a group.
  • Find the two warp threads that will hold the hair.
  • Place the group over the two warp threads.
  • On each side of the warp threads, fold the hair toward the middle, and wrap it around the warp thread so that the hair comes out between the two warp threads. Pull toward you. The knot is completed.

How to Embroider Face Features

  • Start with a stitch 1/8 inch long, adding stitches making a total of 5 stitches in varying lengths for the foundation of the eye (or nose). Add more stitches to create a bulging eye.

 Making Fringe

  • Using unwoven warp threads, place tails over the rest of the yarn, making a loop.
  • Place the tails first under the loop and then over it, making a knot. Push the knot close to the weaving.

 How to Make a Three-Strand Braid

  • Use 3 threads for each strand of the braid. When crossing the strands, always keep the crossing thread on top; for example, strand #1 goes over strand #2.
  • Start again, by using strand #2 as #1, strand #3 as #2, and strand #1 as #3.