Welcome to Christmas in July! For this tutorial, Maker Team member Jess of @otterbeestitching is getting the whole family into the holiday spirit! These felt finger puppets are fun for the recipient and the maker and can be customized in countless ways. We dare you to make just one.
There’s just something so magical about all the twinkling lights, soft snowfall and cozy vibes - it’s something I look forward to all year long. Naturally, I jumped at the chance to design a project for Benzie’s Christmas in July series! Finger puppets are such a fun way to bring holiday stories to life for young kids, and this set of three works for a variety of stories and play scenarios. Once you’ve stitched up the festive Santa, bright-eyed Rudolph, and cozy Snowman, you’ll have a great sense of how to construct your own puppet designs and can expand your collection with any characters you like. Let’s get started!
Skill Level: Beginner
Time: 3 - 4 hours
Puppet Templates (click to download)
NOTE: Every family looks different and I encourage you to choose a skin tone that works best for yours. Representation is so important for children and Benzie has felt colors for a variety of skin tones. Some alternate color ideas include Oats, Toast, Latte, Hazelnut, or Brown.
1. Print the Puppet Template above. Cut all of the pattern pieces from felt. Prep one puppet at a time or all three at once.
2. Begin by pinning Hat Base and Scarf Base to a Snowman Base. Use coordinating floss and a running stitch to attach both pieces.
For this entire pattern, you will be working with a single strand of floss for each step. I recommend threading the needle and tying thread ends in a knot. This will keep the needle from slipping out inside the pieces.
3. To add detail to the scarf, position Scarf Top and hold in place with non-dominant thumb. Using two strands of DMC 3849, make vertical stitches ¼" apart along the length of Scarf Top. Repeat on tail of scarf with horizontal stitches. Make a few vertical stitches along bottom edge of tail for fringe. Repeat this process using two strands of DMC 3866 to create stripes in alternating colors.
4. Position Bobble and Hat Brim. Secure using a running stitch and coordinating floss.
5. To stitch the face, position Nose (centered horizontally and just above scarf) and secure with coordinating floss and a running stitch. Use a Frixion pen to draw small eyes on either side of Nose. Use DMC 801 to make a vertical stitch in center of eye. Fill in vertical stitches on either side until shape is to your liking. I make stitches shorter as I move closer to the outer edges to create an oval shape.
6. Now begin blanket stitching the front and back of puppet together. Use a Frixion pen to mark an opening about ¾" wide at bottom and thread needle with floss matching puppet base. Pin front and back together and bring needle through the front piece only. Tuck the thread tail inside the puppet and bring needle through both sides, exiting through the first point. Pull thread most of the way through, leaving a small loop. Put needle through this loop and pull tight. Continue making stitches in this way - going through both pieces and passing through the thread loop before pulling tight - along edge of puppet.
7. At the Scarf and Hat (or any areas of embellishment), only blanket stitch through the puppet bases to keep puppet front neat. Your needle may need to be angled to acheive this. Continue blanket stitching around puppet until you reach other side of the opening.
8. Begin by pinning Face to a Santa Base. Use coordinating floss and a running stitch to secure.
9. Pin Hat Base in place. Secure using coordinating floss and a running stitch.
10. Position Beard, Hat Brim and Bobble. Use pins for the larger pieces if desired. Use coordinating floss and a running stitch to secure each piece.
11. To stitch the face, position Nose so that it’s centered on Beard. Use coordinating floss and running stitch to secure. Use a Frixion pen to draw eyes on either side of Nose. Use one strand of DMC 801 to fill in the eyes, using the technique described in Step 5.
12. Use a Frixion pen to mark an opening about ¾" wide at bottom and thread needle with floss matching puppet base. Pin front and back pieces together and blanket stitch around perimeter, leaving bottom open. Only stitch through base pieces to avoid visible stitches on puppet face. Refer back to Steps 6 and 7 if needed.
13. Stitch Ears and Antlers to a Reindeer Base. Antlers are only secured by one or two stitches, so use care until Face piece is stitched on.
14. Secure Inner Ears with coordinating floss and a running stitch.
15. Pin the Face in place and secure with coordinating floss and a running stitch.
16. To stitch the face, position Nose (centered horizontally and nearer to bottom edge of Face) and secure with coordinating floss and a running stitch. Position Cheeks on either side of Nose and secure in the same manner. Use a Frixion pen to draw eyes and fill using one strand of DMC 801 and the technique described in Step 5.
17. Use a Frixion pen to mark an opening about ¾" wide at bottom and thread needle with floss matching puppet base. Pin front and back pieces together and blanket stitch around perimeter, leaving bottom open. Only stitch through base pieces to avoid visible stitches on puppet face. Refer back to Steps 6 and 7 if needed.
Congratulations, you’ve successfully completed your finger puppets! It's time for holiday stories with a tactile component or some imaginative holiday play.
Although I’ve only included instructions for three characters, the techniques here make it easy to design your own puppets! Why not design an elf for Santa’s workshop or the characters from your favorite holiday picture book? You could even design puppets for other winter holidays, like Hannukah, or for different times of the year entirely. The possibilities are endless and we can’t wait to see how you make this project your own!