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Puppet Shirt - Free Pattern and Instructions

This tutorial is very basic, but it should give you a good start in creating different styles of clothing for your characters. The pattern is for a long-sleeve shirt, but can easily be adapted to short sleeves. You could add collars, turtle necks, buttons down the front, dress cuffs with buttons (or better yet cuff links). And though the pattern is based on the Simple Series patterns at Project Puppet, the principles behind the pattern can be applied to making clothes for any simple hand puppet. Enjoy!

Step One - The Arm

So, first things first, we need an arm! The arm in the picture below is a basic arm that was made from a Simple Series puppet pattern.

For our Simple Series savvy customers out there, notice that we were able to conserve fleece by splicing the Arm and Hand Pattern and using some scrap fabric for the upper part of the arm. You may choose to do this or not, but know that it's an option and a good way to "stretch" your fleece.

Step Two - The Body of the Shirt

Before we get started with the sleeve pattern, there are a few preliminary steps in the building of the puppet that should be done.

Follow the steps below.

  • When completing Step 3 of your Simple Series instructions (specifically Step 3-4 and 3-5), be sure to use the shirt fabric of your choice for the Front and Back Body Pattern pieces, instead of the fleece. This will provide the body of the shirt.
  • Continue with the subsequent steps. Stop after completing Step 5-4. At this point, you should have completed the puppet's head, body, and arms, though the arms are not attached.

Now, we're ready for the sleeves!

Step Three - The Sleeve Pattern

First download the Free Sleeve Pattern! (You'll need Adobe Reader to view and print it.) Cut the pattern out.

Follow the below steps.

  • Cut two 8 X 10 inch pieces from your shirt fabric.
  • Fold one of the pieces in half lengthwise and with the wrong side of the fabric out. Place the Sleeve Pattern on top.
  • Line up the longest straight edge of the pattern with the fold of the fabric and trace the remaining three sides (as shown in the picture above). You'll also notice, in the picture, that we have trimmed the shirt fabric to roughly follow the Seam 1 edge of the pattern. You may do this if you wish, but it's not necessary.
  • Repeat these steps for the other sleeve.

Now we're ready to sew!

Step Four - Sewing the Sleeve

We're ready to put the sleeves to the sewing machine!

  • Sew Seam 1 on both sleeves. Simply stitch along the traced line, leaving the Shoulder and Cuff Edge open.
  • With scissors, trim around each sleeve. Cut along the traced line of the Shoulder and Cuff Edge. Cut the excess fabric from the seam edge. Try to trim as closely as possible to the seam, but be careful not snip the stitches.

Now we'll give the Cuff Edges a finished look.

  • With the sleeve turned wrong side out, turn up the Cuff Edge about 3/8 of an inch. You may want to press the cuff in place with a warm iron, depending on the type of fabric used for the shirt.
  • Sew around the edge of the cuff. The Cuff Edge should look like the picture above.
  • Repeat the steps for the other sleeve.

The sleeves are complete! In the following step we'll put everything together.

Step Five - Putting It All Together

Let's finish it up!

  • With the sleeve turned wrong side out, lay the finished puppet arm on top as shown in the picture above. Make sure the thumb of the puppet hand is toward the folded part of the sleeve.
  • Stitch along the top of the arm (the Shoulder edge of the sleeve), attaching the two together.
  • Now turn the sleeve right side out over the puppet arm. Voila! You have attached the sleeve to the arm.

  • Repeat the above steps for the other arm and sleeve.
  • Attach both arms (with sleeves attached) by whipstitching them to the puppet body as per your Simple Series pattern instructions.

We hope you enjoyed the tutorial. Remember, this is only the beginning! You may add a collar and tie, a turtle neck, buttons down the front, or dress cuffs around the bottom of the sleeves. A variety of different styles of clothing are possible from this basic pattern. What would your puppet character wear?

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