How To Make A Python Pupppet, Part 1: Tracing and Cutting the Material
Making your own python puppet is easy. Just follow these 66 simple steps and you’ll soon be entertaining and delighting audiences.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- green fleece, ½ yd. (if your fabric store will cut less than a yard, get ½; otherwise make more puppets with the excess!)
- yellow fleece, 1 ft.
- black fleece, 1 ft.
- 1/2” foam sheeting, ½ yd.
- red felt, 1 sheet
- stiffened white felt, 1 sheet
- black felt, 1 sheet
- ping pong balls, 2 (or more if you’re prone to accidents)
- green thread
- fabric glue or other very strong adhesive
- sewing machine (or a needle and the patience to stitch it by hand)
- sewing pins
- marker or tracing chalk
- Velcro, small piece
I recommend reading through the instructions first because you might decide you want to do things differently.
1. Download and print the patterns. There are two versions. One is formatted for good ol’ 8.5×11” letter size, the other is ledger, or 11×17”. For those of you with a big printer, we offer the ledger size as the pattern is slightly larger than a standard sheet of of paper. If you can’t print that big, don’t worry about it. Your printer is probably going to crop the pattern in a few spots but it’s no big deal to draw in the missing lines. Alternatively, you could take the files to a copy shop and get them printed on ledger for pennies.
You can download the patterns here.
The standard format:
The 11×17 format:
2. Cut the pattern out along the heavy black edges. Some of the pieces need to be joined together to make bigger pieces. For example, “Back Pattern #1” needs to be joined to “Back Pattern #2”. The pieces clearly state which edges need to be joined together. You’ll figure it out. You can tape the pieces together or, if you’re wild and crazy like us, you can just set them on the fabric next to one another for tracing.
3. Now you’re going to trace the pattern. If you want yours to look like ours, it’s important to trace the correct colors. The only piece that is yellow is the Chest Pattern. The only piece that is black is the Mouth Pattern. Everything else is green. But don’t let me discourage you from striking out on your own. Your python can be any color you want. In fact, our prototypes for this puppet were all blue because I thought the blue fleece at the fabric store was really pretty. Make a pink python, send us a pic, and we’ll post it on the site. Promise.
4. Let’s start with the Back Pattern. Trace the pieces on your fleece. I recommend tracing on the “back” side of your fabric. Not all fleece is made the same, so you may not have a difference between sides. But if one side is more textured and fleecey, trace on the other, flatter side. That way all of your tracing lines will be hidden inside the puppet when you sew it. You don’t have to use a marker. Chalk or pencil work fine, too. But if you do use a marker, be sure to get a lot of ink on your fingers like I did.
5. Your traced Back Pattern should now look something like this. One piece instead of two.
6. Now you’re going to cut it out. The pattern that is. Any scissors will do, but we prefer the fancy sewing type and we repeat: don’t cut anything but fabric with your fancy sewing scissors and if you ever catch someone cutting anything but fabric with your fancy sewing scissors ban them from your sewing kit for life. But do so nicely.
7. Now the Head Pattern. No need to join it to anything, but we are going to trace it twice.
8. That’s the first side of the head pattern.
9. Now, the next step is to flip the pattern over. This is important if your fleece is more textured on one side and if you are using a marker. You want the textures to be displayed on the outside and you want the ink(if you’re using a marker) to be hidden on the inside. Also, see how I positioned the patterns so close to one another? That’s to conserve fabric for future puppets.
10. Trace the pattern.
11. Cut the two head pieces.
12. That’s it for the green fabric. Next we trace and cut the Chest Pattern on the yellow fleece. As before, be sure to join the two patterns before tracing and cutting.
13. Now onto the Mouth Pattern. We’re using black fabric and a black marker, so you might not think it’s going to work. But check out the next picture.
14. Cut out the mouth.
15. Next is the Foam Mouth Pattern. This is pretty important as this piece is what lends structure to your puppets mouth. Without the foam, your python will have a smooshy face. You could use something like cardboard or plastic, but those things aren’t as much fun to work with.
16. Trace the pattern.
17. Cut out the mouth.
18. Then trace and cut out the tongue and the teeth.
19. That’s it! That’s all the pieces of the pattern. A note: contrary to what we show in this picture, don’t cut your teeth down to triangles yet. Keep them as rectangles for the time being. We’ll trim them down after we sew them in. We just wanted you to see all of the pieces laid out like this and we think it looks really cool, too.
We’ll put these pieces together in Part 2: Sewing.