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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Nativity Hand Puppets

It's the 5th Day of Christmas at CKC and we have another FREE project for you!  I am super excited about today's project because I have been planning on doing it for a whole year now, since last Christmas Eve!

 About ten or fifteen years ago my awesome sister Charlotte made a set of Nativity hand puppets for each of us, and it has become a family tradition that our kids look forward to every year. My sister got the idea from some friends at church and they used a basic template to make them, but the faces and accessories were her own design. She happily gave me permission to share her handiwork with all of you today, so here we go! 

Sheets of Felt: 2 each of 
Pink, Light Blue, Dark Blue, Tan, Brown, Dark Brown, 
Yellow, White, Off White, Red, Royal Blue, Deep Purple, 
Green, and Peach (or other Skin Color)
Sewing machine
Fabric glue or craft glue
Sharpie marker or craft paint (black and pink)

First, we will construct the main body portion of the puppets. It's best to do all of these big pieces first, because the remaining pieces will be cut from the leftover scraps. So don't throw anything away as you cut! All of the body portion of the puppets are constructed the same way and I will demonstration using the Mary puppet: 

Cut out the main body pattern piece and lay it on the two layers of pink felt. Cut out the shape using your rotary cutter or scissors. You can trace around it using a sharpie before cutting, or just pin it or hold it in place using pattern weights. If you do use a marker, you will need to trim all the marks off or it will be visible on the outside of your finished puppet. I prefer to cut without drawing. 

After you have your two layers cut, pin them together with right sides out (wrong sides together) and sew around the outer curves 1/8" from the edge, as shown in red above. Do not sew the bottom edge together.  You will not be turning the puppet so be sure to sew neatly. 

After sewing, go back to make sure you caught all the edges on top and bottom. You want your puppet to be sturdy! 

**Repeat this step with all of your remaining puppets!  Do not go on to make facial features or accessories until you have all your puppets cut out and constructed.** 

Now you are ready to cut out faces and accessories. The pattern includes several face shapes that you can mix and match, or you can do them exactly as we did.  For Mary, I used the small pattern pieces to cut a round face out of peach and two small eyes out of black. For the hair, I cut thin strands off the edge of the brown scraps, as shown above. 

Use the fabric glue to attach the face,  eyes, and hair. I put just enough hair to make it look like its peeking out from her headwrap.   Of course you could also use buttons or any other embellishments you choose. 

The construction of the Baby puppet is a little different than the others so I'll show the specific steps for it too. 

Cut out a white pillow and blanket from the felt using the small pattern pieces. Cut the Baby head out of the skin color, and some strings of yellow straw as you did with the hair earlier.  

Place the pillow and head on the puppet as shown above. 

Then add the blanket, covering the bottom of the head.  

Glue all three pieces in place. 

Then glue bits of straw around the edges of the blanket and lower pillow, as shown above. 

If you want to, you can add just a tiny bit of pink to the cheeks using a pink sharpie very gently in small strokes, or using pink craft paint and a stipple brush.  You could also leave the cheeks off or even cut them out using fabric, but I really like the brushed look. In the photo above I used a pink sharpie and in the remaining photos, my sister used craft paint. (She's awesome like that.) 

Now using these same instructions from above, you are ready to create the faces and accessories on the rest of the puppets!  The green shepherd gets the shepherd's crook and the blue guy is Joseph.  Note that you can give them all hair like Joseph, or you can leave the hair off like the Shepherd.  Whatever you're in the mood for! 

The wise men can each have a different crown (all included) and you can add felt jewels to them or even use craft gems. 

The animals use the same bodies but you can give the cow a longer face and the sheep a smaller. You can add little shapes to the ears as shown above, or leave them bare. 

Your star should be done already (unless you want to add something extra), and for the angel, you will simply lay the felt halo across its head at an angle and glue it in place on the back of the head. These two are always my kids' favorites. 

And... you're done!  You are ready for lots of meaningful fun with your kiddos!  Every Christmas Eve my kids and their cousins use the puppets to re-enact the Nativity while their Grandpa reads the Christmas Story to us. We all love it! 

When we are done with the puppets at the end of the season, we store them flat in a small shirt box. They have lasted great from year to year! Enjoy!

 Let's Create! ~ Kristen 

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