October 29, 2009

Puppet Theater Tutorial

A few months ago I was invited to participate in a Christmas Craft Festival with my Magnetic Travel Games and it is in a couple of weeks. Back in August I posted about a puppet theater that I had made (I originally got the idea from here) and I thought I would make one to take to use as a giveaway at the fair to try to get people to preorder them. So I thought since I was making one anyway I would make a tutorial to show you how to make one yourself.

Note: if you would like a puppet theater but don't feel like making one. I am now selling them in my Etsy shop. Click on the Etsy button in the left sidebar to check it out.

What you'll need

2 sheets of foam board
6 sheets of 12x12 scrapbooking paper in your choice of colors
about 5 1/2 yards of 1/4" ribbon that coordinates with your paper choice
2 13" pieces of 1 1/2" ribbon that coordinates with your paper choice
2 pieces of fabric 5" x 7" (finished size)
7" of non-adhesive velcro
1" of adhesive velcro
items to decorate the theater
Mod Podge (or an adhesive of your choice)
glue gun
utility knife or x-acto blade

My 10 yr old daughter helped taking the pictures and some turned out blurry. Sorry about that but you should still be able to see what I am doing in them.

Edit: I have recently discovered that you can get colored foam board. I bought black foam board and it took the need out of messing with the glue YAY. If you do use the colored foam board you will want to cut it out the same but you can skip down to adding on the decorative elements. 

 The first thing you want to do is trace your paper on the foam board make a 12" square.

 With the utility knife cut it out. I cut it out a little smaller than the 12".

You will need 3 of these and should be able to get 2 out of one foam board.

 On one of your boards you will need to cut open a window. The opening should be 10" by 6". Measure 1" from the top and the sides and 5" from the bottom

Cut out the opening

Now you will add the paper to the boards. Apply a thin layer of Mod Podge to both the foam board and the back of your paper.

Smooth your paper until all bubble disappear. (In this very blurry picture you can see that I was rubbing the heck out the paper lol). Keep rubbing I promise that the bubbles will rub out.

See I told you they would all rub out. Now you will want to repeat this on the front and back off all 3 boards.

On the board with the window, after you apply the paper to one side turn it over and cut the paper out of the window.

Then repeat with the other side.

Here is where you want to add you decorative elements. I decided to add gold stripes to the fronts only but you could add pictures or clip art, anything you want really. I show you how I added mine. I took my scrapbook paper and cut it into 1" strips.

I measured 1/2" from the sides and made a mark and then marked every inch after that. I marked both the top and the bottom of the board

Then I placed a strip at the first mark 1/2" in from the side and then every other inch. It took 6 strip per board. I used 18 strips in all.

Now you will use the 1/4" ribbon and glue it around the edges.
First using the hot glue put a dot at the end of your ribbon and fold under so that the raw edge is hidden.  Then start gluing it onto the edge of your board (Tip: you will want to start and stop at the bottom of you board.)

When you get all the way around find where the ribbon  meets and then cut the ribbon off of the spool a little longer. Before you glue it down you will want to fold under the end and glue it hiding the raw edge.

Then finish gluing it to the board. You will want the ends of the ribbon to meet but if it overlaps a little that will be ok too.

Now you need to get your fabric pieces. The finish size needs to be 5" by 7" for each piece.
You can hem the fabric or what I did was use Fray Check

Make sure you follow the instructions on the bottle.

At the top of the window glue the edge of the fabric down having the fabric coming out behind the board so that the edge is facing the front. Don't put the fabric all the way to the front edge. Don't worry about any white showing we will cover that up later. Do this for both pieces of fabric making sure they are side by side. These are the curtains.

Using the 1/4" ribbon repeat the process that you used to cover the outside to cover the edges in the window. Start with the folded end of the ribbon in a bottom corner.

Go all the way around the window covering the edge of the fabric.

Make sure you push it into the corners and finish up and the same corner you started in making sure you fold the raw edge of the ribbon under before you glue it to the board.

Take the 13" strip of 1 1/2" ribbon put glue on the end.

Fold the edge under 1/2". Repeat on the other end. You will want to do this for both strips making them 12". These will be the hinges for the theater.

Take your board with the window, the front side up, and on the left side put a bead of glue down the edge.

Take one of your 12" strips and place it on the glue a little less that 1/2 from the edge. You can eyeball it.

 Now flip the board over so you have the backside facing up

Place one of the other boards on top of the board with the window with the backsides facing each other. Double check to make sure you have the boards facing the right way.

That same strip you glued on the window board you will glue to the right side of this board. Place a bead of glue down the edge.

Fold the strip of ribbon up and over the edge and glue it down a little less that 1/2" from the edge. You don't want it to be tight so make sure you have some slack.

Now we are going to glue on the other strip. Turn the boards so that the front of the window board is facing up.

Take your 3rd board and place it on the window board with the fronts sides together. Double check to make sure you have the boards facing the right way. Place a bead of glue on the right side.
Take your other 12" strips and place it on the glue a little less that 1/2 from the edge. You can eyeball it.

Now flip every thing over and open it up so that you see the back of the window board.

Place a bead of glue on the left edge.
Fold the strip of ribbon up and over the edge and glue it down a little less that 1/2" from the edge. You don't want it to be tight so make sure you have some slack.

When you stand it up it should make a z shape. Well actually a backwards z shape lol.

Now we are going to make the closures so that when you store it, it will stay closed. Take the non-adhesive velcro and cut it in half so that you have two 3 1/2" pieces. Separate the soft side of the velcro from the spiky side. For the spiky side cut out two 1" pieces.
With your theater folded up (it doesn't matter which side you start with) about 1 1/2" to 2" from the bottom left hand side glue down the 1" piece of the spiky side of the velcro.

 Attach the 3 1/2" soft piece of velcro.

Flip the theater over.

Wrap the velcro strip around.

Glue it down making sure it is not too tight.

Repeat on the left hand of that side.

gluing the 1" piece of spiky velcro and attaching the 3 1/2" soft piece of velcro, flipping the theater over, wrapping the velcro strip around and gluing it down, making sure it is not too tight.
That's it for the closures

Now we are going to make it so that we can pull the curtains back. Make sure the theater is open and you are looking at the back side of the window board.

Cut the 1" piece of adhesive velcro in half. Make sure the soft side and spiky side are stuck together.

Take the backing off the soft side of the velcro and stick it to bottom inside corner of one of the curtain panels

Take the backing off of the other side

Pull the curtain up to the top corner and attach the piece of velcro.

Repeat with the other curtain panel.

Here it is with the curtain closed. (Man I should have ironed the curtains)

Curtains open

Here it is folded up and ready to store.. Measures about 1" thick.

That's it. Open it up and let your little one go to town putting on plays for you to watch.

If you have any questions or need me to clarify something please let me know.

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  1. Thanks for the tut, I want to make one of these but never can find the time. Hope I win your beautiful creation.

  2. Not only is it fun to make this. But I bet the kids will play with it for hours using their imagination to run wild.

    I love getting back to basics. Kids need to learn to be creative like we were. When we share these projects with them, they really enjoy it. We should learn to do more of this and less buying technical gadgets that consume them.

    Head on over and click my "Follow" button if you like what you see. This way we can inspire one another to get our creative juices flowing.

  3. This is so darling, I love it! Thanks for all your hard work on this tutorial!

  4. Not sure if I have the patience for this, but I do love the end result! Looks adorable!!

  5. I want to make 1 of these for each of my grandkids for Christmas---but---what ages do you think this will be good for? my grandkids are 2, 4, 6 and 8.

  6. All those ages are good. My oldest in the picture is 10 and she still enjoys using it. I also have a 2,4 and 8 year old who love playing with it.

  7. Thanks, Kelly. I'm going to give each child some finger puppets along with the theater. Thanks so much for posting this tutorial.

  8. You are welcome. If you want you can check out my Etsy shop (button on left sidebar) where I sell a set of finger puppets.

  9. Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now. Keep it up!
    And according to this article, I totally agree with your opinion, but only this time! :)

  10. I read a article under the same title some time ago, but this articles quality is much, much better. How you do this?

  11. This is so great! And I love the detail in your tutorial! I've added it to my DIY Theaters and Sock Puppets roundup today. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Thanks Katie going to go check out your site right now!