Saturday, March 16, 2013

In The Hoop Puppet Tutorial

In this tutorial I will show you how an in-the-hoop puppet can be made by demonstrating a step by step procedure for making a cow puppet.  First, the digital design files can be purchased here
Each puppet comes in 3 sizes:
Adult (6x10 hoop)
Child (5x7 hoop)
finger (4x4 hoop)
Each puppet design will come with a complete instruction PDF with step by step instructions as shown below.  You will need Adobe Reader installed on your computer to open them.  You can download that here.

It may help to print out the page and have it next to your machine while you stitch it out.  I try to keep the instruction sheets simple and to the point.  However, in this tutorial, I will be more thorough, as to answer many questions you might have.

Please keep in mind that the PDFs that come with the puppets will show you the adult size puppet and the child size puppet.  For the finger puppets, a lot of the appliqued parts are replaced with filled-stitch parts instead.  On the cow, for example, with the adult and child size, the spots, snout, and hooves are applied as appliqued parts.  On the finger puppet, the spots, snout, and hooves are filled-stitch.

Step 1.  Hoop cut away stabilizer.  Try to use a nice, soft cut away stabilizer, as this will stay on the inside of the puppet when it is finished.  A medium weight will work nicely.

Step 2. Place the hoop in the machine and sew the first step. On the cow, this will show you where the horns go. 

Step 3. Place a piece of felt large enough to cover the stitches and sew the next step which will tack down the horns.  Then trim all the way around the horns.

 Step 4.  Place a sheet of felt in the main color over the hoop covering the entire hoop.  Felt sold by the sheet is the perfect size if you are using a 6x10 hoop.  This can be held down with masking tape, but it may be fine just sitting on top of the hoop.  (This will be step two for puppets that don't have ears, horns, hair, or other objects that need to go behind. - For those puppets you will put the felt down before placing the hoop in the machine for the first time.)
 Step 4.  Sew the next stitches.  These stitches will tack down the felt while defining the edges of the puppet.  Do these stitches in the same color thread as the felt you are using.  Some of my designs might have gray thread shown here.  I only do that so you can see it easier.
 Step 5.  The spots will be applied next.  With each one, sew the first stitches and then place a piece of felt big enough to cover the stitches over top and sew the finishing stitches.  Then trim each spot carefully.  The finger puppet uses filled-stitch for the spots.

 Step 6.  The hooves are done in the same way as the spots.  Stitch and trim those carefully.
 Step 7. The snout is done in the same way as the spots and hooves. Stitch and trim it carefully.

 Step 8.  Next, sew the eyes, then the pink of the ears and nostrils.  These are filled stitches.
 Step 9.  Take the hoop out of the machine, but don't un-hoop.  Trim the threads.  This can't be done once the puppet is finished.  If the threads are left on, it won't be very comfortable to wear.
Step 10.  You will then Place a piece of felt on the BACK of the hoop taping it down on the top and bottom.  This will be the back of the puppet.  Be sure the piece is large enough to cover the entire puppet.  (I am showing you the pictures from the sheep puppet for this step.)
 Step 11.  Place the hoop back in the machine.  This step will sew the front of the puppet to the back.
Step 12.  Here is what the puppet will look like all finished, but still hooped.

 Step 13.  Remove from hoop and carefully trim around the edge of the puppet.  Be careful of the horns.
Finished Puppets!  Front and Back

The adult puppets will fit a woman's hand.  The child puppets fit my 6 and 9 year old nicely.  The finger puppets are finger puppet size.  If you need a bit more room, to accommodate a larger hand, a knit fabric can be used on the back, so that it will stretch. 

With this tutorial and a little help from the PDF, I hope I have made you feel at ease about trying an in-the-hoop puppet design.  Don't be intimidated, it looks complicated, but you can do it! 

Have a fabulous day!


  1. GREAT tutorial! I think I may have to try these for Kellie when she gets a little older!

  2. My granddaughter has a class project for Thanksgiving. They are studying the Wampanoag Indians and Pilgrims. They are supposed to make their indians and pilgrims out of sock puppets. Do you know if there are any patterns for sock puppet indians? I would appreciate any help you can give me. Thank you, Cathy Ulrich

  3. My email is