Sharks are cool, and everybody loves puppets! Learning how to make a shark puppet is the perfect crafting project for you. Not to mention, by making minor adjustments to the FREE Puppet Pattern, you could easily turn this into nearly any kind of fish.
Follow along with this tutorial and instructions, then you will be making your own puppet in no time. Maybe even make a whole school of SHARKS!
Print out and assemble the Baby Shark pattern. The pieces can be taped together or glued to a piece of brown paper to make it stiffer. A glue stick or spray glue can be used to attach. If you want your shark to be a puppet, make sure to cut out the hole for your hand.
Trace the pattern onto the foam and make sure to transfer the notches to the foam as well. ½ inch reticulated foam is recommended, but the green foam available at most craft stores will also work as well. The foam can be cut with a razor blade but is thin enough that a pair of scissors works just as well. Make sure not to angle the razor blade or scissors; the foam will have an angled edge if you do. Keep the scraps to use later for the fins.
Apply contact cement or hot glue to the edges of the foam. If using contact cement, make sure you are in a well ventilated area or outside. Do not apply to the mouth area or the hole for the hand. Let it sit until the cement gets tacky and then line up the edges and press together. Use the notches to assist in lining up the edges.
At this point, test the hole for your hand. If it fits snugly, it should be fine since the fabric will bring it in a bit. If it is too snug, cut the hole a little bigger.
Next, take the mouthplate patterns and trace onto the storage bin lid. Alternate materials include thin plywood, balsa wood or cardboard. Make sure to mark the notches and label the top and bottom pieces. The tool for cutting out the mouth-plate will depend on the thickness of the material you are using. Scissors work well on thinner plastics and tin snips work really well on thicker plastics.
Take the mouth-plate pieces and lightly sand the edges on the top and bottom pieces on both sides of the pieces.
Cut two pieces of craft foam to fit the top of the mouth-plate. Glue the two pieces together using contact cement and then place and glue about halfway up the mouth plate.
Trim away some of the foam from the outer edge of the mouth plate to allow for later gluing. Cover the foam and top of the mouth-plate with either fabric or gaff tape. Trim any extra tape or fabric away.
Take the mouth-plate pieces and apply contact cement or hot glue to the edges. Also apply it to the lips of the shark mouth. Make sure to put the bottom mouth-plate on the bottom of the mouth and make sure the speed bump is on the inside of the puppet. Line up the notches with the center as well.
Fleece is a great option for puppet making; the fabric available at craft stores works well, but the best fleece to use is Antron Fleece. Take the fabric pattern and trace onto the fabric. If the belly is a different color than the top, cut along the middle line of the pattern and make sure to transfer the notches as well.
Lay the fabric with the back facing up. Make sure the stretch is going the long way on the pattern. Trace the pattern onto the fabric and make sure to transfer the notches as well. Notch where the fin placement is as well. Sharpie or marker can be used on fleece for tracing. Flip the pattern upside down to trace fabric needed for the other side. If using a different fabric for the belly, repeat this step with the fabric for that area and the belly pattern.
If you are using a light colored fabric, a highlighter can be used to trace the pattern and mark the notches.
Cut the pieces out of the fabric. If you are going to use a sewing machine, add a half inch of seam allowance. If you plan on sewing by hand, cut on the line. After cutting out the pieces, line up the notches on the top and the belly and pin the pieces together.
Sew the top and belly pieces together. After the bellies are sewn on, place the two pieces right-sides together, line up the notches, and pin together. Stitch along the top edge, around the tail and down to the entrance hole. Resume sewing on the other side of the entrance hole to the bottom of the mouth. Do not sew the mouth or entrance holes shut.
Next, make the fabric mouth-plate. Felt or velvet can be used and should be red or black. Trace the fabric mouth-plate pattern onto the back of the fabric and transfer the notches and marks for the side seams. Mark the top and bottom as well.
Cut the mouth-plate out of the fabric and pin into place on the shark. If using a sewing machine add a half inch seam allowance.
Pin the mouth-plate in the hole for the mouth. Make sure to line up the center notches with the center seams and that the top and bottom are in the right places as well. Sew into place.
To put the fabric covering on the shark, start by applying contact cement to the edges of the fabric and plastic mouth. Allow to get tacky and then align the top notches and bottom notches. The rest of the fabric should line up as well and will need to be pressed a little bit to keep it in
The goal of this step is to turn it inside out. Do this by putting your hand in the entrance hole as if you were performing it and slowly work the fabric around the body. To cover the tail, turn the fabric right side out first and then slide in the foam. Make sure to poke out the corners of the tail first; a covered marker works well for this. After the body is covered with the fabric, massage it a little bit more to get out any wrinkles.
To make the fins, cut out the pattern pieces for both the foam and fabric. Take some scrap foam and trace and cut out two side fins and one top fin. Make sure to flip the pattern when tracing the fin for the other side and mark the top of the foam as well. Cut them out when finished and add a notch to the flat side. The flat side is the bottom of the fin and will need to be attached to the body.
Place the foam pieces aside for now and work on the fabric coverings. To make the covering for the side fins, take scrap of fabrics used for the top and belly and place them right-sides together.
Take the fabric pattern for the side fins and trace it twice, making sure to flip the pattern on the second trace. Stitch along the edge of the fin, but leave the bottom open to insert the foam.
Once stitched, carefully cut the pieces away from the rest of the fabric. Make sure not to get too close to the stitch line as you cut. Turn them inside out and insert the foam.
Sew the fins shut. Since the seam will be up against the puppet, a simple whipstitch should work.
To place the fins according to the pattern, place the pattern on the puppet and mark the placement with pins. Stitch into place using the whipstitch.
To make the top (or dorsal) fin, take two scrap pieces of fabric used for the top of the body and put them right sides together. Trace the pattern onto the fabric and sew like you did for the side fins in step 17. Turn right-side out and insert the foam. Sew shut using the whipstitch as well.
To place the fin according to the pattern, place the pattern on the puppet and mark the end points with pins. Sew the fin into place.
On the entrance ring, place some glue around the inner edge of the foam and roll the fabric into it. Fabri-Tac works well as does hot glue.
Now it’s time to add features. Eyes are a great place to start and can be made from a variety of materials. Medium white pom poms can be found at most craft stores and pupils can be made by using smaller black pom-poms. Stuffed animal eyes can also be found at most craft stores and can be different sizes. Wooden half-spheres work well since they are flat on the back and can be easily glued down. Ping-pong balls are also commonly used, but it can be hard to glue without modifying them with foam.
Once you have decided on which kind of eyes to use, they will need to be placed on the puppet. Use straight pins to mark the outer edge to help with alignment. Hot glue can be used to attach them. Putting your hand inside the puppet and pressing will also help with making sure they are securely attached.
To attach the pupils, super glue works well.
To make teeth, take a piece of stiffened felt and cut a small strip off. Little triangles can be cut by folding the strip in half and cutting small triangles into the felt. Pinking shears can also be used.
To attach, use hot glue or Fabri-Tac on the top edge of the felt and place inside the mouth behind the lip.
To make a small tooth, use a very small piece of white cushion foam. A small corner piece works well and then shape into a tooth shape with scissors. Once you have decided on placement, use Fabri-Tac or hot glue to attach
To make eyebrows, take a piece of felt and cut a couple of small slivers and position on the puppet. Where you place them determines how your shark will look; angry or happy, friendly or young. Once you have decided on where they need to go, use glue to attach.