I keep waiting to post this, thinking I'll get better shots, but it hasn't happened so far so I'm just forging ahead. It's hard to get a good shot of a puppet theater!
You may recall my picture of Christmas morning at our house:
Possibly my favoritest reaction to a present, ever. (behind the puppet theater are My Old Man and his brothers, putting on a show). It made the time I spent on this TOTALLY worth it.
As far as crafted presents go, though, this one really didn't take that much time. It's from Amy Karol's book Bend-the-Rules Sewing, and she indicates that it's not hard, just tedious because of all the straight-line sewing. She suggests spreading it out over a few days to avoid burnout. But you know me better than that by now, right? Spreading it out over a few days requires not waiting until the last possible minute to get the thing done. I did do my cutting four days before Christmas, and I think I may have sewn one line or two on the 23rd. But everything else was left for Christmas Eve. Complicated, no. Tedious, yes. Straight lines are not my friend, y'all.
Still I managed. And even in the tedium of all the long straight lines, there was excitement over making my boys something that will stoke their creativity and cooperation. The woman who cut my fabric at Joann's was very complimentary of my choice of crafted gift. [Did you know that the people who cut your fabric at Joann's are required to ask you what you're working on?!? I did not know that till recently. I was always pleased with how interested and encouraging they seemed to be. Yes, I am a marketer's dream. Just show a little bit of interest in me, and I will buy whatever you are selling.]
pattern: Puppet Theater with Matching Case
from Bend-the-Rules Sewing, by Amy Karol
(wish I had a pic of the matching case to show you, because it is SO cute, especially with the big ol' button holding it closed)
fabric: basic cotton from Joann's (where they really want to know what I'm working on! really!)
notions: pompom trim (LOVE!), twill tape, bias trim, ribbon, dowels (shown in picture above before the dowels were cut to the right size), tension rod
made: mostly on December 24th
modifications: none intentionally. I did have to use bias trim as my curtain tie-backs because I forgot to buy ribbon. And the store didn't carry 2-inch wide twill tape, so I used 1 1/2-inch wide plain ribbon (it's to hold the dowels in place and is not visible)
note: If you make this, do not skip the dowels. They are pretty crucial to holding things in place the right way when it is hung in a doorway. Otherwise, the theater will be a lumpy, depressing mess. The pattern is very straightforward, with one very small quibble. I don't like it when a pattern gives you directions by telling you which fabric to use - as in "cut the green floral fabric" and "hem the pink paisley fabric." If you chose different fabrics, as I did, you have to keep going back and reminding yourself what's what, as in: "green floral fabric, oh, that's the valance, and I am using plain red fabric for the valance." Why not just indicate "valance fabric," "background fabric," "curtain fabric" instead? I think it would be pretty unusual for someone to follow a pattern like this and use the same fabrics, so I really don't understand why designers do this.
verdict: Totally love it. This is a great gift, and not hard to make. It is inexpensive and easy enough to make that I could easily see making this for my boys to take to birthday parties in the future. Knit or sew a few puppets and you have a whole little gift set (fortunately, on this count, I listened to My Old Man and chose to buy puppets for our boys instead. Ah, sanity, it is so lovely when you win!). I've seen lots of puppet theaters for sale in toys catalogs lately, and they are unbelievably pricey. This is a great alternative - and much more charming since it's handmade.