Resizing, Altering and Modifying


I've just finished my first puppet after watching the course and I must say I'm really pleased with the results. I've made copious notes, dipped in and out of the videos again and picked up a wealth of advice from BJ.

I'd like to take things further and (as noted by BJ) use this pattern and technique as a basis for future designs. I'm still new to this and had never even picked up a needle and thread or built anything from a pattern let alone try to design my own. I've attempted a few other ideas by making alterations, most of which havent worked (so plenty of scrap foam and fabric piled in the corner)

What tips, tricks or advice do you have to change head shape (for example very round like a ball or horizontally squashed like a football) or add certain features (like an elongated chin)? So far I've found that if I insert a couple of inches above the mouth and lengthen the pattern I can get an elongated head (pill shape).

Is there anything I should keep in mind with regard to size ratio's when patterning? For example, making sure the top mouth is the same size as the bottom so they meet? Is there a particular way to create darts in the foam so the head shape is correct? My free hand attempts have been lop sided so far.

I know these are probably very basic questions but I'm still trying to get my head around the 'engineering' side of design without wasting too much foam and fabric.

Thanks in advance



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    Hi David,

    Sounds like you are off to a great start!  Making your own patterns can be challenging, but eventually it starts to become second nature.  A big part of that is learning how 3D forms can be unwrapped to create 2D patterns, which can be a bit to get your head around! 

    One thing that has helped me a lot over the years has been creating my patterns off 3D prototypes, rather than starting with 2D fabric and trying to create a 3D shape out of it.  To use your basketball vs. football analogy, I would learn how to make those shapes by patterning them off the 3D forms.  A good way to do that is to wrap them in cellophane, and then wrap them with packing tape to create a shell around them.  The cellophane keeps the tape from sticking to your form, and the packing tape provides the structure.  You can then use a marker to draw in lines to split that shape up into a number of pieces that you can cut out as 2D pieces that can lay perfectly flat.  If they don't lay flat, add a dart or split them into more pieces.  Those pieces then serve as the templates for recreating that 3D form.

    The big challenge is learning where to cut the pieces, and how to pattern in as few pieces as possible with seam lines as hidden as possible.  That comes with time!

    To address your question about darts, you can cut darts into foam to adjust the shape.  How you go about that depends on where the darts need to be, what type of shape adjustment you are trying to make, and the properties of the material you are working with.  You mentioned your attempts coming out lopsided.  One thing that can help with that is rather than cutting a single larger dart, cut two smaller darts on opposite sides.  It's important to keep a center line marked (or at least track it mentally) so you can insure any changes you make balance out.

    Hope that helps, and I can't wait to see what type of projects you create!


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