Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Puppet Clothing- Mail Man

In this post I'm going to be talking about making the uniform for my Mail Man character. The two Mail Man puppets my brother and I will be using to film have already been bulked out and padded with foam (Which you can see HERE) so now it's time to start making some clothes.

Although this character is slender, the clothes I make will still need to be quite tight fitting. This is because I've padded the puppet in such a way that any baggy areas of clothing are actually filled with sponge. This tight fit over sponge should maintain the baggy look from my design, but also reduce the amount of 'boiling' or unwanted movement from the clothes when animating.

To get a tight fit on my character's clothing I decided to make paper templates of each section of the Mail Man's uniform. To help work out how different items of clothing are pieced together I would recommend searching online, many different templates for a wide range of clothing can be found for free around the Internet. Using templates for this character's clothing is especially important since I will be making this uniform twice and I want each puppet's clothes to look identical.
Using some paper and a pen, I made templates straight from my padded out puppet, curving the paper around the forms of the puppet and drawing markers for the measurements. I then cut out each shape to test if they still fitted, remembering to label everything.
To the left, on the picture above, are the original paper templates for the Mail Man's jacket. Note that the same template was used for each sleeve. To the right are a copy of the templates with approximately 10mm extra space added around the circumference for the seams. It was this set of templates that were pinned to the fabric to draw the out the shapes using chalk.

Here is a picture of the fabrics I collected to make the Mail Man's uniform. I tried hard to find materials that replicated the look of the fabrics in my final design, and yet were still suitable for my puppet.
I had to keep in mind that although the colour and appearance of some fabrics may look right, at the 1/6th scale of the puppet, the size of the weave could look huge, destroying the illusion of this miniature world. In some cases this 'chunkification' might work, But I wanted the fabric to not cause any distraction from the look or scale of my film.
I also didn't wanted fabric that is too thick since it is harder to sew at such a small scale and can restrict the puppets movement.
I am very pleased with the fabric I've found. There are two types of blue, one for the trousers and a slightly darker one for the jacket (This helps to add variation, texture and interest to the uniform) some white cotton for the shirt and red ribbon for some trimming and his tie.

To help my puppet stand while his clothes were fitted, the armatures for his feet were returned along with some new silicone shoes. Pictured above are the shoes fresh from the mould ready to be trimmed. You can find out more about the moulding process for these shoes HERE.

Here is a shot of a test fitting for both pairs of trousers. Like any type of clothing, the patterns were sewn together using a sewing machine and then turned inside out for a clean seam. The trousers were left longer at the waist and foot to allow for adjustments. The length of the trousers were shortened once on the puppet.

To make things easier, I decided to glue the hem of the trousers using contact adhesive as opposed to stitching at such a small scale. The long fabric was trimmed and folded back inside the leg.

To the left, on the picture above, are the Mail Man's Jacket and trousers straight from the sewing machine. On the image to the right, The jacket arms have been shortened to the correct position of the characters wrist and cuffs have been added. In a similar way to the hem of the trousers, the cuffs required no extra sewing to create.

To make the cuffs I started by trimming the overly long jacket arms to about 5mm too short of where they should be at the wrists. Their edges were then glued back on themselves to stop the fabric from fraying. The idea is to add the cuff section using new strips of fabric to make up the arm length. The new cuff section should hide the original shortened arm fabric and appear to be part of the same sleeve folded back on it's self  creating a cuff.
For my cuffs I used strips of the same blue fabric used for the jacket , cut to match the measurement of the wrist. all the edges were folded back on themselves and glued with contact adhesive to stop the fabric from fraying. I also added some red trim to my cuffs by gluing thin ribbon folded along one edge (pictured above). The sewn edges of the ribbon even look as though it has been stitched to the fabric.

The final stage in creating the cuffs was to add a small loop of white cotton fabric, glued inside the jacket cuff to suggest a white shirt underneath.

In the next part I'll talk about the fabrication of the rest of the white shirt, as well as the collars, red tie and finishing touches such as the jacket pockets.

Thanks for looking.


  1. Interesting process watching you dress your mailman puppet. The finished clothing looks very convincing!

  2. hi nathan when I mold to make the corp of my character in 2 parts. 2 sticks them and I can not lift my character remained inside
    What is the plaster to use?
    I hope you understood;)