How Well Do You Outfit Your Puppets?
When you purchase a puppet, it usually comes with a shirt or outfit of some kind that works well for most plays, but some may call for a different look. In our collection of plays, we have one that takes place outside at the North Pole, another one in a garden, several in a soda shop, one involving a police officer, and a couple in western settings. In real life these settings use different kinds of clothing, but too often in puppet life they wear the same thing no matter what.
If you’re doing the play that takes place outside at the North Pole, it isn’t as believable if the puppets are wearing T-shirts. When you add hats, scarfs, sweaters, and mittens, what the audience sees matches what they hear and the skit becomes believable.
Places to Find Puppet Clothes
Most of our puppets wear a size 2T child’s shirt and there are places you can get them at low-cost or even free. One such place is to go to nearby yard sales. As you drive around, look for sales with a lot of kid’s toys on display and usually there will be a large assortment of children’s clothing along with them. The nice thing about getting clothes at a garage sale is they are usually the style and type that children are wearing, so your puppet’s clothes will fit right in.
Other places to look for inexpensive clothing are church rummage sales, Salvation Army or Good Will stores, local consignment shops, and clearance racks at department stores. Depending on the sale, you can pick up nice quality clothing for as little as 25 cents apiece. Sometimes you can get six or more items for a dollar.
Another potential source for free clothes is in your own church. Put out an announcement about the need and ask if anyone would be willing to donate items to the puppet team. You’ll probably find a number of people with children’s clothes that they no longer need and would give to your ministry.
You can also purchase clothes designed for puppets at places online such as Puppets from One Way Street and Puppets for Jesus.
If you know someone who likes to sew, they may be willing to make some clothes for you, especially if they see it as a ministry opportunity.
What to Look For in Clothing
Look for clothes that button or zip since they are easier to get on and off your puppet. It’s also a good idea to get a variety of clothes; short sleeve, long sleeve, T-shirts, dress shirts or blouses, polo style shirts, etc. Also, if you do any winter plays, look for hats, scarves, mittens, and sweaters.
While you’re at the yard sale, look for one or two small suitcases to store the clothes. We found a couple of nice, soft-side suitcases at a yard sale for only one dollar apiece. We had one suitcase for fall and winter clothes and a second one for spring and summer outfits.
The clothes that come with your puppet work fine, but consider developing a puppet wardrobe to add variety and help the audience better experience your plays.