Last year, my sister-in-law made a beautiful doorway puppet theater for my nieces using this article from Country Living. I loved it so much I had taken a stab at it and made one as a gift for a friend's daughter's birthday. I had always meant to make one for H, but never got around to it. Now that it's finally gotten cold here in Boston and we're stuck inside, I decided it was time to make a new one - but I wanted to make it the easiest and cheapest way possible.
If you google "DIY doorway puppet theater" there are a lot of great tutorials out there, some with lots of sewing and others just using pressure curtain rods and curtains. I like the curtain rods as a no-sew option, but I had two issues with it: the doorway I'm using is fairly narrow, so there would be a lot of bunching of fabric, and I would need multiple curtains. Even at discount stores, curtains are just one of those things that cost more than you think they will.
So based mostly on the Country Living tutorial, I put together the following super cheap, pretty fast (this took about an hour), no sew (ok, a small amount of hand sewing!) tutorial for making a doorway puppet theater.
- A cotton curtain - mine was $7 from Christmas Tree Shoppes
- A pre-cut quilting square (1/4 yard) - $2.99 at A.C. Moore - for the curtains
- 1" wide sturdy ribbon
- Stitch witchery fabric bonding tape - around $3 a roll. Mine was 5/6" wide
- Needle, threads, and pins
- Iron and ironing board
- Optional: additional coordinating fabric
Before I start, just a quick note about Stitch Witchery. It should be called Stitch Awesomery. Before I learned how to use my sewing machine and when I was too poor to go to a tailor, I hemmed all of my pants using Stitch Witchery. It's "a fusible web that bonds two layers of fabric together when activated by a steam iron." You can wash it and take to the dry cleaners and it stays in place - and even if it eventually starts to fall you just whip out the iron and put in a new strip. It takes seconds. Obviously anywhere I've said to use the Stitch Witchery you can sew instead - if you want to make sure it lasts longer or want to give as a gift. Unlike other projects where the act of making something is the fun with your kid, this is pretty much an adults only craft, so I wanted to make it quick and simple so you can get it up and start the performances!
Step one: Cut the window for the stage
Step 2: Frame the stage
To keep the cut edges from fraying and the make the frame of the stage a bit sturdier, you're going to attach the ribbon around the outside edge of the stage window.
Step 3: Attaching the curtains
Step 4: A small amount of hand sewing to finish
Sew the remaining two pieces on the outside edge in line with the bottom of your stage. These will also hook onto nails or pushpins and will keep the bottom edge of your stage from sagging.
And that's it! Your theater is ready for it's first performance!
H and I set up some of her dolls and stuffed animals on some chairs and invited daddy in for a performance. We used a reading light as a spotlight and wowed the audience with our riveting performance of "Little Bunny Foo Foo", followed by the lengthy and rambling saga of "Doggy, Mermaid, and Baby Penguin Go to Preschool."