How to Make a Trash Can Puppet

This project is called a trash can puppet for two reasons. It's cylindrical, like a trash can, and it's made from leftover bits of fabric that might otherwise end up in a trash can. Use leftover materials you have on hand to make yours as wacky and as wonderful as you like.

This project will take a little bit of sewing skill, but if you have used a sewing machine before, it should be within your reach.It's very easy to do with your kids


  1. 1
    Choose some leftover fabric. It will help if the fabric has a bit of stiffness to it. This sample started out as corduroy and some reclaimed denim from an old pair of jeans. If your leftover fabric isn't stiff enough or if you think it should be stiffer, iron it to some interfacing before you sew.
  2. 2
    Cut two circles. A round object, such as a pot lid, bowl, or CD, will help. Here, the red corduroy will become the top of the puppet's head and the black denim will be the inside of the mouth.
    • Make these circles decently large, about 6 inches (15cm) in diameter. You can size the other piece to them, so don't worry about the exact diameter.
    • Sew a zig-zag stitch around the edges of the rounds if necessary to keep them from fraying.
  3. 3
    Pin the two rounds together, right sides together.
  4. 4
    Sew around the rounds in a semicircle. Sew only halfway around, leaving the other half open.
  5. 5
    Cut reliefs around this semicircle. Reliefs help keep the fabric along a curved seam from bunching and puckering when it's turned right side out.
  6. 6
    Cut a rectangle of fabric. Make the length of this rectangle the same as the circumference of the circle, plus a little extra for seam allowance. Make it as long as you want the neck of the puppet, plus a bit for a lower hem and upper seam allowance.
  7. 7
    Sew a zig-zag stitch around the edge of this rectangle, as necessary to keep it from fraying.
  8. 8
    Sew the ends of the rectangle together, right sides together, to form a tube. Then, fold over twice and hem the end that will be the bottom of the puppet.
  9. 9
    Pin the tube to the loose flaps on the head. You'll have to think inside out a little.
    • Pin right sides together but wrong sides out.
    • Start at the back of the head, and place the seam from the tube so it will end up at the back of the head.
    • Another view of the pinned puppet.
      Pin all the way around. You should end up with the top of the tube pinned halfway around to the loose part of the back of the head (here, red corduroy) and the other half pinned to the loose part of the bottom of the mouth (here, black denim). It should look like the finished puppet, only inside out.
  10. 10
    Sew all the way around the top of the tube, where you have just pinned. Half of this seam will go into the head fabric; the other half will go into the mouth fabric. This is the last major seam for this puppet.
    • Remove the pins and turn the puppet right side out at this point, to make sure you're on the right track.
  11. 11
    Relieve the rounded seams you just sewed.
  12. Image titled Trash_can_puppet_14
    Turn the puppet right side out to see the basic shape.
  13. 13
    Make a tack or pleat to close up the neck a little bit (optional).
  14. 14
    Decorate the puppet any way you want. You can glue or sew on eyes, hair, ears, a tongue, horns, or just about anything else. See the sock puppet article for lots of ideas. This puppet has yarn hair and a larger variation on these yarn eyeballs that started with short chunks of PVC pipe.


  • A similar design.
    Now that you know how this puppet goes together, keep in mind that the head and mouth fabric does not need to be circular, and the top of the head does not need to be flat. You can make a beak or nose, or sew the head into a cone or other shape. Just cut the mouth to follow the shape of the head and size the lower tube accordingly.


  • Be careful of using small parts on puppets for very small children. If you're not sure, wait until they're at least three years old to give them a puppet like this.

Article Info

Featured Article

Categories: Featured Articles | Animal Crafts | Puppets