How to Make a Portable Puppet Theater in a Doorway

Do your kids love to put on puppet shows? Encourage those precious performances with an easy-sew, space-saving theater that can be hung in a doorway with inexpensive tension rods.

By: Carla Wiking

A puppet theater is sure to spark hours of creative play. If you can sew a straight line you can turn any doorway into the perfect, easy-to-store puppet theater. It will fit a standard doorway and should easily hide the average preschooler, but feel free to change the measurements to fit the needs of your home and children.

Tools and Materials

  • 1 yard of fabric for the bottom panel
  • 1 yard of dark fabric for the backdrop
  • 1 yard of decorative fabric for the valance
  • 4-2/3 yards of fabric for the curtains or a set of ready-made curtains
  • sew-on snaps or Velcro
  • ribbon, twill or bias tape
  • (2) small tension rods
  • coordinating thread
  • scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • iron and ironing board
  • sewing machine

Step 1: Cut Fabric

Cut the bottom panel fabric and backdrop fabric into rectangles measuring 36” wide x 45” long. Cut the valance fabric into a rectangle 36” wide x 29” long. Cut the curtain fabric in half so that you have two 2-1/3 yard lengths. Cut two small rectangles for the curtain tiebacks measuring 5” wide x 14” long.

Step 2: Hem Side and Bottom Edges

The bottom panel and the dark background will need the sides hemmed. (Note: your curtain fabric will have finished selvedge edges so side hems are totally optional.) Fold the raw edge of the side measuring 45” long in 1/2” towards the wrong side of the fabric and iron, fold it over another 1/2" so that the raw edge is no longer visible. Iron the hem, pin and then sew. Repeat this process for the bottom edges of the bottom panel and the curtain panels.

Step 3: Create Slots for Rods

Create a slot for the tension rod to slide through. On the top of the bottom panel, fold the raw edge 1/2” towards the wrong side of the fabric and iron. Then fold it over again, this time 1-1/2” to create a channel that the tension rod can slide through. Iron, pin and then sew along the folded edge. If you are not using pre-made curtains, repeat these steps for each curtain panel.

Step 4: Sew Valance

Fold the valance piece lengthwise, right sides together. Sew with a 1/2” seam allowance along each short side. Turn the piece right-side out and iron along the seams.

Step 5: Join Valance and Backdrop

Line up the top edges on the valance and the top edge of the background fabric. With a 1/2” seam allowance, sew the two pieces together. Finish the raw edges with a zigzag, serger or pinking shears.

Step 6: Add Valance Ties

To secure the assembled valance to the top tension rod, sew on three simple ties. At the center and each edge of the joined valance/backdrop piece, pin and sew a folded 10” piece of ribbon or twill tape to the seam allowance right below the sewn seam.

Step 7: Make Curtain Tiebacks

Fold the tieback fabric in half lengthwise with right sides together. With a 1/2” seam allowance, sew up one short side and along the long side. Turn the piece right side out, tuck the open edge in, press and sew it closed. Sew on snaps or Velcro to opposite short sides of the tie to make a cuff when snapped. Repeat steps for the second tie.

Step 8: Install Puppet Theater

Thread one tension rod through the bottom panel and hang it in the doorway so that the bottom edge skims the floor. Thread the curtain panels onto the second rod and hang it close to the top of the doorway. Place the valance/backdrop piece over the rod with the curtains and tie into place in between the curtains and at each end. Flip the valance piece over the top of the rod so it's hanging in the front of the rod and the backdrop is hanging in the back of the rod. Lastly, tie back the curtains with the tie pieces by snapping them around each side.

Step 9: Put on a Show

Kids can hide behind the bottom panel and pop up their puppets in front of the background for a professional looking show!

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