All of my birthday shirts are created around two main ideas:
- Show off the birthday kiddo’s new age prominently
- A detachable toy that looks great on the shirt and is fun to play with off the shirt
For my unicorn birthday shirts, I wanted something different than the most common unicorn shirt out there. It’s not a disembodied unicorn horn and eyelashes but a happy, whimsical rainbow and a complete, and oh-so-adorable, unicorn puppet.
Although I designed the entire shirt from my own sketches, I’m the proudest of my finger puppet. It’s just so cute! And it was a big change from my first shirt collection and a new direction that will help me grow.
With my monster shirts, I had to find a toy company willing to let me use their toys as a part of my shirt. I lucked out and found a great one with high-quality toys who was willing to give a new business a chance. But sourcing toys is tough work! Starting that process over for every new shirt design would really wipe me out.
How I Created My Custom Unicorn Puppet
I wasn’t intending to make my own toy but got the idea after lots of failed searches. The majority of the unicorn toys I could find either looked cheap and flimsy or were only a unicorn head. Since I wasn’t going for a Godfather theme with this shirt I was forced to be creative to find the perfect toy.
Much like how my search for a birthday shirt for Aidan’s second birthday (and failure to find the one I had in mind) turned into creating Yippitee, this failure to find a cute puppet also ended up working in my favor.
During my search, while looking at a few fabric finger puppets I realized I could probably get an embroidered patch created of whatever image I wanted and then sew that into a finger puppet. It would mean a less bulky toy on the shirt as well, which was something I was hoping to improve on future shirts.
I sketched for weeks, poring over pictures of horses standing, leaping, and sitting online to get the structure right. My first “final” sketch that I ran by family and friends was a very tall mature unicorn that I really liked but just wasn’t in love with.
During the drawing process I ended up making a few clay unicorns (thanks to my rekindled love for Sculpey!) and eventually used those as models for my drawings. Which was the perfect way to get to the adorable baby unicorn I ended up with. I shared a video glance at all my sketches (good and bad!) over here on my Facebook page if you care to take a look.
I then had to find someone who could turn my image into a patch and then test different sewing those patches onto different backing materials to find the perfect combination that would be comfortable and hold up to lots of snapping and unsnapping.
The end result was perfection! It took me quite a while to get to that moment but it was so worth it and I’m so excited to design even more custom Yippitee finger puppets for future birthday shirts!
PS: get professionally designed rainbow unicorn party freebies including cupcake wrappers, toppers, party favor bag tags, and thank you cards on my Freebies page!