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Teddy Bear DIY Tutorial and Pattern - Part 2

Teddy Bear DIY Tutorial and Pattern

Teddy Bear DIY Tutorial and Pattern - Part 2.  The part 1 is here.

 When I'm at the stuffing stage, I always work on the head first.  This is the most time consuming piece to finish, as this is where all the character of the bear is formed, so in fact today will be only part 1 of the head.

This is where I grab my trusty stuffing stick (which is effectively a dowel with a flattened off end, and a handle), my chopstick, my forceps, and a large bag of bouncifill stuffing.  There are many grades of toy stuffing, but the stuff you get at bargain basement rates in your local craft superstore are, well, exactly what you expect from bargain basements quality-wise...  My many bear making friends favour a few different high end brands, and there are some that like to use woodwool as well, but my favourite is Bouncifill.  Now I realise that this is considerably more expensive than the basic stuff, but it packs like a dream, and I don't get lumpy bits, as it allows me to work and blend it inside the piece I'm stuffing (and I buy it by the bale anyway, which makes it cheaper).

To stuff, you use small pieces and gradually add them.  While it's very tempting to just shove large chunks in there, it does not make for a happy and smooth finish!  This is roughly the size I use for each piece I stuff in (note that this is in its uncompressed state):

Stuffing, especially the head, is time consuming to get a nice, smooth finish, which is to the density you would like.  I admit I'm a fairly firm stuffer, which takes me longer than the softer stuffers, but especially in the head, I found this gave the best results.  Using the stuffing stick in the beginning, I start in the nose and get a 'base fill' in there which is fairly loosely stuffed, then I move to the top of the head and work down, firming up the nose as I go past it.  Then I check for any holes in my stuffing and use a mixture of the stuffing stick, chopstick and forceps, depending on the size and location of the hole.

Now I'm happy with the stuffing, I remove all my tacking stitches:

At this point I dig out my 'position eyes'.  These are effectively eyes on a pin, and come in sets (usually mini, small and large, depending on the seller)  Because of the pin back, you can move them around the head to find the best place for the eyes.

I don't want to actually insert the eyes at this point, but I need to see where they're going so I can do the rest of the face around.  On some bears I would do some needle sculpting to create the eye sockets and bridge of the nose, however this wee guy looks just fine as he is.  If I were though, I'd use topstitching thread, and starting at the end of the muzzle, create a zig zag of stitches to build up the bridge of the nose, finishing just next to where the pins for my eyes are, going back and forth a few times to create my eye sockets.  Please note that I'd have broken out the big guns for this, using my doll needles, since they're sufficiently long to allow me to do this easily (why are they doll needles though, and not teddy needles?  Enquiring minds want to know...)

Now that the base structure of the head is there, it's time to get on to the finer touches.  I always start with the nose, pondering the best shape for it.  Sometimes I use nostrils, like for Bluegrass:

Teddy Bear DIY Tutorial and Pattern

And other times I use a more rectangular shape, like for Maple:

Teddy Bear DIY Tutorial and Pattern

As TBB II is Maple's mini-me, he'll be getting the same shaped nose, so I break out the sticky back felt, and cut a base shape for it.   I check that this fits, then it's time to grab the fine tipped embroidery scissors to trim away the fur that will be underneath - nobody likes a hairy nose!

Sticking the felt down, I then apply magic tape all round to hold the fur out of the way, then I thread one of my ridiculously long doll needles with perle cotton #5, and starting in the centre of the nose, go down into the head, pulling only enough thread through to be able to remove the needle and tie off the end, then pull the other end back up so that it's taught.

I always work from the centre out to one edge, then go back to the centre and go out the other way.  

It usually takes 3 - 4 layers to build up a good nose, plus one layer for the mouth that I work in, and often by the end of this, I have holes in the tips of my index and middle fingers on my stitching hand - no-one ever said bear making was glamorous!

Now I start looking at the eye area, and the bridge of the nose to check the fur length.  I always trim back just behind the eyes, but sometimes the fur on the bridge of the nose obscures the eyes, and so needs a bit of a trim with those wee embroidery scissors.  Moving on to the shading, I grab my Copic markers and blender pen, then I gently start shading the eye sockets, moving the position eyes in and out to check the effect, and using the blender pen to smooth the colour in.  I often also blend out from the nose to help to show the bridge of the nose.  Once I'm happy, I give a quick blast with a hair dryer to set it.

Now it's time to insert the eyes.  I think there are more ways I've seen to insert eyes than I've had hot dinners, but this is how I do it.  I use linen thread, which is very strong, and use a double length of thread.   I put the thread through the loop on the back of the eye, then taking my needle nosed pliers, I crimp the wire down.  The one on the left is crimped and on the right is still open:

Using my bradawl, I go to where the pin from my position eye was, and use it to widen the hole a little, as well as working the path into the stuffing a bit for the needle.  Taking another ridiculously long doll needle, I go from the eye socket to the base of the head on the opposite side, aiming for about 1/4" - 3/8" from the edge, and making sure the 2 ends of the thread come out through different holes in the backing fabric, as I need to tie these off against the head eventually.

Finally it's time for the ears.  Using T-pins I mark out the corners of the ears, and then how I want them to cup.  Once I'm happy that they match, I then sew them in place using a ladder stich:

Teddy Bear DIY Tutorial and Pattern

Now I can start stuffing, and I usually do this up to the edge of the opening hole when I'm using nut and bolt joints, as I will need access to both sides of the joint for these (with cotter pins I could actually stuff all the way to the top)

Moving on to the legs, I stuff the feet completely first to allow me to create my 'pulled toes'.  Next, I take my T-pins and mark out where the tops of the toes are going to be.  I use a ruler to make sure that they come out evenly on both feet, then I use pearl headed pins to mark the bottom of the toes, again wielding the ruler to ensure it comes out evenly. As for the nose, I use #5 perle cotton for this, and I measure it out by following the path I'm going to sew, which is marked out below:

Like the nose, I thread my ridiculously large doll needle and work from the tip of the toe at position 1 above, going into the foot and out the stuffing hole, so I can tie off the end, then I rethread the needle with the other end and pull taught.  I work just outside the ultrasuede for the tips of the toes, so that it doesn't rip through as I pull tight.  The tiny stitches at the top are one of the best pieces of advice I have got on a beary forum, as they really help to pull the toes in.  I also make sure that after I've taken them, I come back to do the next stitch to join the toes together very slightly to the left of where the previous one has gone in, so that I don't get any obvious holes in my paw pads.

Teddy Bear DIY Tutorial and Pattern

Now it's time to put a little weight in there, so it's time to grab a couple of pop socks and the steel shot.  I don't use a huge amount of the shot, I just make up a little bag like this:

I tie the end off with a knot, then stuff it into the leg, before working more stuffing around it so that it can't be felt on the outside.  Then I finish stuffing my legs up to the bottom of the opening as for the arms.

When I'm working on stuffing the limbs of a bear, I stuff all the way up to the bottom of the opening, before putting the joint in place.  Looking at where I've marked the joint placement when I drew the pattern out, I grab my bradawl and make a hole at that point.  I then hold the bolt up against the hole, and snip about one warp and one weft thread from the backing fabric to enable me to thread the bolt through.  Before I thread, I add a washer and the joint disc, then push the bolt through.  (Note that in the photo below the joint isn't fully in place so I could actually show where it went)

Yay, we've finally reached the point where TBB II will look like a bear!

The first step in the final assembly is to deal with the head joint.  Now unlike the other joints, the head joint is not accessible at both ends, so I arm myself with the superglue for the next step!  Firstly I glue the washer to the joint disc and allow that to dry before I glue the bolt to the washer:

Once this is dry, I then insert it into the head, and stitch the opening closed using topstitch thread.  I work my way round with a running stitch to start with, and finally create a kind of mesh of stitches across the head on either side of the bolt.

Now remember those eye threads?  It's finally time to tie them off!  Because of where my threads come out, they should now be mostly under the joint disc, and I use this to help the tension when tying off the eye thread.  I also use a surgeon's knot to tie off the threads, before sewing the ends into the underside of the joint.   The head is always the first bit I attach to the body, as I use it as  point of reference for where other things will go.  This is the only joint that I don't normally use lock nuts for, as I have a slight fear of the superglue giving way when I'm screwing the nut on, so I use two regular nuts instead, which does the same job, however for the tiny bolts on this guy I don't have small enough regular nuts, so I dolloped on the superglue and it held okay.

Next it's time to add the legs, so I hold the bear by the neck joint and hold one of the legs up alongside until I find an optimum point for it to joint on, taking care to avoid the dart in the body (yes, I know this doesn't sound terribly technical, bear with me...)  Using my bradawl, I mark where the bolt for the joint is going to go in.  Now I grab my tape measure and measure down to the centre seam.  Measure the same distance up the other side, I then use the bradawl to mark that:

Here I grab a couple of spare bolts, and use them to go from the inside of the marked joint holes on the body piece, and hold the discs in place on that side.  I do this because the next step is to trim the fur that would be between the discs on the joint to allow them to get nice and tight.  Using the sharp pointed scissors from before, trim back all the fur that you can feel above the disc on both the body and the leg pieces:

Now I remove the bolts from the inside of the body, insert the bolt from the joint attached to one of the legs and using a lock nut, screw it into place until it's nice and tight.  I like my limbs to move, but not too freely, because I want my bears to be able to stand.  I usually do the lock nuts up tightly then unwind a couple of turns.  Then, repeat with the other leg, before moving on to the arms.  The arms are judged for placement in the same way as the legs, and attached in the same way.

Teddy Bear DIY Tutorial and Pattern

Now there's quite a few things to go in the tummy of this bear, so the first layer I put in is stuffing, which I especially use to cover the ends of the bolts.  Next I add some glass sand in the same way I added the steel shot to the legs.  I use glass sand in the body because it's finer, and even though I'm going to surround this with more stuffing, just in case there's any movement inside, I don't want a hard spot on the bear!  

A light layer of stuffing goes over the sand, and then on a larger bear, it's time for the growler, which goes in another pop sock to put it in to protect the inner workings from any stuffing getting into it, and then more stuffing surrounds it.  In the end the growler I ordered for this wee guy, although the smallest size, was just a bit too big for him, so you'll have to imagine him growling :o)  Without the growler, I finish adding stuffing until the entire body is full, then top up all the limbs with stuffing until they are also full.

Teddy Bear DIY Tutorial and Pattern

Finally it's time to ladder stitch all the seam openings closed, remove all the tacking stitches and give the whole bear a good fluff.

Teddy Bear DIY Tutorial and Pattern

Teddy Bear DIY Tutorial and Pattern

Teddy Bear DIY Tutorial and Pattern

"Gordon" 13" by Jumbuck Bears.

Teddy Bear DIY Tutorial and Pattern

You will need
1/4mtr of medium pile mohair
small piece of contrasting paw pad fabric
1 x 35mm joint set
1 pair of 9mm glass eyes
3ply perle for nose
1 x reel of strong sewing thread
Polyflock for stuffing

 Download Pattern


Teddy Bear DIY Tutorial and Pattern


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