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Basic How to Make a Teddy Bear Directions
Prepare Pattern Pieces
Print out pattern pieces (see my Tips!) - then cut out pieces on INSIDE of the lines.
To start... print out enough pieces so you have the entire teddy bear in pattern pieces (print out 4 legs, 2 head sides, 2 inner arms,....)
This way you can lay out the entire bear on your fabric before drawing it out to be sure you have enough fabric... or if you can change the layout to be sure it all fits.
How do I lay my pattern pieces out?
Since you are working with a furry fabric, you want to lay your pattern pieces out so the fur lies in the correct direction on your finished bear.
Lay your fabric face up on your table. Run your hand over the fur to see which way the fur lies down. Now carefully turn your fabric over, and draw an arrow (on an edge) on the back of your fabric in the same direction as your fur lies down.
When you place your pattern pieces on the back of the fabric, lay them out with the arrows going down... the same direction as the arrow you drew on the fabric.
Be sure you have: 1 right head side, 1 left head side, 1 head gusset, 4 ears, 1 right body piece, 1 left body piece, 1 right inner arm, 1 left inner arm, 1 right outer arm, 1 left outer arm, 2 rights, 2 left legs, 1 right pawpad, 1 left pawpad, 2 footpads. (the pawpads and footpads are generally cut out of felt or ultrasuede fabric, not the fur.
I use masking tape rolls on the back of each pattern piece to keep them in place. Trace around each pattern with a permanent marker or gel pen. Be sure to mark all joint marks... and seam openings (if marked on the patterns)
Cutting the Bear Out
It is important to cut ONLY the backing of the fabric with a sharp, small scissors. Cut on the INSIDE of the lines. My scissors of choice for this are Fiskars Softouch Micro-Tip Scissors. They are awesome! Their "Softouch" design really does a good job to help keep my hands from getting sore. You can get them at JoAnn.com below!
Sew the pieces together
As you first pin your pieces together, be sure to tuck all the fur to the inside. This will give you nice clean seams.
Use enough pins so that the pieces do not slide around... the fur makes the pattern pieces want to shift a bit more than regular fabric would. Or, if you are like me... you can now hand baste your bear parts together with a whip stitch, remove the pins, and then start sewing (either by machine or by hand)
Fur sides together, match up the right and left body pieces together, pin, baste if you prefer, and sew. Leave a opening at the back to turn and stuff.
Match 2 head side pieces together and sew the chin seam from the tip of the nose down to the neck opening. To insert the head gusset, match the line on the nose of the head gusset up to the seam of the 2 head sides. Tack in place at the seam. Pin the gusset in place, then baste together with a whip stitch.
Sew the gusset in place. I prefer to hand sew the front of the gusset in (the nose and eye area) and then I machine sew the rest. REMOVE basting stitches!
Match the paw pads up to the corresponding inner arms and sew with a 3/8� seam allowance. Now match up the inner arms to the correct outer arms. Pin and sew - making sure to leave open where indicated to turn and stuff.
Match legs � be sure that each leg has one outer let and one inner leg. The inner leg will have the joint marking. Pin and sew closed, making sure to leave the seam opening open � and also the bottom of the foot.
Insert the footpad: Match up the lines on the footpads to the seams on the feet. Tack in place. Pin the rest of the footpad in place, baste together with a whipstitch. Sew in place with a backstitch. REMOVE basting stitches.
Match up both pairs, sew from one corner, around the curve to the other corner. Leave the straight edge open.
Turn all pieces right side out, use a needle or awl to pick out fur that may be trapped in the seams.
I like to take my fiberfill stuffing and pull it apart into small balls of fluff about an inch in diameter. Take your first couple of bits and stuff it firmly (with your stuffing tool � using the tool really does help get it nice and firm!) into the arm, all the way to the tip of the pawpad. Be sure to stuff the pawpad area nice and firm.
Now I insert the joint assembly. The cotterpin joint is the easiest joint to start with in my opinion, so that is what will be described here. Assemble the cotterpin joint as shown:
Take your awl or sharpened chopstick and find the joint marking on the inside of the arm. It will be on the inside of the arm� the side WITH the pawpad on it. Now pierce the mohair fabric� try to just separate the threads and not cut them if possible. Make an opening just large enough for the cotterpin to go thru. The disc will be on the inside of the arm.
Now to finish stuffing the arm. Do you want a firm bear or a slightly squishy bear? Stuff the bear until he feels right to YOU. As you near the seam opening� slow down stuffing a little. You need to allow some fabric for closing the seam. Close your seam using your upholstery thread.. doubled�using a ladder stitch (See below)
I like to start closing my seams before he�s quite all the way stuffed. As I close, I add little bits more of stuffing� so he�s not too soft, not too hard� but juuuust right! (Sorry, couldn�t resist!)
After you have finished closing the seam, tie it off and hide the threads
Now that the arm is done, set it aside and finish the other parts�.
I stuff my legs much the same way I stuff my arms� but with one difference. I often add glass pellets or steel bb�s to my bears feet. It helps them to stand up. (If you are sending this bear across a country�s border, however, I recommend NOT using metal bb�s!)
I like to start with a small layer of fiberfill in the bottoms of the feet� and then I add my pellets, bb�s or what have you. I then add more fiberfill to the top of the foot and up the ankle a bit. I recommend stuffing this area firmly to give him support to stand.
Assemble the cotterpin joint as shown earlier. Take your awl or sharpened chopstick and find the joint marking on the inside of the leg. Remember� you will have 1 Right Leg and 1 Left Leg! Now pierce the mohair fabric� try to just separate the threads and not cut them if possible. Make an opening just large enough for the cotterpin to go thru. The disc will be on the inside of the leg.
Now to finish stuffing the leg. Do you want a firm bear or a slightly squishy bear? Although I recommend firmly stuffed legs, stuff the bear until he feels right to YOU. As you near the seam opening� slow down stuffing a little. You need to allow some fabric for closing the seam. Close your seam using your upholstery thread.. doubled�using a ladder stitch (shown earlier). I like to start closing my seams before he�s quite all the way stuffed. As I close, I add little bits more of stuffing here and there to fill in.
After you have finished closing the seam, tie it off and hide the threads (shown earlier)
You want to stuff the head nice and evenly. Are you right handed or left handed? I am right handed and like to hold the bear�s head in my left hand, and stuff with my right hand. If you are left handed, you may want to do it the other way around.
I like to stuff the nose first. Take small bits of stuffing and stuff FIRMLY into the nose. This part must be very firmly stuffed as it will make it much easier when you embroider his nose.
I usually stuff the nose area about 1/3 � � way to start and then start adding stuffing to the rest of the head. Now I finish stuffing the nose� very firmly. I find that doing it this way helps to keep the stuffing in the nose area.
When I stuff the head, I turn it in a circle as I add fiberfill. It helps me to keep my stuffing job even when I do it that way. Make sure the head, and especially the nose, are very firmly stuffed.
Now� if you wanted to.. you could insert your neck joint and close up the head�. But I like to embroider the nose while the neck is still open. I like to be able to add more stuffing as needed, or shift it if necessary while I am embroidering the nose. My directions will be written in that order as that is how I do it. But you can change that order around if you prefer!
EMBROIDERING the NOSE
Decide what shape nose you would like your bear to have. If you are not sure, cut out some felt shapes and hold them against the bear�s snout. When I am doing a nose, I like to use the 3 inch needle� a good sharp one!
Start with a length of pearle cotton about 30� long. I prefer to use 2 shorter pieces than one long piece as I find the long pieces get knotted up too easily.
I enter the bear�s nose thru the side, and don�t pull the pearle cotton all the way thru, let a short tail hang out� don�t put a knot in the end of the floss! Bring your needle up near a top corner of where you want your nose to be, and then outline the shape of the nose. Now I take my scissors and trim the fur away from the area where I want to embroider the nose.
Now stitch the nose. I prefer to make vertical stitches, but you can do horizontal if you like. Those outline stitches will help you keep the nose nice and even. I like to start in the middle, and take a few stitches to the right, and then left, working the nose out to both ends at the same time. If you have trouble getting the needle thru sometimes, use your needlenose pliers to help you. I use mine a lot!
When you come near the end of your strand � thread it onto your long 5� needle, and with your next stitch, go thru to the back of the neck on the other side of the head. Pull it nice and taut and snip the pearle cotton. Start your next piece the same way you started the first. When the nose is all done, carefully snip the beginning ends of the pearle cotton that you left hanging on his snout. Be sure to use a very sharp pair of scissors so you don�t leave any pieces hanging..
**Now� as I am stitching the nose with the neck still open, I keep adding little bits of fiberfill here and there as needed. I also am able to re-adjust the snout to be centered as it sometimes goes a little lopsided while I am stitching the nose.
He does not have a mouth yet� I prefer to do that after his neck is closed.
CLOSING THE NECK
Now your head is all stuffed.. and if you chose to do the nose first, it is all stitched. Time to close up the neck.
Here is what you need to close the neck: 1 � disc for neck joint, 1 � large washer, 1- cotterpin. 1 � length of waxed floss for closing.
Assemble the cotterpin joint as shown earlier. Sit the bear�s head in your lap or on your table upside down so the opening is up. Set the assembled joint inside. Thread your waxed thread on your 3� needle and sew a gathering stitch all around the neck opening. Leave a long tail to start and to end. I like to start and end at the back of the neck.
Now first make sure both tail ends are about the same length and pull the opening closed tightly. Tie a square knot. The waxed thread really helps here as it helps to keep the knot. I don�t stop there, however. I want to be sure this stays closed
Now I take each tail end of the floss and make large back stitches all round the joint, ending up at where I started. Do this with both tails. Now tie another square knot and sink the tails into the head (take your large 5� needle and go into the head right next to the knot, going thru to the other side of the head. Tug to pull the knot on the other side and then snip off the tails that now come out on the top part of the head. You now have a VERY secure neck joint! See the photos below for more details
I like to take another length of pearle cotton, and come up to the center of the nose from the lower back side of the head (near the neck joint) leaving a about 6� of the pearle cotton hanging out near the neck. I take that length and bring it thru also� going in thru the head just a small space away from the first place, but coming out at a different spot on the head where I then clip it away. This helps anchor the pearle cotton in place.
Now you can decide what shape mouth you would like to have. It may help to �outline� the mouth shape with some ball headed pins. Stitch the mouth and when you are done, bring the tail ends all the way thru the head near the same place you entered � and snip the ends.
The head is done for now.. I know he can�t see or hear you yet�. But it will be much easier to attach his eyes and ears when he is able to sit up on his own!
Jointing the Bear
Now he�s really coming together! It�s time to put all of your bear�s parts and pieces together now. I like to start with the head. There is a small gap (marked on the inside) in the neck seam where his head joint will fit. I use my sharpened chopstick to GENTLY open this area up. I push it thru from the inside to out. I don�t poke it all the way thru, I just want the point to come out to the fur side.
Take your jointed head, and slip the cotterpin joint thru the neck opening. Now turn the body slightly inside out, so you can slip the 2nd neck disc and 2nd large washer over the cotterpin that is now sticking into the inside of the bear�s body.
Carefully, with your needlenose pliers, turn each side of the cotterpin to secure the head to the body. (See below)
I attach the arms next, ending with the legs. To attach the limbs, take your awl or chopstick and gently poke a hole (separate the threads) at the joint markings. Make an opening just large enough for each cotterpin to go thru. Attach the limb (Make sure it is facing in the correct direction!!). Now take limb disc & washer and slip them over the cotterpin on the inside of the body in the order listed. Now, with your needlenose pliers, turn each side of the cotterpin to secure each limb to the body. (just as before).
Now you have your bear all assembled and it�s time to fill his tummy!
You can make your bear as firm or as squishy as you like, but it is easier for your bear to sit up if he is at least slightly firm. This is how I stuff my bears�
I start with a thin layer of fiberfill in the bottom, especially around the leg joints. Then, I usually add my pellets for weight. I prefer glass pellets, but you could use plastic pellets, stainless steel bb�s,�) How many do you add? I just pour some in and then feel how heavy the bear is. Till he feels right to you!
Now add more fiberfill. I find it easier at this point to lay him on his tummy, face down. Keep adding fiberfill till he is the firmness you like. Don�t forget to add fiberfill at his neck! This is an area that is very important so he can hold his head up. Close up his back with a ladderstitch (shown earlier) adding small bits of fiberfill as you close� as needed.
You can now sit your teddy up to face you so that you can finish his face!
I like to do the eyes first, then the ears. It really does not matter, do it however you are comfortable.
To insert the eyes you will need: The pair of glass eyes, the pair of waxed eye floss strands (should all be in the same packet) 5� long needle, needlenose pliers, awl (or sharpened chopstick), ball headed straight pins.
First, fold each length of eye floss in half. Be sure each � is even. Now, loop end first, thread that thru the wire on each glass eye
Pull the loop a little bit thru the eye wires, now take the tail and pull it thru that loop:
Now pull the tails tightly, and you have tied the glass eye to the waxed floss securely.
Take a look at your bear� where do you want the eyes to be? Use your ball headed pins to help you place them. The common place is right where the forehead starts to slope up, just on the outside of the gusset seam. Be sure NOT to place them directly on the seam as that will weaken the head. Move the eyes (pins) away from and closer to the gusset to see which look pleases you best.
When you are ready to insert the eyes, first, thread the tails of the waxed floss from one of the eyes onto your 5� needle. Take your awl (chopstick) and carefully poke a small hole (separate the threads of the backing) where one of your pins is located. Now, take your threaded 5� needled and insert it thru that hole, coming out down at the neck of your bear, on the opposite side of the eye. Do the same for the other eye
At the back of the bear now, separate the tails of the floss for one of the eyes. With one tail, take a small stitch so it is next to its other tail, but not in the same hole. Do the same for the other eye�s floss tail.
Carefully tie one knot (just over once) and pull gently. Push gently on the eyes to help them sink in� but you don�t want to pull too tightly and accidentally break the glass eyes! Pushing gently on the eyes helps sink the eyes without breaking them. Now go back to those floss tails and tie a square knot. Sink the ends.
Using a 24� length of upholstery thread, whipstitch the ears closed and do NOT cut off the end! Tie off a quick knot to secure it, but leave the thread hanging from each ear. You will use these to attach them to the head.
Now you have 2 closed ears with threads hanging from them. Position the ears onto your bear & pin them to your bear�s head. Move them about until you are happy with their placement. You can really play with a bear�s expression by moving those ears about! To make sure they are even, take a look at your bear in the mirror, and also look down on his head from above. These tricks can help you place them evenly.
When you have the ears placed as you like, you just whipstitch them into place (removing pins as you go) � very much like how you closed the ears in the first place. But� on the ears when you just brought the thread OVER the ear and went thru on the front, you will bring the needle thru the head instead.
When you finish at the bottom of the ear, tie a knot and hide the threads just like you did when you closed the seams.
Now you can brush your new friend and accessorize him if you like! I hope you enjoyed creating your teddy bear!