Teddy Bears are special companions for us children and adults alike. In fact, there is a whole Teddy Bear Artisan world out there where people are creating beautiful sculptured bears and selling them to avid collectors.
They come in all sizes and it is amazing how wonderful you feel when you see your fabric turn into a moveable companion.
A Teddy Bear Example, Teddy Art, Shapland Art - created 2012
I started to make my own teddy bears about three years ago. I found an amazing bear Artisan from Western Australia and bought her teddy bear pattern to begin my learning journey.
I would like to share with you what I have learned along the way, how-to make your own teddy bear and introduce you to teddy bear designers and suppliers too.
This will be a series of articles as I make a bear from fabric to jointed companion, so hang in there. It will be worth it.
So, here we go.
Art and Craft Supplies
Spotlight carry excellent quality fat quart at reasonable prices. This is great to start with while you are learning to deal with fabric and hairy bits. I will talk about where to buy high quality bear making faux fur from later.
These can be found in teddy bear making magazines with instructions too. However, the pattern I am using is from Australian Bear Artist, Helen Gleeson, Bare Cub Designs.
NOTE - Helen Gleeson is an award winning Bear Artisan and Teacher. I love her work and one day I hope to be able to make bears as awesome as hers. She uses recycled furs.
Sharp dressmaking scissors and a small pair of sculpting scissors for the face.
Sharp needles with eye threader (optional)
Dolls needles to use for eye placement.
A fine tip marker pen to mark where the joints will go on the body, arms and legs.
Cotton for sewing - I like the extra strong cotton from Lincraft.
A set of joints - they can be screw, T-Pins or Cotter Pins. I will talk about where to sources these joints in a specific article soon.
Cotter Pin Turner to help roll cotter pins down to from the joint.
Screwdriver and socket set if using screw-in joints.
Glass Eyes - I get mine from Teddy Bits. I will go through this in more detail in another article.
Nose - You can choose from Embroidery cotton, buying a pre-formed glass nose or you can make your own out of Sculpy/Fimo which is quite a lot of fun.
Wool or Embroidery Cotton to form the mouth.
Stuffing - this can be Polyfil or one of the other variations on offer which I will go through a little later. I will be using Polyfil and some garnet to help weight him.
1. Make a photocopy of the bear pattern you would like to make, then cut it out with normal scissors.
This image shows the Mohair Fur and the backing fabric. You can also see the contrasting foot/paw pad Suede-like fabric too.
2. Pin your pieces to the back of the faux fur. Here, I am using fabric Mohair with a curly style.
NOTE - When placing your pattern on the bear fur, ensure that you put them so that they go with the grain of the fur. This pattern has an arrow showing which way the fur should be travelling on the body, limb, head etc.
This image shows the pattern pieces pinned to the back of the Mohair and Suede-like fabric ready to cut. I do move things around to make sure I get the most out of my fabric.
3. Cut around your pattern pieces very carefully using small scissor snips so that you do not cut the hair, only the fabric backing.
This image shows one side of the teddy head cut out very carefully so that the fur is not cut at all. This means you need to carefully snip around each piece. Always ensure that the fur is going the same direction as the arrow on the pattern piece before cutting.
4. Pin the inner ears, foot pads and paw pads to the suede-like fabric on the back side.
5. Cut around the pattern pieces and put them to one side.
6. Look at your pieces to make sure that you have:
1 x Gusset for the nose/head
2 x Side Heads (1 x Right; 1 x Left)
2 x Outer Ears
2 x Inner Ears
2 x Hand pieces
2 x Foot pad pieces
2 x Outer Legs (1 x Right; 1 x Left)
2 x Inner Legs (1 x Right; 1 x Left)
2 x Outer Arms (1 x Right; 1 x Left)
2 x Inner Arms (1 x Right; 1 x Left)
2 x Body pieces (1 x Right; 1 x Left)
This image shows the whole teddy bear cut out with the pattern pieces still pinned in place. Now we will be ready to start sewing.
Other When you start making teddy bears it is very hairy. Hair goes all over the place, so just be aware that you will need to keep brushing small bits from your work area.
It is also a very addictive pastime, especially when your teddy bear is complete and you see how awesome they have turned out.
Each and every teddy bear will be unique no matter if you use the same pattern or not. They just seem to have a personality all of their own that shines through when they are complete. I love that!