This will be my final post about teddy bears for a while. In my last post I explained how to sew a teddy bear, and now I’m describing the final steps towards a complete home-made bear.
Where we left off.
Step four: The head:
The head turns out somewhat triangular with this pattern, which can be good, if that’s what you want (I like some versatility in my patterns). If you want a rounder head shape, this can be done by laying the finished head (turned right side in) flat on its back and sewing a rounded seam approximately down the middle of the head (you basically cut or round the corners of the head). Do this symmetrically on both sides of the head.
Front view of the head and how the corners are rounded somewhat.
If you’re using plastic safety eyes, now is the time to place them on the bear’s face. Do this by filling the head loosely with wadding and use pins or “true eyes” (glass eyes on pins) to decide where the eyes are going to be. Remove the wadding (make sure your pins stay put) and fasten the safety eyes as described in the package you bought. If you’re using a plastic safety nose, you fasten this by the same procedure.
When you’re satisfied with your head, it’s time to turn it right sides out and fill it with wadding or some other filling material. The best way to do this is to work with smaller amounts of filling, as this gives you better control of the finished head. You should make sure that every little nook inside the head is filled out – no sagging fabric above insufficient filling. A rule of thumb is that the finished head should be as firm as a tennis ball.
After filling the head, it’s time for ear placement. When you’ve placed your ears where you want them (again – symmetrically), simply lay them flat pointing backwards and pin them in place. Then fasten them to the head using extra strong thread and mattress stitches. Sew the front ear first, pull the thread taut and flip the ear over so it points forward. Sew the back ear and make sure that both ears are where you want them to be. Fasten your thread by pulling it into the middle of the neck opening and knotting the ear threads together before sewing a couple of times through the head.
Ears folded backwards, then fastened with mattress stitches and finished result.
Next, it’s time to embroider the nose on the bear’s snout. First fold a piece of writing paper in half, and draw half a nose along the fold. Cut out your nose template and see if it fits your bear. Make any changes you need to make it work, and then cut away any hairs or fur on the part of the snout where you want to embroider the nose (the snout should be completely bare where you want to embroider the nose). Pin the nose in place and use a thin ink pen to trace the outline of the nose on the snout. Starting at the side of the nose, sew horizontal stitches inside the whole nose. Then do a layer of vertical stitches. If you want, you can then finish the nose with a row of loop stitches along the upper nose line. Sew a mouth on your bear using straight or loop stitches. The thread ends are fastened by knotting them (not too tight!) inside the neck opening. You can then give your bear face a makeover by trimming down the fur on a part of or the whole snout if you like. This works really great if you work with a two-tone furry fabric, where the inner half of each hair has a different colour from the outer half.
The nose step-by-step.
Step five: Assembling the bear:
Sew a row of basting stitches using double extra-strong thread around the bear’s neck/bottom head, then insert your joint and pull the thread taut. Fasten the thread by sewing around the neck and through the head so that the joint sits tight. Push the joint pin through the upper body and fasten the joint.
Above: the joint inserted and fastened in the head.
Below: the head is joined with the body.
Turn the arms and legs so that the upper arms and legs are inside out and make a tiny cut where the joint should be inserted (the X on the pattern marks roughly where the joint should be). Insert the joints and turn the arms and legs right side out. Use a loose joint disc to mark the placement of the limbs and make tiny cuts where you can insert the joint pins through the body fabric. I like to place my limbs just to the back of the side seams, but the choice is yours. I wouldn’t recommend cutting through the actual side seams, as they could unravel.
Above: a bolt is inserted just to show where I’ve cut through the fabric and how the joint looks from inside a limb.
Below: All limbs with joints inside and fastened to the body.
Check the placement of the limbs before fastening the joints.
Step six: Body and limbs:
Fill the limbs and body the way you filled the head, using small amounts of filling to ensure an even distribution. I like to start with the limbs and do the body last. Both limbs and body should be a bit firm in order for the bear to keep its shape, but you don’t need to do it as firm as the head.
Filled with wadding.
When the bear is filled, close the openings using mattress stitches and fasten the thread.
Closing the openings using mattress stitches.
Use a teddy bear brush (or cat brush) or a needle to pull hair/fur out of the seams and fluff the fur. If you like, you can embroider claws on the bear paws.
Step seven: Eyes:
If you, like me, prefer glass eyes over safety eyes, fastening these is the last thing to do before your bear is finished.
Use pins or placement eyes (eyes on a pin) to figure out the placement of the eyes. Pull a double extra-strong thread through each eye – you need a great length of thread for this. Using doll needles pull the eye thread through the hole where the pin marking the placement was. The thread should go through the head (I make a path diagonally through the head from an eye on one side of the head to the neck on the other side).
Eye placement using placement eyes and glass eyes attached to the face.
Now for a fun part: You’ll make eye sockets on your bear! Do this by using a pair of small sharp scissors (e.g. nail scissors) to widen and deepen the hole where the eye thread goes into the head (this have to be the exact same spot!). You need to do this in order to make room for the loop of wire sticking out of the eye, where the eye thread goes through.
Stop torturing me! Making eye sockets by means of a pair of nail scissors.
Pull the eyes carefully into their places and see if any adjustments need to be made. When you’re happy with the placement, pull the thread while pushing the eye into the head (if you only pull the thread, the eye could break). Hold the pressure on the eye while pulling the thread through the head a couple of times, never making a stitch in the same place. Do this on the other eye as well. I like to divide my threads (each eye has a total of four threads) and fasten two threads together for the last finish – that way the eye is secured in place.
After fastening the eyes, use a needle or brush to comb the head.
Congratulations: You’ve made a teddy bear!