I thought I’d do a bit of a progress series on making TBB II for anyone curious about how a bear is born (and even for those of you aren’t ;o) ) The first bears that I made were from patterns made by other makers sold either individually or as kits with all the mohair etc included (Bear Basics in the UK, Intercal in the US and Beary Cheap in Oz are great places to pick these up), however in the same way as for other sewing patterns, you usually cannot sell bears made from these patterns, so when I started selling my bears, I had to design my own patterns.
From the patterns I had already used I had a good general idea of the pieces I would need, however there are many variations, eg 1 piece versus 2 piece legs, 2 piece versus 4 piece bodies, 2 piece versus 3 piece heads, and let’s not start on the whole idea of inset pieces to get tonal effects! Ted Menten’s Teddy Bear Studio is a great book to show you how patterns can be drawn and altered for different effects.
For TBB II, I’m using Maple’s base pattern shrunk down, but my first step in designing a bear is usually to draw the pattern out on paper. I do most bits freehand except for the foot pads and head gusset (when doing 3 piece heads), where I break out my flexible curve ruler (you can get flexible curves both with and without measurements, but if you want those pieces to fit, I’d suggest one with a ruler ;o) )
Once I’m happy that I’ve got the proportions right (using the terribly technical, layer the pieces of paper, lining them up at the joints and holding up to the light method), my next step is to dig out the template plastic. Now this is actually sold for quilters, but hey, what’s a little multi-tasking between friends ;o) Armed with a Sharpie, I then trace all my hand drawn pattern pieces using a light box:
I mark out one pattern piece for every time I will need it – ie for a 2 part leg, I mark out 4 pieces – then I arm myself with a pair of sturdy paper scissors to cut them all out. Whilst it’s tempting to just cut one of each, trust me when I say that this method is invaluable for allowing you to work out the best layout of pieces on the ‘fur’ so that you get the least waste. It also ensures you actually have enough ‘fur’ for your chosen project (unless, of course, you fancy changing your plans to make a pirate bear because you’re one leg short…)
On your ‘fur’ of choice, you will then need to find the nap, that is, the way the furry bit actually runs. As you stroke it in different directions, you should be able to see which way the pile lies – note this may be obvious on some fabrics, but rather less so on others, like TBB II’s curly mohair. Lay your pattern pieces out on the fabric backing so that the pile is running in the right direction for the part, noting that the ears can generally fit in any wee gap you have in your layout:
My next tool of choice is a gel pen. I usually use white, but there’s no hard and fast rule here! I use it to trace round all the pieces.
Now I can just see you quilters with your rotary cutters thinking ‘why would I need to do that last step, I’ll just run the cutter round it’. But that would be bad, very bad… Tune in next week and I’ll show you why!
Oh Katy I've been hoping you'd do a post about this one day 🙂 its fascinating! Ta love x
This is so interesting!! I'm going to love these posts.
I think I might have to commission the pirate bear now that you have sown that idea in my mind 🙂
Love, Mum xxx
This looks fun! Can't wait to see the next step x
OMG I never knew bears were made out of so many phallic pieces!!!!!!!!
So pleased that Flying Blind made that comment, I thought maybe I was the only one seeing that in those pieces! Possibly too because I have just finished using male and female press studs!
I used to love to make stuffed animals….but not in some years now. I'm looking forward to the rest of your adventure. Oma Linda
oh thank god for hadley! i thought the same thing!!! why are you making stuffed penis's my dear?! 😉 xoxoxo
Wow so many pieces – love how you've placed them to get the most out of that not-cheap-fur. And I'm so glad Hadders said what the rest of us were thinking 🙂 Great post though!
sometimes I'm glad I'm blind and can't see all those rude images … naughty quilters!
I already have a one legged bear … it was a Paddington and one of his legs fell off! I kept him just the same!
I had a privilaged childhood too … my mum made me a large womble and a large bagpuss! … it took me ages to find the pattern for bagpuss but I tracked it down eventually … yes I harbour a desire for another one, lol!
Loving this bear building tute. Not likely that I will ever do one myself but cool to see how you do it.
And here I was thinking Teddy Bears came from the Enchanted Woods.
That looks rather interesting so far. Who'd have thought you need so many pieces! =D
Im watching to see how this is done. The last time I made something that resembled an animal I sewed its head on inside out and back to front. I was all for leaving it like that but my Mum bullied me into unpicking and fixing it so it didnt give Miss P nightmares.
OUCH, a rotary cutter? Wouldn't that be wonderful instead of the tiny snip snips of the small pair of scissors, making sure NOT to cut the mohair?
I could say "Finally, LT" but instead I will say "YIppee, I am so proud of you". (o: Isn't it fun to get back to bear making?
Great stuff, Katy! Have always wanted to learn how to do this. I'm just afraid the dilettante in me will rush out to buy fur and leap right into sewing my first bear, (as if I don't have enough projects on the go, spread over several rooms in my house)…whatever!
If I can control myself, I will definitely make note of these post dates so I might come back and put them to use when I actually have time to do it properly…:)
Yes my steps exactly.
I know why we can't use a rotary cutter, me, me, ask me, I know!
(I saw the phallic shapes and my second thought is that I'm sure H will have made some comment! What is that girl like?)
It's just as well so many bears are at camp, and I'm not at home reading this. If Jock sees this I'll have to take him to the bearchiatrist. He'll freak. He thinks I found him under the rhubarb – or rhubeard as he would have it. 🙂
Brilliant tutorial Katy, thank you! I am very impressed with your pattern making skills (and something you can teach and show and tell week Saturday! bring that flexi ruler!
Fascinating (but looks a little rude!) – I can't wait for the next instalment!!!
Lol trust H!, but I do know why you don't use a rotary cutter 🙂
Ooh, I love being nosey like this!! Alhough from my very limited toymaking I do know why scissors and not a rotary cutter. More soon please!
I'm hooked ! It's going to be a long week, waiting for the next installment.
OMG just came back to read hads comment… Balls to that 😉 lol
fabulous! i love everyones comments about the shapes as well, but jeez i can't believe I didnt even see it that way! so excited to see this description.
Tee hee that Hadley!
that's a lot of cutting, but I like seeing the process of the bear making.
Ah! So this is how the bears come about. Very cool!
Rock! I'm so excited to read all of these! I've wondered how you put together your bears. It looks like so much work.
A really interesting insight into making bears – I will be following up, but don't think I'm up for making any. I won't mention the shapes!