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:
And other times I use a more rectangular shape, like for Maple:
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 (not yet though, that will come in week 9 )
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:
Whew, that’s it for this week! Next week we’ll be stuffing the limbs and pulling some toes.
Holy smokes that's a lot of work–but worth it, I'm sure! The quality shows–great job! Soooo cute!
Oh he's so cute!!!!!!!!
I don't know if I'd ever have the patience to make one of these but I'm loving seeing how it's all put together.
Being on holiday I'd missed a couple of posts so I had to go back and read how you got to this stage. I'm completely fascinated although I have in all honesty no urge to try this at home. Far too stressy – I could end up making a zombie bear at any stage if I went wrong! 😉
Oh wow, its the nose… With the eyes he still didnt look like, well, you know, but with the nose – now he's his own wee person! (bear…) Got hunners of questions to annoy you with later. 🙂
Mua-ha-ha. It's ALIVE!! I cannae3 beieve how just the nose brings him to life. Never mind the eye socket shading. Fascinating stuff, Katy. Although, TBH, after Jan's comments I want a zombie bear. I kid you not.
I think I am in love. He is so sweet!! Even without a body.
I love the fact that you're showing us all this, no-one would believe the amount of work involved otherwise.
He looks gorgeous already. Better hide him from your visitor 😉
Cor, that was 'citing. I be'd to the berypnotist and now I know that this happens to all bears – including me. SO… now I just think of it as my weekly horror show. Sometimes I just have to put my paws over my eyes, but mostly not.
He looks like he'll be a nice bear, though all that tape round his muzzle must have been ouchy coming off.
I knew bears took a lot of work but I had no idea just how much. He's looking fantastic!
So fun seeing them come to life. Cutest bears ever!
I love this post. Thank you for the nose info. I have never seen the felt laid down before. Stitched noses are so tough for me. I think that this will help.
Wow so remind me to never attempt to make a bear…unless its at the bear factory =D
Thats a very cute nose. I think bear making is too intricate for my slap dash attitude!
It's a perfect nose. I like the color too.
It's fun to see his personality and expression come to life. Does he have a name yet?
Those are the longest needles I have EVER seen. He is shaping up beautifully!
I think it's so cool that you actually can color and shade the fur using markers. His little perle cotton nose is also just perfect!
A very stylish nose!! You know I always thought bears came from the Enchanted Forest.. Next you'll be telling me fairies don't exist.
Hmmmm… I might have to put Bellamine to sleep and give her a nose job.
I just couldn't work out what you meant about pulling the nose thread just enough to knot the end…then I read a bit further and remembered that he isn't wearing his body yet!!! I think you could do with a blue or green sheet with a hole in though – would make the nose surgery less scary for the bears if they couldn't see that gigantic needle coming at them…and then out of them ;o)
This is amazing to see! I love it. ♥
I love seeing this guy come together and can't believe how much goes into making him.
I've gotta say your bear making is just incredible. My fingertips hurt just reading about stitching the nose though. Yikes. These are really sweet though–it must be hard to part with them!