Welcome to my September post on the Blogger Network.  Having recently purchased a traditional bear sewing pattern I thought it would be a good opportunity to use this for my next project with a kit from Minerva.

The pattern I chose is the Calico Signature Bear by Funky Friends Factory and a cream assortment of Quilting Fat Quarters of which you receive a random, but co-ordinating, set of 4 fabrics.  I had envisaged a floral set as shown in the product listing and was slightly surprised with the set I received, and equally keen with the challenge of the fabrics I had.

The kit also includes some wooden buttons for the joints, extra strong thread and some safety eyes.  I also use white cotton poplin and toy stuffing.

The pattern is in PDF format with detailed instructions and the first thing to do is print the pattern & stick the pieces on to card with PVA glue and cut them out.  You can then trace around the pattern pieces. I always have a pattern piece for every part needed (e.g. the reversed pieces) especially if using more than one fabric to make sure I don’t forget an important piece.  My card was fairly thick but still able to be cut with scissors.

When using different fabrics, I like to draw a plan of the fabric layout to avoid making sure that all of the fabrics were incorporated fairly equally.

The instructions with the pattern are very clear & even describe which seams to sew e.g. A to B.  I transferred all of the markings within the seam allowance.

Lining the bear with cotton poplin is helpful to add more structure to lightweight fabrics or stretch fabrics and to help retain the shape when the bear is filled with stuffing.  It doesn’t really matter which side is uppermost for the under-lining fabric, however, I used the right side of the poplin to the wrong side of the outer fabric, so it was consistently right side uppermost.

When making bears I tend to pin as many pieces as I can & then do all of the stitching together.  This means I don’t follow the pattern in the correct order.  However, if you are unfamiliar with making bears or fabric toys it is sensible to follow all of the points in order.   There is a handy tick box against each point in the Funky Friends Factory patterns to help you stay on track.

I had to refer to the diagram for the positioning of the ears prior to stitching & also check they were the right way around. It wouldn’t have mattered too much as long as they are both facing the same way, but I had planned them to show London on the front.  I suggest stitching with the face gusset down against the machine sewing plate as it is flat & with the face seam uppermost to manage any tucks when sewing.  I also double stitch the seams especially at end points like the nose.  I don’t usually tack toy parts but as the head-to-neck is a smallish circumference & 3 layers of fabric I tacked it before machine stitching.

Adding safety eyes is a simple process as long as the positioning is determined in advance.  I used 12mm safety eyes.  I mark the position by inserting ball head pins straight into the bear and viewing from the front for symmetry and levelling.  There are some short videos on YouTube if you need to double check how to fix the eyes in place.

When sewing the foot pads onto the legs it is easier to machine stitch with the pad flat against the machine sewing plate.  This allows you to smooth out any small gathers that can form around the edges.

Toy specific filling should be used as it prevents too many clumps and this stuffing also meets CE safety requirements.

To attach the button joints I chose extra strong sewing thread and natural, wooden buttons with a diameter of 2.5 cms.  I have a doll needle that is about 7.5 cms long and it was just about long enough to attach the limbs, but I had to work through each body section separately.  Ideally, a needle long enough to go through an arm, then the body and finally through the other arm in one pass would be easier.

All of the hand sewing is for closure of the seams, after stuffing, using ladder stitch.  It is an easy stitch once you have mastered it and it is also very satisfying to pull the finished stitching and watch the seam close like a zip, as long as you use a good quality thread that is strong enough to withstand some pulling.

The final touches are the nose and mouth and then your little bear has its own character.  I love the finished bear and the challenge of using unusual fabric designs and my little British Bear sits perfectly with a little smile.

Thanks to everyone for reading and to Minerva for the kit.

Helen - JustSewHelen.com