A great variety of materials can be used to make a bear, fabrics such as jersey, knitted items, jumpers/cardigans, corduroy, terry cloth, velor, velvet and even light denim. Choose fabrics and colours which will compliment each other for the best overall finished appearance. Pay attention to details that will add interest such as pockets or cuffs or bows. If you have a character or logo on one piece of clothing, cut it out and appliqué it onto a plainer piece of fabric. All these little details add interest and personality to your finished piece.
Snip all the curves
Every time you sew a curved area, snip the curves before you start the next part. Your head piece, legs, arms etc will all look wonky instead of gently curved if you forget to snip the curves. Cut little snips into the fabric at right angles to the sewn line at intervals of 5mm or so, make sure you do not snip through the line of stitching.
Turning your bear
We always use tweezers or a chopstick to make an indent/well at the end of your limb or body to push the bear right sides out of the opening you’ve left for turning. This way you don’t penetrate the fabric distort or worse still make a hole.
Always use a medium size stitch to sew your item, too small a stitch and your seam will pucker, too large a stitch and the seam will expand when stuffing and risk splitting.
When you have finished sewing your memory animal, it is time to start stuffing, this is where your keepsake comes to life. Absolutely DO NOT be mean with the stuffing! A really plump bear will look better, it will sit better and will age better, this is due to the stuffing settling over time. You don’t want your keepsake to go saggy!
The best way to add the stuffing to your keepsake bear, is to put it in a little bit at a time and push it down with a plastic chopstick, or something with a blunt end! If you put big handfuls in you will get lumps in your finished bear. Small bits put in a piece at a time and gently teasing the stuffing will give a nice even appearance.
Closing the keepsake
We also always oversew the closing edges on each body part with a straight running stitch, so when you are ready to close the body part it holds the edge flat and gives you a guide to know where the ladder stitches need to go therefore giving you the perfect straight seam.
The position of the eyes is key factor to the look, expression and personality of the bear, it is important to get this right. We use glass headed pins to mark the eye position first before inserting the safety eye or sewing on the felt eye.
Attaching the limbs on a jointed bear
When attaching arms and legs, it is best to tighten the joints as much as possible because they tend to loosen quite a bit when the joints are moved later when your item is finished. If not eventually you will end up with floppy limbs that don’t stay where they are posed.