Sunday, 5 October 2014

The Bear Facts

Anyone who's read my blog will know that I love making miniature teddy bears.  They tend to be made intermittently depending on how well my hands are working.  I set myself a quota of at least 12 bears this year and even with everything else thats been going on, I've already achieved my goal, which has made me very happy!

I make my bears mainly for friends and family and usually have a number of people sitting patiently on my "Teddy To Do List".  When people reach the top of my list and if it's not a surprise gift, I often get asked the same questions, so this blog post is being written to address some of those queries.

Funnily enough I find miniature bears easier to sew than large ones - my left hand doesn't work as well as my right, so the smaller pieces are easier to hold than bigger bear bits and I can turn the small cotter pins I use for the neck joints, where I find the large ones impossible.  I also enjoy the challenge of working at this small scale.  I like to make sure my bears are as good as I can possibly make them so they are all hand sewn with extra strong thread and a lot of love.

I currently use three types of fabric for the main body of my bears.  All are made from synthetic fibres, as is the Ultrasuede fabric I use for the paws.  I use one basic teddy pattern which has a very traditional look and creates a bear who is approximately 8cm (3 1/4 inches) tall.  I have plans to create kitty and bunny patterns in the future, I just haven't got around to the drawing stage yet - thats on another To Do List.

1.  Cashmere
This fabric has the shortest pile but has a very touchable, soft and velvety feel, and it usually comes in a huge variety of colours...

Percy & Milly (made for a Hello Kitty fan) are both made from cashmere 

2.  English Velvet
I can't source this fabric anywhere at the moment.  I was lucky enough to be able to buy a small batch of this fabric a couple of years ago from a supplier who was retiring.  It has a longer pile than the cashmere and a slightly bristlier texture, though still very stroke-able.  I have much more limited colours in this, mainly natural browns and beiges, some slightly more golden shades, plus a green, a blue and a rose pink...

William & Raphael are both made from English velvet

3.  Sassy
This has the longest pile I currently work with.  It was developed in America specifically for miniature bears, it comes three types - frosty; long pile; and smoky - and a wide range of colours.

Bai & Clarabelle are both made from Sassy long pile

Frosted Sassy has a lot of colour in the base fabric but very little in the actual fur - Bai's arms, legs and ears are made from frosted fabric although as she's quite a light colour, the effect isn't too noticeable in her photo.  All coloured Sassy fabrics have been hand dyed (not by me - at least not yet...), except the white long pile and the natural grey smokey.

Sassy smokey has a dark base fabric which gives a different look, in the photo below you can see two bears - Pumpkin, who is made from cashmere and Greta, who is made from Sassy smoky, so its a good photo to see the differences in the different types of fabric...

I make a rule of never combining different types of fabric, but of course I do on occasion break my own rules - I was lucky with Sidney that it worked out, but I don't generally recommend mixing like this...

Sidney is made from a mixture of a leopard printed cashmere and an English velvet like fabric, both of which I don't seem to be able to find anymore, though I currently have a few remnants left.  And once in a while, I'll pick up a different piece of fabric, like I used for Herbert here...

I hope this post will help my friends to choose their new teddy bear friends.  At some point I'll do another post with some of the fabric colours I have in my stash and add a link on here.  If anyone has anymore questions, please feel free to ask.


  1. So lovely to see all the bears together and great to hear a little more about how my little Bai and her friends are created.
    Clare xx

  2. Fascinating!! :) I'd love a look at the process... just a hint or three, not all your secrets!! ;) I'm off to follow you now... I thought I had already but you post didn't come up in my feed reader... glad you put the link on CC!! :)
    Rachel xx