today my daughter Isabella’s kindergarten class is having a “pajama and teddy bear” day to celebrate the invention of the teddy bear (it’s a fun read if you don’t know the history). yup. that’s how they roll in kindergarten… jealous much? surprisingly, we don’t have all that many teddy bears around the house, and none that she was particularly attached to. so natch, my first thought was hey, bet i can find a pattern to make one… and i quickly came upon a pattern and tutorial by HowJoyful and fell head over heels for it’s adorableness.
i printed the pattern and scoured my minkey dot and flannel scraps and started cutting. i thought the pieces seemed a little big, but somehow in the tutorial it looks like a small-ish toy so i didn’t think much of it. skip to the end of the story and you’ll find out that this is a 16″ bear.
the pattern directions start with a warning: this is not an easy project. if you’ve never constructed a stuffed animal before, try a simpler pattern first. pffffftt… thought i, can’t be that hard. i know how to sew curves. and while i managed to make the whole thing in an afternoon, i definitely concur with the difficulty! despite that, this was the most fun thing i’ve made in a long time so if you’re wanting to make this
little big guy up, here’s some advice:
- keep those pattern pieces handy, and make sure the cut fabric is labeled (i kept the pattern piece pinned to the fabric pieces until i needed them). all the corners are labeled with letters to match up seams and you will definitely need to go back and refer to pieces as you go along.
- there are places where you should stop sewing at the SA line, not the end of the pattern piece, so keep an eye on a picture of the finished bear to see if there is a join you should know about.
- the SA are not included on the pattern, so it’s probably best to trace the pieces onto the fabric, then eyeball the 1/4″ SA as you cut them out.
- if you want a smaller bear, scale down the pattern a little. however, a larger bear is much easier to sew for a beginner than a small one, unless you’re keen on hand sewing.
- not mentioned in the pattern: stuff the nose and close off the back so you can form the mouth and nose. i ended up cutting a 4″ diameter circle and whip stitching it around the nose/mouth area. this is probably something toy-makers know, but i nearly didn’t catch it.
- the directions have you sew up the head/body join last, stuff, and hand stitch it closed. next time i’ll leave a different opening for stuffing (either part of the back or the seat). the neck is not only a difficult place to hand sew closed, but it also takes considerable abuse when yanked around by a kid.
there was definitely some head scratching along the way. the tutorial and accompanying photos don’t necessarily follow each other in order, so you have to jump around a bit. despite that i somehow managed to create this super cute teddy bear!
subsequent makes will definitely go smoother (and judging by the jealousy coming from her three siblings there will be more teddy bears), and all in all it’s a pretty quick thing to make. there are a lot of pieces, but you can really pluck along at a good pace. and hey, that one holiday that shall not be named is just around the corner, so go make a teddy bear. it’s FUN!