A few tricks we have discovered over the years and which we would like to share with you in hopes of making your bearmaking experience even more fulfilling and rewarding.
- If you are having trouble threading a needle, turn it over. Needles are punched out and have a smoother edge on one side.
- Leave wide enough openings on the body parts to enable you to turn them without a struggle, remember you will use the ladder stitch to close openings and it is a breeze!
- For bears under 8 inches, cut ears in a circle (remove seam allowance from the pattern on the straight edge), sew curved edge, slit along the centre of the folded edge and turn. This helps to eliminate excess fabric on the corners. Match ears before sewing them onto the bear so that the fur is going in the same direction on each ear.
- For larger bears, sew around the corner of the ear to eliminate excess fabric and bulk at the corners.
- To eliminate what some call a 'rooster tail' along the seams, tuck the fur into the seam when sewing. Then brush the fur that is caught in the seam back out to the wrong side using a bunka brush.
- Use a curling iron to touch up ribbons.
- Use Fray Check to reinforce the fabric especially at the openings, muzzle area, and bottom of the legs. Use sparingly as it does sometimes stain.
- If working with loosely woven fabric, add 1/4" to back opening. Tuck seam in and glue to form a clean edge for sewing back seam closed.
- Back ultrasuede paws with fusible interfacing to stabilize, this prevents them from stretching and also makes them easier to stuff.
- Reinforce joint holes by gluing patches of ultrasuede with a hole punched in the centre over the joint mark. This also makes it extremely easy to find the punched hole when you go to attach your limbs.
- If shaving the muzzle, shave before stitching - this eliminates that row of fur along the seam line.
- An electric sweater defuzzer will remove stubble from the muzzle area.
- For a floppy, old-looking bear use under sized joints and cotter pins.
- Double stitch stress points - eye and nose area on gusset.
- Hemostats are very useful to turn pieces, for stuffing and to help push or pull needles through tough areas.
- Use liquid mousse to straighten hair on muzzle. Heat and water will also straighten fur.
- Use ladder stitch and a strong nylon uphoistery thread (I prefer Coats Home Dec thread) to close seams and to attach ears.
- To make a very simple nose - shave tbe area of fur that the nose will cover and mark with a black permanent felt marker. Use masking tape to keep fur out of your way while stitcbing the nose. Cover nose area with glue stick glue. With a long darner or 3½" doll needle, satin stitch nose laying each thread evenly across the glue. Do 2 or 3 rows, depending on the weight of thread that you use.
- The fly stitch makes a very even mouth.
- When putting in eyes, use waxed eye floss. You can pull a nice tight eye and the knot won't slip while tying.
- To avoid torquing of limbs, sew them in opposite directions.
- Epoxied discs enable you to put disc and bolt in limb, stuff and close limb before attaching to body. Always joint from the limb to the body.
Following this layout will enable you to get almost any 16" bear out of a fat ¼ yard of fur.