Soft Sculpture Bear
How to make your own miniature stuffed animals.
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Project by Peng Peng Li from Chicago.
One day Peng Peng was in an office doing data entry. The next day, she was plunged headfirst into the magical world of crafting plush bears and hasn't looked back since! It all started one Christmas when she visited her crafty mom, who had made a simple miniature bear in her spare time. Peng Peng was looking for a creative release, and the idea of handmade bears captivated her. So she hit the books and did her research, and through trial and error, she mastered the intricate craft. The bears were popular with friends and family and are now her favorite activity. Making miniature bears is her forte. In this project, she shares the intricate and traditional craft of creating fully jointed poseable tiny mohair teddy bears.
1/4 yard of 5/8" pile sparse mohair
polyester sewing thread
heavy-duty upholstery thread
#3 pearl cotton
small fur grooming brush
5 sets hard disc joints
poly filler stuffing
sharp fabric scissors
fabric marker or water-soluble fabric pencil
fine-tip archival acid-free permanent marker
needle nose pliers (small and medium)
4" high quality precision cut scissors
1. Sketch out idea for teddy bear and design pattern on lined paper; then trace onto thin cardboard using a fine-tip permanent marker pen. Cut out cardboard pieces.
2. Mix dye according to package directions in a sink and dye mohair. Let drip dry completely.
3. Find nap of mohair and lay out pattern pieces according to the nap (some pieces will be flipped and traced in reverse). Trace using archival fine-tip marker pen. Mark all openings for stuffing. Mark additional 1/4-inch seam allowance around all pieces. Cut out all pieces on the 1/4-inch seam allowance marks. Take care to cut only the woven backing and not the fur pile, using small snips and working the scissors between the fur.
4. Brush the fur to release any excess loose fibers. Sew around all edges marked for openings using a tight straight machine stitch (this will help identify the seam allowance when hand closing the openings and also prevents any fraying). Using the awl, pick out the fur from the stitched edge and trim off the fur in the seam allowance.
NOTE: When pinning pieces together, always tuck the fur pile inside with the awl or needle. Pay attention to marked openings. Stitch all seams twice for strength and to prevent any fray.
5. Pin head pieces together. Sew from nose to neck (leaving bottom open). Center the gusset between the two head pieces and stitch securely in place at the nose. Pin the gusset fully into place, being sure it is centered. Sew the gusset from nose to neck. Bottom of head is left open for stuffing and jointing.
6. Pin sides of two body pieces together. Sew around (starting at top of back, ending at bottom of back) leaving back opened as marked.
7. Fold the pairs of arms and legs fur sides together, pin and sew. Leave openings as marked.
8. Pin ears with fur sides together, and sew together leaving bottom edge opened.
9. To turn: Clip seam allowance. Turn all pieces right side out using needle nose pliers (be careful not to pierce through the fabric) and a chopstick to help push out the little ends.
10. Stuff the head with small pieces of filling, gradually. Keep stuffing and shaping as you go for a consistent, firmly stuffed head (you don't want any noticeable gaps or lumps). The nose must be stuffed firmly and smoothly for embroidering. Stop about 1/2 inch from bottom opening to leave room for the joint and to be able to close the seam. Place joint disc and pin inside the head, so the stem (pin) is sticking out the bottom. Using double strand of heavy-duty thread, sew a gathering stitch, pull firmly closed and knot.
11. To embroider the nose: For small bears, it is easier to embroider before the head is attached to the body. Using fine small sharp scissors, clip the fur away where the nose will be embroidered. Using waxed pearl cotton, embroider the nose by hand.
12. Eye up head joint to body and mark where it will be inserted with fabric pencil. Clip the mohair away where the joint will be (for a strong joint, there musn't be fur between the discs). Dab fray check and let dry. Insert head stem into the "neck" of body, place another same size disc and washer inside the body and complete the joint using pliers.
13. Stuff and attach the limbs using small pieces of filling, gradually. Keep stuffing and shaping as you go for a consistent feel. Be sure the paws are stuffed firmly to hold up to embroidering. Stop stuffing about 1/4 inch from the top for the joint. Mark the joint spot by holding the disc against the fabric (eye it up), then make a hole with the awl (work it between the woven backing so not to break the fabric), dab fray check, and insert the joint with pin sticking on the outside. Stuff around the joint with filling and close the seam using heavy-duty thread. Eye up the limbs to the body, mark the insert points, make small hole, add fray check, insert limbs and complete joint inside the body. Be sure the limbs all have the same tightness.
14. Stuff body (tummy): Take small pieces of filling and stuff to a consistent feel. Don't overstuff; you should be able to close the opening relatively easily with your fingers. Close opening using heavy-duty thread and ladder stitch.
15. Position ears on head, and pin in place. Sew ears securely to head using whipstitch and then ladder stitch.
16. Test position eyes on face, make small mark. Thread glass eyes with double strand of extra-strong waxed thread and knot behind eye; make hole on eye mark with awl, insert eye with doll needle, exit behind opposite ear, pull tight and knot in place, bury the knot. Repeat for other eye.
17. Brush/pick out fur trapped in seams. Using fine sharp small scissors, clip/tweeze mohair to desired effect, just a little bit at a time (because it doesn't grow back!).
18. Design a simple dress (one pattern piece). Trace two times on wool felt and mark 1/4-inch allowance. Cut out to include 1/4-inch allowance. Pin together (there is no wrong or right side for felt) and sew. Clip right angles and turn right side out.
Web site: www.peng-peng.com