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Past Time Bears - Artist bears designed and handcrafted by Sue Ann Holcomb
Shelli Makes - Teddy bears & other cheerful things by Shelli Quinn

Matthea Ontario
Posts: 87

Hi everyone :)
My name is Matthea (the 'h' is silent) and have just started making bears. I took a bear making class about 7 years ago, but only made a few and then started college. Recently I saw a TB&F magazine in a local bookstore and I had such an urge to create again! I bought some materials online (there are no supplies stores in Toronto!) and started to sew. I feel in love with it and now, I can't stop! :D

I also have a question...I hand sew all my bear, does anyone here use a machine? I have one, but I can't imagine using it. I feel like the mohair will frey unless I make a huge seam allowance which seems strange for me since most of my bears on the small side.
Thanks everyone! I'm sure I'll be seeing you guys around here often as bear making has taken a hold of me and wont let go.

Wisdom Bears Wisdom Bears
Ayrshire, Scotland.
Posts: 951

Hi Matthea, Welcome to our group ,Everyone is so friendly and I'm sure you will love it here. Look forward to seeing your bears.I sew both by hand and machine ,mostly on my bigger bears though. Hugs Rita xxxx

yosemitebearworks Oakhurst, CA
Posts: 64

Hello Matthea!

Welcome to the board.  I know how you feel about making bears -- they can be really addicting.   

As to your question, how small are your bears?  If they are very small, then sewing them by hand is probably the best way to go.  I am not an expert on miniatures (my smallest bear size is 5 inches), but anything smaller than 6 or 7 inches - I sew by hand.  All others I sew by machine using 1/4" seam allowance.  I do know that a lot of miniaturists use fray-check on the seam allowances to keep the fabric from fraying.  Beyond this little bit of info -- I'll let the experts on small bears carry on.   

Anyway -- Glad to see you here!

SueAnn Past Time Bears
Double Oak, Texas
Posts: 21,041

SueAnn Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

A big welcome to the board, Matthea!  I make larger bears (my smallest is around 6-7"), so I sew almost everything on my machine.  Only on the smaller bears do I sew by hand and that is just on the head and foot pads.  So glad to have you here and I hope you have fun!! bear_laugh

clare14 Country Bears
Posts: 3,066

Hello Matthea!!

What a lovely name!!   Welcome!!

I usually sew bears up to about 10" by hand and over that size on the sewing machine - I couldn't do the small bears on the machine - too fiddly for me!!   On the bigger chaps I always sew the head and the footpads in by hand as I feel I have more control.

Anyway, enjoy the forum!!

Chico, California
Posts: 9,939

Shelli Retired Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

Welcome Matthea!  I'm an avowed machine user, especially since my bears are significantly larger than 5-10"; I usually work in the 14-20" range.

I do frequently handsew the footpads because I can never get them as even when I use the machine.

Hope you'll have fun here!

JanetandBears Janet Ann Anderson and Bears
Breckenridge, CO
Posts: 264

Hi Matthea,
           I am also addicted to bear making and have been doing it for over 22 years now.  I started with large bears and got smaller untill I found my niche with 4" and 5" bears with an occassional  8 inch and 12 inch size.
      Now, ( but not the first few years) I use the machine a lot for the 4 and 5 inch bears and only sew the head and foot pads entirely by hand.  I may with some mohairs tightly baste all the pieces first before machine sewing and this gives me the more precise shape I want plus helps with the fraying. After making a lot of bears you will find what methods work best for you and like anything lots of practice and experimentation goes toward  learning.     Janet

Dilu Posts: 8,574

Yeay Matthea,

I am so glad you came to play with us!

I use my machine on all sizes, my smallest was 2" and I probably would have done better to do him by hand- but I was on a roll.

I do the gussetts to about an inch from the side face seam and then I do that last part by isn't any harder to sew by machine and takes a lot less time.....I love my machine.

When I cut out minis- 3-4 inches tall I draw on the stitching line and then cut the pieces out-but not in the shape that they will eventually be, more like ovals....then I sew the seam on the line I drew and then I cut out the shape.  Voila--it works like a DREAM.

Did that make sense?

It may 'waste' a tiny bit of fabric, which is dear and I don't like to waste, but it makes the sewing soooooo much easier.  Try it.

You'll see, if you try it, and it is fun to do the ittybittys.  I usually do the head gussett by hand on the ittybittys though.

Some fabric will not fray or ravel no matter how much it is manipulated and some insits on misbehaving no matter how nice you are to it.  I buy 'fray check' at Walmart and use it on the frayable fabric...but by cutting out the shape after it is sewn it usually isn't a problem.

Also tighten down your tension a notch and use smaller stitches-I use 1.5 on my minis....(don't make a mistake cuz it's a real ----- to pick out those stitches!:D

I guess it depends on what gives you the most satisfaction.

I usually draw and cut 6-10 mini gollies or teddies at a time.  Then have a marathon sewing session and then do the really fun stuff, stuffing and creating bearsonalities.  (hi Marie!)  and golsonalities...

We make up a lot of words here, as you can see....

Glad you are here and hope you have fun with us.....(you wont believe how generous everyone is with ideas and is staggering!)


Judi Luxembears
Luxemburg, Wisconsin
Posts: 7,379

Hi Matthea.  Welcome to this fun and happy forum!  What a beautiful name you have.

I am with the rest of these guys when it comes to hand sewing verses machine sewing.  I love hand sewing..there is something very therapuetic in it for I can go outside and sew while my little ones play in the sand box.:)

I too think machine sewing is great for the larger peices on medium to big bears. bear_original

Laure Fool's Gold Bears
San Luis Obispo, CA
Posts: 351

Hi Matthea,

Welcome to Teddy-Talk Land!  We are all a little "wonky" here (off-kilter) and we love to have fun.  It is delightful sharing thoughts and ideas with all of the teddy lovers from so many places.  We are learning how to become a world-wide community, and that means each one of us gets to contribute questions and comments so that all of us get to grow.  Jump right in and enjoy!!! :D

Almost forgot to mention, I sew bears on the machine whenever size allows,using a short stitch setting, and I stitch intricate details by hand.  Sometimes I use 1/8 inch seams, double-stitched and fray checked on smaller bears under about 8 inches.

doodlebears Doodlebears
Posts: 7,414

doodlebears Celebration Ambassador

Hi Matthea,
Welcome to the group I feel sure you will really enjoy being part of the teddy cyber community here with us all. I sew all of my bears by hand. I do have two really good machines but I prefer to stitch by hand as to quote my daughter "Mum you're too pernickety" as she has seen me sew on the machine only to pick out the stitches. 
Enjoy your time here.

Laura Lynn Teddy Bear Academy
Nicholasville, KY
Posts: 3,651

Laura Lynn Banner Sponsor

Hello Matthea!!  I think you'll love it here!

I do baste ALL my pieces before sewing.  My larger pieces I may baste with staples! 

I machine sew the body, legs and arms.  I hand sew most of the gusset (all the head on smaller bears) and I always hand sew the footpads. 

I am able to machine sew even my 4" bears.  I like using a clear foot on my sewing machine.. so I can see where everything is going.  (Dilu that is a GREAT tip for sewing smaller bears!!)

I also love to sew by hand... but if I do too much my hands and arms get sore.   If I know I'm going somewhere where I'll have to wait (doctor's office, ....) I'll be sure to have a couple of legs sewn together so I can work on the footpads bear_laugh

Winney Winneybears and Friends
White City, Oregon
Posts: 1,103

Hi Matthea! I want to welcome you too, you are going to love it here, lots of info. and the group is wonderfully friendly and fun. Please feel free to jump in on any questions or suggestions you may have...I'll warn you, its hard to stay off this beard..oops...board ! It's the first thing I do in the morning...and later in the day and in the evening and before I go to bed...see what I mean ? ..... Winney

Daphne Back Road Bears
Laconia, NH USA
Posts: 6,568

Welcome, Matthea!

I have problems with my hands (am putting off surgery as long as possible but it's coming before the year is out, I'm afraid!) so I machine sew EVERYTHING I possibly can. I love to machine sew mohair, it just glides right through! My smallest critter is 5 inches and I do machine sew all of it! I hand baste foot pads and gusset first so I can remove the pins to get the material into my machine.

The smaller the bear, the smaller the stitches and seam allowance.... the bigger the bear the bigger the stitches (unless I'm filling with glass beads or bb's - then I stick with tiny stitches) and the bigger the seam allowance (1/4 inch for anything bigger than 6 inches is my rule).

You will find what works for you. Do what you are comfortable with but never be afraid to experiment. The worst that can happen is that you go back to how you were doing things to begin with.


Delartful Bears Delartful Bears
Posts: 3,518

Hi Matthea,

Welcome to the board - it's fantastic here - I love it.

I hand stitch everything.  The largest bear I've made is 16" and I hand sewed him, but my usual size is 6", which of course I hand sew!

Just find what works best for you, and stick with it!

bearsbybeesley bears by beesley TM
Tofield Alberta Canada
Posts: 6,818

Welcome Matthea!! You could not have found a better place or nicer people to chat with and share ideas. (Just between you and me..... there are a few Kooks here though??Ha Ha I am one of them:lol:) Seriously, all is well in the bear world and this forum is by far the best of the best. Welcome put yourt feet up and have some wine and chocolate Girl!!

hugs Louise and Garnet

millie PottersHouse Bears
Posts: 2,173

Welcome Matthea,

So the teddy bear bug has bitten you.  Well there's no cure for the disease, but then you probably don't want one.  I also hand sew all of my bears.  I find it relaxing.

Marie_ Kiprie Bears
Yokohama, Japan
Posts: 2,735

Welcome Matthea!

Sorry I'm little late here :P
I'm new to teddy bear making too, I started from 2002.
I hand sew only head,ear, foot pad and I sew everything else with machine.
As everyone, I hand sew for tiny bear too but I usually make 10" - 15" size bear.
I cut the hair in seam before I sew.

This is very wonderful site to talk about teddies and more.
You will love it here :)

Bear Hugs/Marie

sockerplinga Sundsvall
Posts: 142

Hi Matthea! And welcome to the group! Im sure you will like it here!!:)

Eileen Baird'sBears
Posts: 3,873

Hi Matthea,

Greetings from another Toronto resident!! I can't answer your question, since I'm also a beginner, but so far I've been sewing by hand. My 2 bears are made of real fur and leather. I haven't had the courage to try sewing these on a machine, but I use a glover's needle, which makes hand-sewing much easier.

Welcome to this very nice group! You're going to learn a lot


jazzyrags Jazzy Rags
Posts: 1,494

i use a enbrodery foot to sew my paw pad as you can see what your doing fran

Eileen Baird'sBears
Posts: 3,873


What does an embroidery foot look like? I've never heard of it!


jenny Three O'clock Bears
warwickshire uk
Posts: 4,413

Hi Matthea....Welcome from me in the UK.

I am sewing machine addict I'm afraid..basically, if it can't be done on the machine it doesn't get my smallest bear is 6" and my biggest 16".  I stay stitch all my openings first and then sew 1/4 seams twice, I just pin, then machine over the pins (my needlework teacher at school would  die of shock!!) ...I have never had a problem with fraying except for one of my early bears which was made from loosely woven mohair so now...if I use this type of fabric I use diluted PVA glue as a fray check and it seems ok. I can't speak about mini-bear fabrics though...I have never used any really...


Terrie Terries Bears
Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 3,614

Welcome Matthea, you have found a really great group! Like most of the others I hand sew the little guys, and machine sew the larger ones. I can't sit in the evenings with out something to do, so I sew the miniatures in front of the TV at night. Fraycheck does work great on questionable seams. I make bears from 2" - 24"

Deb Upstate New York
Posts: 1,650

Welcome to Teddy Talk Matthea!

I don't make minis.  Most in 13-18 inches or thereabouts, so I use my machine.  I use Fraycheck sometimes and just started trimming fur from most of the seam allowance before stitching.

You'll like it here!

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