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Chico, California
Posts: 9,939

Shelli Retired Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

I generally trim my muzzle pieces (two side heads, one gusset) BEFORE sewing. However, I'm thinking, maybe, I should trim AFTER sewing; it allows for more precise clipping and will never land me in a spot where I have short mohair where I would have preferred longer! 

But then, I get to thinking... if I trim AFTER sewing, or especially after feature placement (eyes, nose, etc.), then it's such an awkward job! 

I tend to use tiny moustache trimmers for the first run, before stitching... and then tiny, very sharp, scissors, for everything AFTER the head has been sewn up and features attached.

I'm wondering... how do YOU do it???

Thanks for your input; I really enjoy reading the pros and cons of techniques before I invest time and energy in learning them, or changing them, for myself.

You guys are such a fountainhead of experience and wisdom on this stuff.  Can't wait to see how you respond!

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

Great topic Shelli. I sew my entire bear, joint and stuff before I start the head features. I generally trim a wee bit and needle sculpt before putting in the eyes. Then I continue to trim and scissor sculpt and more needle sculpting until I see the general look for the bear. Again I scissor sculpt until finished and shade and hightlight.

Many Hugs Louise

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

Same way for me..except I do not atttach the head until its done just in case I mess up royally....Winney

SueAnn Past Time Bears
Double Oak, Texas
Posts: 21,646

SueAnn Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

If I am sure I'm going to trim the muzzle down to the backing, I take the bulk of it off before sewing the pieces, then finish trimming after the head is finished, but before it is attached to the body.  After the muzzle is trimmed, I put in the shading details.  If I want to leave some of the fur on the muzzle, I will trim the seams first, then sew the pieces together.  After the head is complete, I scissor-sculpt to where I want it, then apply shading, then attach to the body.

gotobedbears Posts: 3,177

If it's any use to you Shelli, i just trim the seam allowance before stitching together and then trim the face with teeny weeny scissors after the head has all been put together. Takes forever!

I would'nt trust meself with clippers of any sort, small or large - could end up looking like a poodle ha ha ha

Penny  bear_tongue

Chico, California
Posts: 9,939

Shelli Retired Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

FAE-standing-arms-behind-back-SMALL.jpgHey, poodles are cute!!!  I actually had one clipper mishap which ended up being one of my favorite bears, FAE, which took 2nd place Best of Show in Nevada City last year, and was my highest priced piece there.  So there ARE happy accidents!  Pic of FAE, whose trim job turned into a total shave because Shelli "slipped," above.

PenPan, your post reminds me...  where are photos of your new work?  I want to see a new GoToBedBear!!! Or are you too busy Photoshop-ping?  Boy, can I name THAT tune!!!


gotobedbears Posts: 3,177

Hi Shelli,  :dance:

I have a new bear made for the Golden Paws Emporium on NCTB in March Shelli - it's the little one on my new avatar - small but cute bear. And i am working on new patterns, making a bear for the next swap with Anne of Starlite Bears on a St.Patricks Day theme (begorrah) and generally going around in circles.

I don't have ANY bears for sale at the moment (apart from the NCTB one), they have all gone to new homes! Must'nt grumble about that must I?

Penny - all photoshopped out  bear_laugh   bear_grin   :P

as ususal i forgot to say........................I love that bear! Yep, sometimes mistakes are GOOD!

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

She is one of my favorites Shelli...her face looks so soft...Winney

Chico, California
Posts: 9,939

Shelli Retired Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

FAE-closeup-head-tilt.jpgOH, thank you.  But it's not soft!  That was my original intention, but since I "slipped" I had to shave it really close, so it's kinda stubbly, actually.  But her painting turned out softer than usual; not sure why that is.  Maybe I went slower to compensate for her "baldness." 

Here's a closeup.  You'll see what I mean about the ol' five-o-clock-shadow on this one! 

Laughing here...


Judi Luxembears
Luxemburg, Wisconsin
Posts: 7,379

Some of the greatest discoveries happen by mistake (antibiotics for ex.).
Shelli, I love the look on FAE.  She look s perfect.   bear_wub  bear_wub  bear_wub I think we tend to get into a comfort zone and therefore sometimes fail to try new things....

I am like Sue Ann, I trim some before sewing depending on the design.  A big part of the fun is trimming and discovering/creating a new personality on each bear.

Penny, when the Golden Paws Emproium opens...your bear is MINE. bear_grin

Eileen Baird'sBears
Posts: 3,873

bear_laugh Judi, you're so right!  bear_laugh

My last major snafu (the mink trim disaster) led to an experiment in the Inset Muzzle, which saved the day! (Not your bruin, Duff!)


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

I don't trim any before I sew. I then stuff the head...pluck roughly where the nose a basic haircut ...position the eyes and insert them. Then I do another rough cut before I do the nose..then once the nose is done, I fine tune the scissor sculpting. I never take the fur off down to the base so I would be scared that I would not leave myself any room to change tack if I snipped or trimmed before sewing. I also have an aversion to clippers, and when I was taught to cut hair was always told that clippers were not to be used (it's just one of those things that got drummed into us then and it is in my head and I can't change) you just get used to doing it all by hand and if I am honest it's the bit I enjoy to use clippers for me would spoil the fun. I like to shape as I go and some have moustaches..some go shorter so I wouldn't be able to tell if I was cutting the pile off a pattern piece.

I like to see the face emerge as I am snipping...

All Bear All Bear by Paula
Posts: 5,162

I always make the head up, stuff, sculpt, insert eyes and THEN trim.  I use sharp embroidery scissors to do the job and it's my favourite part of the process.  I don't think I'd cope well with trimming before I make the head as I like to see the personality evolve as I work the scissors.

psichick78 Flying Fur Studios
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 3,073

I trim after the head is stuffed.
My aviator bear has not only been trimmed, but I plucked all the hair out. I like the nice smooth finish. But that's just me, alot of my other bears just get clipped here and there.
I'm with Jenny, I love to see the face emerge as I clip.

Chico, California
Posts: 9,939

Shelli Retired Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

Interesting stuff!

My little faces "emerge" not during the trimming, but when I needle sculpt, which I do a lot of, pulling very tightly... and when I add shading, and the eye finishing details.

I'll have to try trimming last, or near last, on my next bear.  I've got one on the table in process but the next one will get this treatment.

I tried something new on the current one; setting the eyes first and then doing the nose.  Gotta say, I prefer doing the nose and mouth first, and THEN the eyes.  It somehow makes more sense to me.  Interestingly, when I sketch portraits, which I used to do a fair amount of, I MUST start with the eyes!  There must be some gap between 2D and 3D, for me.

But that, again, is one of those personal preference things... !

yosemitebearworks Oakhurst, CA
Posts: 64

Shelli,   In regard to your absolutely darling little Fae  --- her face may have started out accidentally, but the results are amazing!!  She well earned her honors at N.C.   One of my quilt teachers many years ago told us "There are no accidents...there are only opportunities."  You certainly made the most of yours with Fae. 
I do some rough clipping of the face pieces before sewing, especially with dense mohair, plus I always clip the seam allowances and then sew.  After sewing, I clip a bit more,  stuff,  set eyes and then on to the final grooming.  For some reason I always do the nose the very last...that's why the last few days before a show are generally "nose days".   bear_rolleyes   
Donna B

Pijangibears Pijangibears
Posts: 870

Hi Shelli

Just like you, I trim the headpieces before sewing together.
I find it easyer to do, because I am not very good at clipping.

Fae is gorgeous.

What is a five-o-clock-shading? bear_wacko

Hugs Birgitte

SunnieOne Sunnie Bears
Ridgecrest, CA
Posts: 1,167

Add me into Shelli's corner. I trim all of the seam allowances with clippers before sewing. If I know the bear will have a shaved muzzle, I also trim the muzzle and side pieces before sewing. If I am not sure I will wait until after, but I usually trim the nose area of both the sides and the muzzle with clippers before sewing.  I stitch the nose first and then set the eyes. Ears go on last after the bear is done

kbonsall Kim-Bee Bears
Posts: 5,645

I sew my head up and then do my face, then trim bear_original  I would never attach a head before I do my face, like was said before, in case I screw up really bad then I don't have a whole bear that gets chucked... I can usually do things to save a bear... like Shelli... sometimes a mistake happens and you make the best of it and maybe it happens for a reason! Fae would probably not have been happy without her stubble bear_original SHE IS GORGEOUS SHEL, one of my favs! OH I WISH I WISH I COULD AFFORD A SHELLI BEAR!!  If I win the lottery, I will go broke buying all the bears I cant afford now LOL

Chico, California
Posts: 9,939

Shelli Retired Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

Pijangibears wrote:

What is a five-o-clock-shading?

Birgitte... "five-o-clock-shadow" is that shadow of beard fuzz that men get on their cheeks and chins, at around 5:00 p.m. every day, since they tend to shave in the morning, and their hair grows a bit by the time the workday ends at five!!!  This is especially true of the dark and hairy types. 


shantell Apple Dumpling Designs
Willamette Valley Oregon
Posts: 3,128

Wow...I would never have dreamed of shaving/trimming my bears BEFORE sewing it together.   Like others, I sew my head together, trim or  pluck the nose area, stitch the nose & mouth, trim the eye area a bit, set the eyes, do the ears and then do all the final trimming which often takes me several times...a little here...a little there...put 'em down...go back later....comb, brush, snip, snip.  I then do the shading if I am doing any.

So many ways to do the same thing...

BearBottoms 'Bear' Bottoms Originals
Ft. Bragg, NC
Posts: 2,465

This is an interesting post!  I'm sure I'm of little help, since I'm not really a veteran or one of the well known bear artists, but my clipping is a very gradual process.  I stuff the head before doing any clipping, than I do the actual nose area and light clipping where I know I'm going to want to have the fur shorter.  I'll usually get the general symmetrical shape of the face/muzzle at this point.  Then I needle sculpt, trim, needle sculpt some more if I need to, put the ears on, trim, put in the eyes, trim, embroider the nose, trim.... lol, are we seeing a trend? I don't 'scissor sculpt' all at one time, as the face develops, so does my idea of what the face should look like, thus more sculpting.  I always do my sculpting little by little, so I'm not quite as prone to overdo it.

By the way, I LOVE Fae.....  She is absolutely gorgeous.  Something to strive for, that kind of perfection.... bear_happy

Kimberly W.

doodlebears Doodlebears
Posts: 7,414

doodlebears Celebration Ambassador

Shelli Fae is just fantastic so these mistakes often happen for a good reason.

I always trim the seams before sewing then I trim the stuffed head slightly , add the nose and eyes then finish the trimming to what i think looks right for the bear. I couldn't get the trim how I want it on a bear that I am making at the moment so I have ended up plucking every hair out of her muzzle. I please with the result and will be finishing her off later today. There is no going back once you start to pluck so be sure thats what you want before doing it.

Hugs Jane  bear_flower

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

I trim the top of the muzzle a little before I sew the head together. Then I put the whole bear together and do the face last. I mark where the eyes will go, do the nose first, then the eyes,  then the trimming and then the ears and then more trimming, and then more trimming. bear_grin  bear_grin I just use small embroidery scissors.

DebbieD Posts: 3,540

The only time I'll trim beforehand is if its a small bear and long fur, like fox.  Then I do a 'block' type cut where I've still got plenty of fur, but have trimmed off the bulk before hand. 

I also trim down to the hide where my nose will sit, and the seam allowances, but that's it.  I've got to see the face before I start trimming, even though I know the bridge of the nose will be short, I still tend to leave all the scissoring til the very end. 

Fay is ADORABLE!!!!   bear_wub

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