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Shelli SHELLI MAKES
Chico, California
Posts: 9,939
Website

Shelli Retired Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

I NEVER have this problem and so have not paid attention when this may have been discussed before.  I am having a ton of trouble turning my real fur bear legs.  The pelts are thick, the fur is dense, and the openings are relatively small as a result.

I've tried fingers and hemostats already.  Anybody have a method, or "order", to how they turn difficult limbs; that might help me out?  This seems like an incredibly dumb question but sometimes there's a miracle cure to be found for such things.

I'd rather not rip out any stitching since it weakens the pelt but I'm thinking that's where I'm headed at this point.  Live and learn.  It's all a lesson!

The bear is turning out very nicely, I think, but it's been almost an entire week of slow and tedious prep and sewing work.  VERY DIFFICULT to stitch thru four layers, two of them leather.  Even with the right kind of needle and a thimble.  I have an entirely new and deepened respect for artists who work with real fur on a regular basis.

Thanks in advance,

kbonsall Kim-Bee Bears
Pennsylvania
Posts: 5,645

I use a hemostats and sometimes I use a crochet hook (the non-hook end) to push it through, VERY VERY carefully though.... that is my suggestion, maybe someone else has a better idea??

Donna Donna's Duin Bruins
Burbank, CA
Posts: 900

Shelli,
I should have warned you when I read that you were going into the world of real fur.  I always leave much bigger openings for turning.  You might try the ultimate stuffing tool.  I use it alot for turning.  Start at the toe and push it up and towards the opening.  As you go get the hemostats and gently pull from inside the leg.  Keep checking to see how much stress you are putting on the opening.  It may be best to take some of your stitching out.  Also when I do a real fur bear I use a longer stitch than what I use for mohair.  Again, sorry I didn't give you a heads up before you started this bear.

Donna

Shelli SHELLI MAKES
Chico, California
Posts: 9,939
Website

Shelli Retired Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

Hey, it's not YOUR responsibility!  I thought of using the stuffing tool -- that thing is good for almost anything! -- but I'm using real leather pawpads and was afraid I might mar or scuff them no matter WHAT tool I used, if I pushed on them directly. 

Thanks for the pointers.  I think I'll try your method one last time before resorting to removing some stitching.  I just had no idea how much harder it would be.  I always have to learn these things the hard way; that's why I ask a lot of questions before beginning!

You're appreciated!

kbonsall Kim-Bee Bears
Pennsylvania
Posts: 5,645

I should have mentioned the "bigger holes"  I also keep the stuffing holes towards the ankle so the foot doesn't have to come through the skinny part of the leg... it depends on how long the fur is too (I have only made two real fur bears but this is what I have encountered so far...)

millie PottersHouse Bears
Ohio
Posts: 2,173

I use a pencil with a new eraser on it.  The eraser lets you get some traction.  But it is not always an easy thing to do.  There have been times when I just want to throw it across the room and walk away.  Patience is always in order.

Dilu Posts: 8,574

Millie- what a practical idea!
Thanks
Dilu

Shelli SHELLI MAKES
Chico, California
Posts: 9,939
Website

Shelli Retired Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

Yes, and it proved just the trick to gently force the foot thru the opening on one of my limb pieces.  The other one, though, just wouldn't budge through, so I had to take out some stitching.

I found in the end that:
1)  I need to leave bigger openings for so much fur and pelt to fit through
2)  The eraser works beautifully to grip a tiny point and shove it through the opening
3)  In combination with a tightly clamped hemostat, you can use the eraser to great advantage to push/pull the foot through
4)  But if the opening just isn't large enough, you will have to resort to picking out stitches!

Just wanted to share those lessons...

Gail Bear With Me Enterprises
Posts: 1,319
Website

Hi Shelli
Most of my business comes from commission work for fur bears . As a result I finally purchased an industrial sewing machine and what a difference. I found that sewing them using my regular machine was just too hard on that machine and it was hard to go through all of those layers. If this is something you want to get into then consider a sewing machine just for fur bears although you can also use it for other fabrics as well. If you wanted to use your stuffing tool you could wrap the end of it so the point doesn't mark your foot fabric or heaven forbid go through it!!!!
Hugs
Gail

Judi Luxembears
Luxemburg, Wisconsin
Posts: 7,379

Shelli,
Also to add to all these really good tips, I have found that sometimes you have to leave the entire back of , lets say, the leg section, open and sew it up on wrong sides together using ladder stitching.  This is especially true with using arctic fox fur as it is so incredibly thick, or New Zeland sheep.

As you have found out....leave very large openings for turning.  This may sound funny but if you lick your hands ...just a little, you will be able to grip the muslin side better for easing the turning process.  Hey it works!!!!!:D

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

Sorry too Shelli..I have made a lot of real fur bears...should have cautioned you...

To save a LOT of time and stress off the fur pelts I always leave the openings bigger...on a leg I leave unstitched at the top directly across from the joint ..clear down to the ankle.

That's so I can easliy get my tools into the leg for jointing. It seems like a lot of opening but it is best...then I close the seams with one strand ( split )  waxed artificial sinue thread which NEVER slips on me..and is a real blessing on real fur.
You can't see much when hand stitching on real fur..I have to go by " feel" with the ladder stitch. I make my closing ladder stitches about 1/4" apart with  1/4" seams.... and the fur will want to get pulled into each hole ...agh!

you will develope a new skill here...I deal with one stitch at a time, make sure it is DIRECTLY across from where you are....this way one side will not gain in length on you...and the other side would be shorter..
Be sure you also catch the muslin lining when stitching, if it fell away during handeling  then glue the edges together again with an office roll up glue before you continue stitching.

Pull each stitch gently together to close that part , at times you will find it helps to pinch the two edges  together with your opposite fingers ,then pull the stitch ..put in small bits of stuffing as you go with the hemostats to fill up the limb/part .

Last ....you may need to pick out the fur from EACH stitch as you go...fussy, fussy...you want to check to make sure you have actually pulled the seams together and there is NO gap...you don't want to find igaps later when you think you  are done... 

If you had to take stitches out to turn the parts...try to use the same holes you made when you go to hand stitch the openings again.

The pencil eraser thing works really good for grip on smaller bears... I use a woden spoon handle for the bigger bears...hmmm, wonder if I could make a new type tool here by gluing a larger perle eraser on the end ? 

Be really carefull with the hemostats ! I have gone thru some parts using that thing...then I had to go back and cut out new parts! .....Winney

Shelli SHELLI MAKES
Chico, California
Posts: 9,939
Website

Shelli Retired Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

You girls are fantastic!  Thanks for all the pointers.  I have to say the little booger is all done now and between Nancy Tillberg's book (and her course, which I took just now, after the fact, to fill in the blank spots -- and there still were some), and your input, and life's best teacher -- hard experience -- I think I've figured out ways to perform more efficiently, and with much less frustration (I swear I wanted to pitch that d**n thing through the window yesterday), on the next real fur bear I create.  I've got some rabbit to work with, which will be easier than the mink (if more fragile) because it's just, plain and simple, a thinner, less dense fur.  And I've got some squirrel stoles, which are actually incredibly, incredibly soft.  I can't wait to see how they stitch up into teddies.  So the difficulty is worth it and I will make real fur critters again.  They just whip up into something  very unlike what mohair can do.  Soooo lush and glossy and luxurious.  I think I'm even gonna keep this gal, and maybe enter her into one of the contests.  She was supposed to be for eBay... :rolleyes:;)

However, for just plain enjoyment in bearmaking, I have to admit I will probably always be a fan, first and foremost, of mohair. Ah, mohair.  There's just nothing else like it in the world...  ;)

Waxing rhapsodic on the wonders of the angora goat...

kbonsall Kim-Bee Bears
Pennsylvania
Posts: 5,645

I wish I could find a place around where I live that sold mohair.  I am a feel type of person that once I touch and see the color in person, i know that is the right color/type for the bear that is in my head... I should also mention, I am a person that needs things NOW and dont like to pay and wait and wait and wait for things to show up, kinda impatient I am LOL :lol::P

SueAnn Past Time Bears
Flower Mound, Texas
Posts: 20,606

SueAnn Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

Want to see the new fur bear, Shelli . . . . puhleeeeeze???!!!

Shelli SHELLI MAKES
Chico, California
Posts: 9,939
Website

Shelli Retired Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

I'm still tweaking the facial detailing because I want it to be a departure in every way from what I've done before.  Will post when completely "complete"...

Thanks for asking.:)

Just Us Bears Just Us Bears
Australia
Posts: 940

Shelli....hearing you say you would like to keep that bear is wonderful. Do yourself a favour and allow yourself to keep it....completely GUILT FREE!!!!! Like all first bears...this one is special, and you've been through a lot together. Keep him!!!!!
There will be more fur bears to sell, but never another first!

Shelli SHELLI MAKES
Chico, California
Posts: 9,939
Website

Shelli Retired Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

Hayley, you're a dear.  But I do have to pay my bills, which are NOT my first, and will not be my last, and since this is my income source I have to pick and choose carefully which I keep and which go, which is why I only have two.  If  I keep this one I will sell one of the two already in my "personal collection."  Such are the hard realities of life. 

Thanks for being my cheerleader and supporter, tho; your point does not fall on deaf ears and if life paid for itself I would keep this one without hesitation.  You're appreciated.

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

Shelli..did you emb. the nose ? That's a toughie skill on real fur. We are all dying to see that lovely bear...Winney

Shelli SHELLI MAKES
Chico, California
Posts: 9,939
Website

Shelli Retired Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

Nope, I chickened out and made a clay one, which I rather like, actually.  I did clay noses on my first bears before my embroidery skillset was up to par.  It was a fun return, and I glossed this one heavily for a very shiny wet look.  I promise I'll post a photo when I'm done!  I'm thinking this one might be a contest entry, and possibly a dressed one at that, so it might take me a while to get it "all done."

Eileen Baird'sBears
Toronto
Posts: 3,873

Wow, Shelli :D

I wish I'd thought to ask this question before I started my first fur bear! Everything here is gold. As my ladder stitch improves, I find I'm using it a lot on fur and little bears--saves the old heart, though Noah's picture nearly stopped mine!!!

Eileen

millie PottersHouse Bears
Ohio
Posts: 2,173

Shelli,

Just to let you know, I found the squirrel fur very easy to work with.  I made a squirrel of squirrel fur with fox for the tail.  She turned out really nice.  I hollowed out a walnut and glued the shell back together for her to hold.   She sold pretty quickly.  I will post a picture shortly.

Eileen Baird'sBears
Toronto
Posts: 3,873

Millie!! :D

I want to see your squirrel. I love the little beasts and used to foster litters of babies, though my Dad spent the last seven years of his life in mortal combat against them! Pleeeeeze?

Eileen

millie PottersHouse Bears
Ohio
Posts: 2,173

IM000393.JPGHere's the squirrel.  The picture is not the greatest.  He really looked better in person.

Eileen Baird'sBears
Toronto
Posts: 3,873

Awwwww. He's wonderful, Millie! Thanks :D

Eileen

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