I'm taking a break after stuffing the leg of a big 20" bear (I can easily spend an hour filling each limb of a bear this size), and I'm feeling glad that I figured out something about this part of the bear-making process that I never read in any set of instructions.
When I started making bears, I read in books and patterns that one first filled a limb and then closed it up using the ladder stitch. So I would carefully try to stuff the limb completely and then close up the seam, but inevitably the stuffing would be bulging out through the seam I was trying to close, or else I didn't stuff as firmly or as evenly as I wanted to.
What I do now is to stuff the foot (for example) and lower leg and then the upper part around the joint. Then I start the ladder stitch at the top of the seam, and as I sew, I add stuffing to the parts that still need it. With a stuffing tool, I can add bits of stuffing to any part of the limb--even as the opening gets smaller. By the time I finish closing the seam, I've had complete control over how much stuffing I've inserted and exactly where I've put it. It's a little thing, but it makes me happy.
What tips and techniques have you figured out for yourself that have made made your life and your bears better?
I think I read about doing that in the Ted Menten Book....it's a good plan..I do that now...just loosely sewing and pulling it up almost like a shoe lace and you can keep stuffing through the stitches. The other way to avoid messy seam closures is to cut a tab that you fold under as you sew .....it just gives you more leeway when closing the opening. ...sometimes the seam allowance is very small and can fray...so adding a bit of extra width just on the openings helps to strengthen..and neaten the closure.
hi there i use a funnel for emptying glass beads into a tummy it works perfectly as for sewing the seams up before stuffing ive been doing it for a long time works perfectly also stops seams from puckering when you get to end of closeing off just dont do your ladder stitching to tight as it wont close neatly when pulled
Ooh what an interesting thread!
I made a small funnel out of card and use a small teaspoon to scoop in and insert steel shot. I picked up the tip of using chopsticks a while ago from someone on this site and it has been an absolute god send - you can really push in the stuffing if needed
Ah, I love how great minds think alike! I close my seams just how you do, Becky. Even making small bears, it's soooo much easier, and many times when teaching I've noticed people struggling with bulging stuffing til I've suggested they try 'our way'
And Pink, I use those sugar dispensers too, one for glass, one for steel, so handy. Plus they look cute on the workbench. I'd love to find a couple of pretty old ones to use.
I really admire those of you who make the teeny tiny bears, I may try sometime, but my bears are usually large at 17" or so, smallest have been 7". I would like to make a 2" bear, that would be teeny tiny for me. http://www.teddy-talk.com/img/smilies/bear_wub.gif
Hummmm probably my best tip would be to not ignore something you know isn't quite right. It might be a ever so slightly wonky nose or one eye sunk deeper than the other, one limb just that bit higher than the other - you know the kind of thing. You try to persuade yourself 'oh it will be ok when I do so and so' or 'maybe its just the pile' etc'. It can be very frustrating when your excited about your new bear and can't wait to see it finished. BUT hold your horses it took ages to do and will take ages to be done again but if you don't sort it it out at this point you will never be happy with the end result. Or is this just me?
You are absolutely right, Michelle! This is a lesson that is hard to learn. I think most of it fight it all the time! In fact, I am doing it as we speak, but this time I actually stopped and redid the whole face. Very happy I did. When I spot something that I think is not quite right, I ask my husband, Mike, to look at it, but I don't tell him what I think is wrong. He can spot it all the time! Then I know it needs fixing. I also use the mirror trick, and take a picture trick, but I can still deceive myself with these methods, so husband trick works best for me!!!