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

I'm wanting to create some of my own vintage looking outfits for a few bears...just something to try.  I know absolutely NOTHING about the construction of clothing.   I hated home ec and paid about as much attention to that part of class as a sleeping bear.   Cooking was another story...  Personally, I wanted to take Woodshop but they wouldn't let me because I was a GIRL...stupid private school.

So...does anyone have any good resources for basic clothing, website, anything...HELP!!!   I don't know where to begin!!  I'm wanting everything to have a nice finished look.


FRAN...DILU...where are you?

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

I wish I could help. But sadly, I can't sew a shirt to save my life! Clothing has just never interested me.
I can say if you have Ted Mentons book, he's got a few simple patterns for a dress, a vest etc.
I'm also intersted in the replies.

WildThyme Wild Thyme Originals
Hudson, Ohio
Posts: 3,115

Shantell... I'd suggest one of the many books out there about making doll's clothes.... of course you'll probaby end up having to modify the pattern a whole lot because bear proportions and doll proportions are often quite different.  Patterns for baby dolls can come close though....  If you are looking for something to look at so you know what a yoke looks like or what a basic poofy sleeve looks like, etc... I'd suggest :

The Doll's Dressmaker by Venus A. Dodge … oding=UTF8

Beary truly yours,
Kim Basta
Wild Thyme Originals

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

Thanks Kim...I should have known you would know.  I keep forgetting that you have a background in just this type of thing.   :redface:

I'll check it out.  I just really need the basics and I think I can muddle my way through the rest.  I actually paid enough attention in home ec to get a A but I hated's one of those use it/lose it skills...I completely lost.

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

I can't sew clothes to save my life.... I DID take woodworking and metalworking in school!!!! Loved it! But it didn't help me much for real life situations!

Good luck, Shantell!

And leave it to you to keep us challenged with thought provoking questions!! :hug:


WildThyme Wild Thyme Originals
Hudson, Ohio
Posts: 3,115

AWW... Shantell, no need to be  :redface:  at all!  Actually, most of the dolls I've ever made were barely dressed at all... just little wispy things here and there..... I actually learned to sew by making dolls clothes though when I was a tiny little thing!  I do have several books on doll costuming though because I've made a few reproduction dresses for my Mom's doll collection (40's and 50's composition and hard plastic dolls) Sometimes the original clothes were just in such horrible condition that they really coulldn't be displayed without further damage... so I made some repros that were very close to the originals......

Daphne... I took woodworking in high school too and loved every minute of it!

Kim Basta
Wild Thyme Originals

Aleta - The Silly Bear The Silly Bear
Portland, Oregon
Posts: 3,119

Hi Shantell,  bear_flower
I have the book that Kim mentioned.  If you'd like to borrow it, just let me know. 

Warmest bear hugs,

P.S.  If you'd rather buy one, try a used book store first.....they're much less expensive.  Or, eBay might even have one.

Chico, California
Posts: 9,939

Shelli Retired Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

I have that book as well and the patterns are very easy to use and even better, to adapt.  And this, coming from a gal who never took anything even resembling Home Ec (it wasn't offered at my school) and is basically self-taught, with zero dressmaking experience.

I bought my book at Chico's largest and oldest used book store for a great price way back when I first started bearmaking,  and it was worth every penny!

The best part about this book is that it has pattern pieces you can mix and match in, if memory serves, 3-4 different sizes.  You can add or remove sleeves, change lengths, necklines, etc. with ease.

Good luck!

Amanda Pandy Potter Bears
Staffordshire, UK
Posts: 1,864

dressedbears2.jpgdressedbears1.jpgI have a book called The Well Dressed Bear by Geraldine Thistlethwaite. Weidenfeld and Nicolson publishers. It shows you how to make the outfits I have pictured. It is a great book but as usual I have never got around to using it. All the clothes are lined and finished off really well. See what you think I could always scan somemore pages if you want to see what else there is.

SueAnn Past Time Bears
Double Oak, Texas
Posts: 21,798

SueAnn Help Advisor, Banner Sponsor

Here are a couple of other titles that might help, also.  Classic Teddy Bear Designs . . . Heirlooms to Make and Dress by Estelle Ansley Worrell and Making Lovable Teddy Bears and Their Clothes by Marion Thielmann & Beate Franz.

LynBlair Posts: 139

Hi Shantell,
I'm adding my vote for the Doll's Dressmaker by Venus Dodge as well.  It's a top notch resource.  I have the Thistlethwaite book too and feel it's, comparatively, not all that great.  I have some issues with the fit and finishing of the author's work, but I'm hyper-picky about that sort of thing, so it may just be me.

If you're interested in tailored, fitted clothes, I'm not really sure there's a fabulous resource specifically for bearmaking.  I've managed to acquire just about every possible bear related book imaginable and still haven't found anything better than the Venus Dodge book.  On the other hand, if you're more interested in baby type clothes, like christening gowns and such, you may want to look into human baby patterns and scale them down.  If this is what you're thinking about doing, I'd suggest looking into some of Nancy Coburn's books as they're very thorough and the patterns are included.
(I've never done any business with this site, but posted the URL because they seem to have most of her books.)

Best wishes!,

LynBlair Posts: 139

I just wanted to add this url, as the sizing would be perfect for smaller bears.  Apparently, the preemie sizing starts at 1 pound. bear_cry … ygowns.htm


Irene Irenours-bears
Posts: 508

Maybe you can also by patterns at your fabrics store and adapt them to your bear size. bear_original

carsoncreations Carson Creations
Macomb, IL
Posts: 252


I have used the baby patterns from McCall's, Butterick, etc.  They are roomy for a bear whereas the doll patterns are for a more shapely figure and we know most bears do not have a waist as such.    Altering the baby patterns would be at a minimum to fit your bear.

I have also made patterns from ready made clothing, such as the little pants for Tyler.  I made the pattern from a pair of vintage wool child's pants.  This involves a lot of measuring, etc.

I'm sure you will do fine.  The gals have  given a great list of resources on this subject.   You'll have to show us the finished attire.



Eileen Baird'sBears
Posts: 3,873

bear_laugh  bear_laugh Shantell,

I was a total washout in Home Economics too! When we made aprons, I sewed the pocket on upside down. Mine was the only jello that wouldn't set. The tsk-tsking my teacher aimed my way seriously blighted my youth.

However . . . even a Home Economics washout can learn, when the motivation is right. I had to make/cut down clothing for my daughters, because they were too big to fit into children's sizes. I cut down adult snowsuits from the Goodwill store, and even made one myself--all by myself. When my eldest found out that her favorite jumper (not a sweater, but a dress you wear with shirt underneath) was originally a maternity dress, the you-know-what hit the you-know what, and the game was up. The label inside read "Lady Madonna".

Anyhow . . . I'd advise following the excellent advice above--but also find a book on basic garment construction that covers finishing seams and (concealing the inner mess with) linings. Unlike bears, clothing can't hide its seam allowances. The finished thingy has to be presentable inside out as well as outside in.


matilda Matilda Huggington-beare
Posts: 5,551

Amanda that book is sooooo coool.! I've been busy designing a tuxeda jacket for a platypus. I still have the hat to do.     I'm no dress maker, but have found since I can draw patterns for bears it isnt really that different drawing patterns to clothe them. IF of course you know what you want to do .  I say just goto it with confidence and then anything is possible, almost. bear_grin   Wendy bear_thumb

Pijangibears Pijangibears
Posts: 870

Hi Shantell

I can help you with a lot of patterns from babyborn. I can scan you what you need to a doll 42 cm,
and you can size them down.

Hugs Birgitte  bear_rolleyes

Dilu Posts: 8,574

When I design a new outfit for a golly I draw out what I want and then draw out the pieces individually.  Then I estimate the neck ( usually way bigger) and arms and crotch and hips.

I then add on to my pattern new gollydolly takes and extra 2-3 inches in neck modifications....but her back needs less material and her tummy needs 2-4 more inches and so on.

Then I cut out the paper pattern and pinfit it- to see how it is going.......


When I was faced with home ec and having to take sewing I happened to be wearing a plaid pleated skirt i had made.  Those who sew alot will know that making a plaid pleated skirt isn't such a big deal....but I said to the home ec teacher that unless we were going to learn fitted classic lined jackets it didn't make much sense to put me in class.....and showed her my skirt. SHE asked that I be reassigned to another class.

boy was I lucky.....all they did were aprons.  Like who needs a pattern for an apron?

Once the paper pattern is in line I will cut out the fabric.

I did blow it once on a large Teddie.....My Ben Franklin.  I forgot he had a hump, which really changes the lay of keep that in mind too if your are planning on bears with humps.


krystolla Fuzzbutt Bears
Columbus Ohio
Posts: 87

In my home ec class I made . . . a teddy bear. bear_original I'm glad I didn't have to do clothing, that wouldn't have been nearly as much fun.

I did have to take shop class too, most of the shop teachers scared me (why are they all missing fingers!) except for the one shop teacher who let me play with legos instead of the loud, finger-removing equipment.

-- Erika
Fuzzbutt Bears

Just Us Bears Just Us Bears
Posts: 940

Shantell I am working on a line of bears dressed in vintage style clothes too (eeeeekkk, hope that doesn't make me a COPYCAT!!! bear_tongue ) I'm leaving them without shoes and call them 'Bear'foot beauties. With mine, I'm not actually using patterns but just draping and pinning the actual fabrics on the bears and then cutting the rough shape. Whether it works or not remains to be seen!
Which leads me to my next question.
When dressing it necessary for the clothing to be removable or can you stitch the clothes onto the bear?? Call me lazy but this would save having to use closures.
Any rules regarding this that I should know about or can I use artistic licence?
Shantell...there are some wonderful fake vintage laces and silks in some of the shops now...not ultra cheap but so realistic looking. You don't need much just to embellish a dress. I found a shop in Melbourne the other day with some beautiful ones and did some serious damage to the Visa card! bear_cry

shantell Apple Dumpling Designs
Willamette Valley Oregon
Posts: 3,128
Just Us Bears wrote:

Shantell I am working on a line of bears dressed in vintage style clothes too (eeeeekkk, hope that doesn't make me a COPYCAT!!! bear_tongue )

Ha...too funny. 

Thank ladies for all your advice and suggestions.  I perused through the used  bookstore today but found nothing even remotely to what I was looking for.   I had fun nonetheless because they have "library kitties" I spent some time petting them.

Eileen Baird'sBears
Posts: 3,873

bear_original  I just ordered the Venus Dodge book from$15  :dance:

I'm interested in Hayley's question too. Anybody know the answer?


Best Dressed Bears Best Dressed Bears
Posts: 103

Hi Shantell and Hayley,
I have just been reading some of the information here on creating bear costumes. I think doll patterns would probably be a great idea... even premature baby outfits which you can pull apart and look at would be good.
Clothing is basically just a standard shape. Generally rectangular shape.
It is really hard to explain and I create costumes as I go. I dont have set patterns for the costumes I make a new one each time I make an outfit and I cut straight onto the fabric.... but I have been making clothing for a lot of years.
I dont make my clothing removeable. I treat the clothing just like human clothing...its just smaller.  I do make fake fly fronts in the gentlemens trousers and when I make the ladies garments i make fake closures on there skirts also. I think it comes down to artist licence. Even though my clothes cannot be removed I treat the finish on the inside the same as the outside.
I have a full fur bear also underneath all the clothing I find it helps make the clothing sit nicer.
I line all my jackets and one tip when you are putting clothing together is always press your seams. I am a pressing freak!! It  makes so much of a difference to how the seams look and also the finish of the garment. My iron is on full time!!! Dont be shy to trim back seams... this makes a huge difference as well.
I believe you can buy these new little irons which i am going to investigate cos i think they would be great for getting into the fiddly collar bits etc.
I dont know if this has been of any help. please email me directly or give me a call cos maybe i can explain it better hopefully.
Bear hugs and smiles

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

I believe you can buy these new little irons which i am going to investigate cos i think they would be great for getting into the fiddly collar bits etc.

Kerrie, I have one of those fiddly little irons and they work great.  I bought mine for applique and quilting projects and for that I love it.

Thanks for the if I can only find time to actually apply any of it bear_original

Just Us Bears Just Us Bears
Posts: 940

Thankyou were a great help! So do you actually stitch the clothes onto your bears then?
I saw those great little irons at the Stitches and Craft show in Melbourne and gotta get one! :dance:

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