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Teddy Bear Evolution

You guys, I fell down a teddy bear shaped rabbit hole. It started innocently enough with some pretty simple teddy bears for Rare Science a la McCall C5461. If you aren’t familiar with the Rare Bear Program, quilters sew up OOAK bears with scraps and the bears are distributed to kids living with rare disease. They are super easy to make and I encourage everyone to give it a shot 🙂 Rare Science volunteers can do the embroidery & stuffing for you, but I’ve always been too much of a control freak to take them up on their generous offer. It costs me a little more in shipping, but I usually completely finish the heads before I send them to Rare Science for distribution. The work has been wonderfully fulfilling, and one of these days I hope to receive a photo of one of my bears with his/her child. Aren’t they cute, even with just their heads?

But I digress…

This December I needed a couple of emergency teddy bears. I decided to re-purpose McCall C5461 using my preferred materials: enter velour, faux fur and safety eyes! I made two rose gold bears – one in cotton velour with cotton sherpa accents, and one in two-toned rose minky with velour accents. I totally adore both of them and couldn’t pick a favorite even if I had to. I think the velour one has one of the sweetest expressions I’ve ever made – I’m totally smitten!

From there, I sort of got teddy bear fever. I started looking at artist bears and stumbled upon Emma’s Bears. Her work is just amazing! If you aren’t familiar with her art, you should absolutely go check it out! A lot of the techniques she uses are new to me, which is equal parts terrifying and exciting 🙂

I decided to order one of Emma’s teddy bear kits to get started. Frequent readers won’t be surprised that I went with a rainbow-tastic faux fur, haha. 😉 I also purchased her “Lyric” pattern because I’m a sucker for pandas.

I’ve sewn a lot of softies at this point, and even a fair number of bears, but this teddy bear was full of new challenges. For one, he is less of a children’s toy and more of a collector’s item. He has German glass eyes, fully jointed limbs, and a fully-jointed head. I added black shading around his eyes with silk fabric dye, and little white felt pieces along the lower edge of his eyes. I carefully clipped back the fur around his muzzle so he has puffy cheeks and a defined snout — high risk, high reward on that maneuver! Lest the quilter in me feel left out, I also employed some fussy-cutting skills to cut around the indents in the lilac fur (previously of purple plush guinea pig fame).

I am pretty damn pleased with how the he turned out, but I’m even more proud of the journey I took making him. It feels good to find new new challenges, and push myself outside my comfort zone. He will be a permanent resident around here, but I don’t think my bear making journey is over. I had entirely too much fun making him and can’t decide whether or not to add a collector’s section to my Etsy shop. I do love to make kids smile, but don’t adults deserve a little fluffy indulgence, too? 🙂

Happy sewing, friends!

Linking up with CrazyMom Quilts for Finish It Up Friday. I can’t wait to see what you’re all making!

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Chris February 9, 2018, 8:16 am

    Oh my goodness, I want to squoosh them all!

    • Jen February 9, 2018, 9:36 am

      Aww thanks so much, Chris!

  • Kat February 10, 2018, 1:10 am

    These are all so cool! I have never heard of this program before; what a great organization!

  • Małgorzata February 10, 2018, 3:43 am

    I love it!!!!

  • Tracy February 13, 2018, 9:40 pm

    They are spectacular, Jen!! I can’t even imagine how long each bear must take. Cheers for learning new things 🙂

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