There's no doubt it takes many years of trial and error to become truly proficient at making an heirloom quality teddy bear. There are many techniques to master, but I believe that with patience and determination, anyone can learn how to make a teddy bear. When I made my very first teddy bear, I had no idea how the pieces of a bear fitted together and didn't understand how a jointed teddy bear's limbs worked, so I bought a child's kit from the local toy shop and spent hours hand stitching a very simple bear with plastic safety joints.
Orange Blob Bear - a child's toy teddy bear making kit
'Orange Blob Bear' was the very first bear I ever made twenty five years or so ago and I remember being very pleased with myself because he looked just like the bear on the kit cover. Back then, that was satisfaction enough.
Ivor - a mohair kit bear
But after 'Orange Blog Bear', the bear-making bug bit me and I wanted to make what I thought of as 'a proper bear'. My next project was a mohair kit bear purchased from a teddy bear show. I called this bear 'Ivor' and strategically placed a tartan bow to disguise the fact he had one arm placed quite a bit higher than the other!
Pomeroy - one of my earliest designs
I loved the fact Ivor was mohair with jointed limbs and glass eyes - at the time he seemed a huge improvement on my previous synthetic orange teddy bear kit and he inspired me to start trying to design my own patterns ... slowly but surely, large traditional teddy bears with big feet and floppy ears began to come to emerge from the old Singer sewing machine my mother-in-law had given me.
'The Biscuit Bears' - one of my favourite 2010 collections
Since those very early bear-making steps, I have designed well over a thousand teddy bears and with each year that has passed, my bear-making skills have developed ...
'Bellamy' - a 22" bear I designed for a collector
So whenever I'm asked today how I make the bears look the way they do, I can only answer, 'it comes with years and years of practise'! I just started simply and kept taking small creative steps forward ...
This weekend I designed a simple soft toy owl from cotton fabrics and felt. Now 'Twiggy' has been completed, ideas for developing my simple softie are starting to emerge ...
So my advice to anyone hoping to create a masterpiece, is 'start simple and allow your creativity to emerge a step at a time'. After all, what's the hurry?!