Thursday 25 May 2023

Teddy Bear Pals, where it began..


You may have spotted 'Jellybean' on my website yesterday, a bubblegum pink and yellow elephant-teddy I created earlier this week. I occasionally make a teddy bear pal and usually their design stems from somewhere deep in the mists of my childhood...

The original 'ellie' wasn't made by me, it was in fact given to me by an uncle in 1963, the year of my birth. Back in those distant days, my little pink ellie had floppy ears and felt eyes, but as is the way of much loved childhood toys, those were worn away with many hugs, over the passage of time.

Ellie was one of a select group of soft toys gifted to me as a baby... Big Ted, my first Chiltern Hugmee teddy bear, was given to me on my first birthday by my parents, Scotty was a handmade black dog made by my Nana's boarding house lodger, Sooty, a mohair glove puppet given to me by an auntie and my now earless ellie, managed to survive six long decades and are with me today... a little more careworn perhaps, but still much loved and importantly, still together.

Which brings me to the other pink ellie in the photograph created in 2007, an attempt to replicate my childhood elephant toy and my first ever elephant design. Since 2007, there have been other elephant designs along the way, Abe, Delilah, Starlight, Forget-me-not, Ma Cherie, Butterfly, Bluebell... and now, to celebrate Summer 2023, my latest ellie-bear, Jellybean.

Ma Cherie 2011

Bluebell 2021

Delilah 2008

Forget-me-not 2011

Butterfly 2013

Starlight 2009

Jellybean 2023

I still have quite a soft spot for an ellie it transpires!

Wednesday 3 May 2023

Purring Perfection



I ummed and ahhed for a while, asked a friend or two (thank you!) browsed, Googled and so on and so on, until a magic lightbulb moment struck... my trusty Pfaff Select 4.0, a decent hardworking machine, had been begging for rest and tlc recently after making many, many teddy bears over the years, my previous Pfaff Professional lay disgarded in the attic gathering dust, after being jammed solid by my daughter's attempt to alter a rather saucy Santa outfit a few years ago (!) and my prize and joy, my beautiful 1928 Singer handcrank, sat gleaming proudly in my living room, way too beautiful to be employed as a teddy bear making workhorse... so, I waited and waited, mulling over all things sewing, (including my budget, which was far from open ended!)

Eventually, as luck would have it, a 1986 Bernina 910 entered my radar, reminding me of school days back in the late 1970's, when I first learned to thread a sewing machine... by coincidence, also a sturdy Bernina. I remembered feeling safe with the machine, enjoying the reliable engine purr as I stitched pieces of colourful fabric together at an afterschool sewing class. The machine on my radar had clearly been loved, carefully maintained and regularly used, so I scraped up a little 'brave neck' to ask if the owner would accept an offer... and fortunately the stars aligned for us! The owner, although sad to part with her beloved Bernina, needed an industrial machine for her business, so had the Bernina serviced, given a clean bill of health and sent off to her new owner... me!

And here she is, sat on my desk, about to sew her very first teddy bear!  She came with a lovely selection of toys, (very few of which I know what to do with!) and despite her mature years (almost forty of them) still stitches like the pro she is, precisely, confidently and with purring perfection. She is a no nonsense gal, straightforward, mechanical and very obliging, with a super little heel tap drop needle function which is so useful. I couldn't be more pleased with her and am thrilled I decided to take the plunge and buy a vintage sewing machine!


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