Bearmaking Bulletin

49 Florida Road, Durban, 4001
: (+27)(31)3127755
: (+27)(31)3129564
15th October 2012

Ship Ahoy!
Skippy Sailor on deck!


Click here to find Skippy kits and patterns on our website.

Meet Skippy, our sailor bear who is a dab hand on deck. Whilst he has a love of sailing the seven seas, he certainly has empathy with those landlubbers* who haven't found their sea-legs* yet!

Dressed for life at sea, this cute and cuddly 30cm bear is created from Steiff-Schulte's matted mohair and proudly wears his nautical collar and round dough-boy* style sailor's hat.

Skippy's kit includes his pattern and step-by-step instructions, dense matted gold-coloured Steiff-Schulte mohair, ultrasuede for his paws and footpads, joint discs and hardware to give him mobility, glass eyes and perle thread for stitching his nose and mouth. Also included are the pattern, instructions and fabric to make his collar and sailor's hat. Hollofibre filling is not included.

Perfect as a gift for a new born baby boy or a sea-faring friend or relative.

Skippy Kit Only R325 incl VAT - complimentary postage within South Africa.
Skippy Pattern Only R35 plus R10 postage.

*So what do these nautical terms mean?

An unseasoned sailor or someone unfamiliar with the sea.

Sea legs is the ability to walk steadily on the deck of a boat or ship.

One of many interpretations of this term is that doughboys were small round doughnuts served to sailors in the 19th century and so-called as they resembled the round buttons on the sailors' uniforms. The sailors came to be known as 'doughboys'. The name also refers to this particular style of sailor's hat because of its shape.

Back to Basics, Part 3

Back to SchoolOur 'Back to Basics' section provides ongoing useful hints to enhance your bearmaking experience. So far we have covered the topics of kit and pattern selection, making templates and this week we discuss the important decision of choosing fabrics for your bear.

Selecting your fur fabric


It's comforting for us to know that the quality of Steiff-Schulte's mohair, alpaca and woven-backing synthetics will produce an excellent end result in the making of our bears and you can rest assured that when using this mohair you, too, can obtain the same superb result.

Steiff-Schulte fabrics are easily recognizable not only by the green stripe on their selvedge, but by the tightly woven, 100% cotton backing and exceptional quality textures and finishes to their mohairs.

Where to start?

There are a variety of fabrics, by different manufacturers, available for making bears and you may already have fur, or been given some – in fact you don't necessarily have to make a bear from fur fabric. It could be cotton, denim, velvet. etc. — it all depends on the quality and effect you want for the final product. This may take some careful consideration on your part if you are new to bearmaking as there are many factors to take into account prior to purchasing fabric for your bears. We hope the following basic tips will provide some useful pointers.

Quality and type of fabric

Do you want to make a bear using knit-back or woven-back synthetic fur or rather use a natural fibre, such a mohair, alpaca or cotton? Are you looking for a high or low-end quality fur? In many instances mohair is easier to work with than knit-back synthetic fur, considering the fact that you can, for example, shave or pluck the mohair pile right down to the backing on a bear's snout, which will facilitate the embroidering of your ted's nose. And those noses are often the most challenging, but vital, part of your bear's facial features!

Colour of fabric

Many bearmakers favour traditional teddy colours of cream, gold, tan, browns etc. but there is a whole world of colours available for bearmakers to select from. Stay safe and traditional or go bright and bold and mix and match — let your imagination run riot!

Pile Length

How do I determine the pile length? This is the length of the fur measured from the backing to the tip of the fur and can be as short as 2mm or be as long as 10cm or more.

What pile length should novices choose and what is the easiest to begin with? The length selected depends on the pattern being used and size of the bear being made. A 10mm to 16mm pile is a good length to start with for a small to medium sized bear. Bear in mind, that two bears made from one pattern, but using different pile lengths, can adopt a totally different appearance!

Pile density

This is how densely (or closely) woven the pile is on the backing. Options are sparse, medium or dense with sparse or medium density being the easiest to start with and the denser piles being more challenging.

Texture / finish of fabric

Apart from the length of the pile and the density of the pile, the texture of the pile can vary. Texture refers to whether it is straight, curly, matted, distressed, wavy, swirly, etc. Each of these textures will make your bear look different. Apart from the texture, the finish of the mohair can also be tipped, where the tip of the mohair is a different colour from the base pile.

The backing fabric

The backing of the fur must be taken into account when purchasing fabric. For example, a synthetic fur with a knitted backing will have more stretch than a woven backing. That means that when you fill your bear you need to take extra care not to over-fill the knit-back fur due to its stretch-ability. Steiff-Schulte's fabrics with their 100% cotton woven backing will support the filling, whether using using hollofibre, kapok, woodwool, glass beads or other pellets or a combination of these.

Price of fabric

Affordability is another consideration when purchasing bear fabric. However, if you want your bear to look good for longer, last for future generations and become a family heirloom, then the use of Steiff-Schulte mohair is a given! Always buy the best you can afford as you put the same amount of time, effort and care into a bear, whether using mohair, a knit-back synthetic or any other fabric. You could pay the same price and have the option of either a smaller, quality mohair bear or larger knit-back synthetic bear. It's understandable that many novice bearmakers are nervous to start with a mohair bear due to concern for making a mistake, but it can be easier to work with a woven backing mohair than a knitted backing synthetic.

Enviro-friendly fabric

Who is the bear intended for? If a newborn or toddler, then ask yourself how 'green' or ecologically sound the fabric is. Steiff-Schulte's fabrics are environmentally friendly, using only safe products in the dying and finishing processes. This is especially important when making bears for young children where you don't want to expose them to any possible toxic dyes used to colour the fur.

Allergies to certain fabrics?

Could the recipient of your bear have an allergy to natural fibres such as mohair or alpaca? Then consider Steiff-Schulte's synthetic furs with woven backings and luxurious dense piles or even their 100% distressed cotton fabrics, rayons or viscoses.

The choice is yours!

Finally, it's a good idea to educate/familiarise yourself with the different types of manufacturers' fabrics, their piles and various textures available so you can make a wise choice. Look analytically at bears and get to know how the use of selected mohairs can enhance or detract from the pattern you have chosen to use.

Now go and have fun making a new bear!

Join Teddytech for Tea
and see the Challenge Results!

You're invited to join us for a fun morning as well as tea, treats and 'Specials' on:

Saturday morning, 27th October 2012 from 9am — 11.30am.

We're looking forward to seeing the creations of those bearmakers who took up the challenge at our last Tea Party to make a bear (or something similar) incorporating the tips gleaned from our talk on how to use wire/pipe cleaners for bendability/poseability in bears.

Bring along your bears for Show and Tell (the more the merrier!)

More Bearmaking Tips and Techniques

RSVP essential for catering purposes.
Tel. 031-3127755 or click here to email.
We look forward to having you join us!

Beary kind regards

Eunice & Di