Get the pattern here. See the video here. This pattern can be a bit tricky for beginners, but give it a try! For another idea to preserve sentimental garments, see this project.
For this tutorial, I used the sleeves from one long-sleeve dress shirt, size XL. Other ideas would be jackets, pants, fabric scraps and baby blankets. The pattern can be adjusted for size to accommodate the garment you intend to use.
Print the pattern:
Download and print the pattern. For measurements in the chart, print to actual size. For instructions to do this, see this. Cut along the solid black lines and tape together the body pieces at the shaded areas.
Arms and Legs:
Begin by sewing around the arm, leaving the top open for turning. Slash the curves, but not too close! The seam allowance you use is up to you (I used 5/8″ for this bear). As long as you consistently use the same seam allowance for the entire bear, the pattern will work. Don’t be fussy about it. This is supposed to be fun, not complicated. Do what feels comfortable for you.
Turn the arms right side out and stuff them. For a weighted bear, see this video for instructions.
Sew the sides of the legs, leaving the top and bottom open. Slash the curves.
Sew the foot soles onto the legs. The notches on the sole should align with the seams on the legs. They may not be exact, but don’t worry. Ease them in as well as they will fit. This may be a bit tricky. My best advice is to not pin it, but guide through the machine with the leg on top and the sole on the machine as you sew for the best fit. Do whatever feels most comfortable to you.
Stuff the leg. For instructions to weight the legs, see the video previously suggested.
Sew two ears together along the curved edge. Slash the curves of the ear and turn right side out. Press well and set aside.
Start the front by sewing the darts. Fold the head over, matching the edges of the dart, and sew an angle to create the head dart. Use the same seam allowance as you have used so far.
Baste on the ears. I centered the ears over the darts, but the placement is a personal choice which will add character to your bear. Use your imagination for this one!
Place the fronts together, right sides facing, and sew the side with the notches.
For this tutorial, I used commercial shank eyes and nose. Alternatively, you could use the buttons from the shirt (or other buttons), or glue/sew on felt eyes and nose. This bear still looks good (and would be baby friendly) without features at all. Make it your own by using your imagination!
Start by sewing the butt darts. Fold the bottom up so that the edges of the dart match and sew an angle with the same seam allowance you have used so far.
Place the back pieces on top of one another, right sides facing, and sew as directed in the picture below. In the video, I forgot to leave a space… don’t do that!
Sew the Body Together:
Open the back of the bear. Please the open front on top of the back with right sides facing. Sew the side seams from armpit to bottom. Slash the curves.
Attaching the Limbs:
Place the bear face down. Insert the legs into the body with toes down (toes should touch the face). With the legs inserted, pin the seams of the crotch first. Pin the legs into place by starting at the side seam. The legs should be touching the side seams. This will create a space between the legs at the crotch. Sew the bottom seam as shown in the picture below.
Sew the shoulders and an inch or two of the side head.
With the bear facing up, insert the arms into the armholes one at a time. The arm should be curving upward toward the face. Sew into place using a deeper seam allowance for best results.
Sew the top of the head closed and turn the bear right side out.
Stuff the bear:
For this tutorial, I used the stuffing from an old throw pillow. Store bought stuffing can be expensive; a throw pillow from the thrift store can be a good alternative. Just take it to the laundromat and wash and dry on hot. Open it up and use to stuff! It may matt together a little, just tear it apart first. To weight the bear body, insert a weighted pouch into the head and bottom area with the stuffing. Hand sew the opening to finish.
That’s it! Other suggestions: When stuffing the bear, keep in mind that rice can be warmed in the microwave creating a therapeutic use for your bear (just make sure the other stuffing materials you use do not melt in the microwave). In addition, dried aromatic herbs can be added to the stuffing and/or rice for aromatherapy.
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