Flame by April Dobson, April Bears
You will need
¼ metre of mohair
Five pairs of 25mm cotter pin joints
One pair of 7mm black glass eyes
Sewing thread to match mohair backing
Strong thread (ie bonded nylon thread) for seams, sewing on ears and eyes
Nose thread (ie brown no. 5 perle thread)
Contrasting paw material (wool felt, ultrasuede or suedette)
Step by step
1 Trace all the pattern pieces and transfer to thin card (an old cereal packet is ideal), remembering to mark the points indicated for the joints and seam openings. Identify the direction of the mohair pile and place the pattern pieces onto the material following the direction of the arrows. Draw round the pieces on the reverse side of the mohair using a pencil or marker pen, again remembering to mark the joint positions. Do the same for the foot and paw pads on the contrasting fabric. A 3mm (¼” ) seam allowance is included on all the pattern pieces.
2 Cut out the foot and paw pads, then the mohair bear pieces using sharp pointed scissors. Cut the backing only, not the pile. Once they have been cut out, trim away approximately 3mm (¼”) of mohair pile around the edges of each piece. This may seem a very slow procedure but it is worth it – it ensures that the minimum amount of fur gets trapped in the seams, allowing them to lay flat and neat once sewn and giving your bear a more professional finish.
3 With right sides together, stitch the head pieces from the tip of the nose to the neck (b to d). Pin the head gusset in place, matching points a, b and c, and sew into place. With right sides together, pin and stitch around the ears, leaving open where indicated. Attach the paw pad to the inner arm, matching e and f. With right sides together, pin and stitch together the outer and inner arms, leaving a gap where shown for jointing and stuffing.
4 With right sides together, pin and sew the leg pieces together, leaving a gap where shown for filling, and the feet open in order to attach the foot pads. Line up the centre front and back markings on the pads with the front and back leg seams and pin into place. Use lots of pins all the way round the foot pad . I find the easiest way to stitch them is to place the foot pad downwards (as though the bear is standing up) on the sewing machine plate and sew carefully into place. With right sides together, pin and sew the darts 1 to 2 at the top of the body, and 3 to 4 at the bottom. Pin and sew the body pieces together, leaving a gap at the back for jointing and stuffing. Leave the neck edge open.
5 Using polyester filler and a stuffing tool, stuff the head very firmly, filling the nose area first with small pieces and gradually adding large amounts until the head is hard. Assemble one half of the cotter pin joint and place in the neck with the pin sticking out. Sew a running stitch around the bottom edge of the neck using doubled strong thread. Pull up tightly to encompass the joint. Make several tight back stitches around the gathered area and tie off.
6 Using two glass-headed pins, experiment with different positions for the eyes. Once you have decided where you want them, make two holes with an awl and attach the eyes. Also, try pinning the ears on at a variety of angles until you get the right look for your bear. Once you are happy with them, attach to the head using the nylon bonded thread and ladder stitch. Work along the inside of the ears and then down the outside. Once in place, release and trapped fur with a comb.
7 Neaten up your bear's muzzle by trimming away the fur around the nose and mouth. Many different looks can be achieved by trimming either more or less hair away; go carefully and slowly so as not to cut off too much! Using the nose thread, mark out the position for the nose with a few horizontal and vertical stitches to give yourself a guide. Fill in the nose area, stitching from the top to the bottom, finishing with the mouth.
8 Sew a running stitch around the neck edge of the body, pull up tightly and fasten off. Make a small hole in the middle of the gathered area with the awl and pass the cotter pin from the head through the hole in the neck. Secure the joint from the inside of the body with long nose pliers. Make small holes on the points you marked on the inside of the legs and arms, and insert the cotter pin joints. Make four holes on the points you marked on the inside of the body and attach each arm and leg, securing from the inside of the body with your pliers.
9 Stuff the paws, feet and the tops of the limbs (the joint area) quite firmly with polyester filler. Fill out the rest of the limbs with plastic pellets. Place a small amount of polyester filler on top of the pellets where the seams have been left open, then using strong thread, ladder stitch the openings together and fasten off securely. Do this for all the limbs. Using polyester filler, stuff the bear's bottom and neck area firmly, then fill his tummy with pellets. Again, place a small amount of polyester filler on top of the pellets at the opening and ladder stitch closed.
PLEASE NOTE: April is currently unable to take orders privately, but a wide range of April Bears are available from The Bear Shop, 18 Elm Hill, Norwich, Norfolk, NR3 1HN, Tel: 01603 766 866, Web: www.bearshops.co.uk
The long tipped mohair used to make Flame is available from Oakley Fabrics, 8 May Street, Luton, Bedfordshire, LU1 3QY. Tel: 01582 424 828/734 733. Web: www.oakleyfabrics.co.uk