Kristofer by Trisha Balfour, Balfour Bears

This smart little bruin would look terrific in anyone's hug! Kristofer, created by Trisha Balfour measures 14cm (5.5”) high and is sewn from sparse short pile mohair for a shaggy yet neat appearance. The mohair on his face has been carefully plucked to accentuate his features and you can choose to give him either an embroidered nose or one that has been moulded from Fimo, as shown here. A simple accessory, such as a collar and tie finishes him beautifully.

Download: Pattern

You will need
23cm x 23cm (9” x 9”) toothy pile mohair
7.5cm x 7.5cm (3” x 3”) ultrasuede or felt for pads
PVA glue
Matching or invisible sewing thread
Black perle thread
2mm glass eyes
Two 10mm joints (for arms)
Three 12mm joints (for head and legs)
Wobble joint for the neck (optional)
Steel shot for weight (optional)
Fimo for nose (optional)

Gel ink pen or very fine marker pen
Pins with bead heads
Tweezers for plucking muzzle
Mohair comb
Sharp scissors
Sewing needle
Doll needle
Cotter key or needle nose pliers
Stuffing tool (I use tweezers)

Step by step

1 Transfer the pattern onto thin card and cut out, remembering to mark the joint points and fur direction arrows on the pieces. The seam allowance is 2mm and the lines drawn will be your cutting lines. Lay the pieces on the reverse side of your mohair and ultrasuede and carefully draw round them with your gel pen or fine marker, reversing the pieces as required. If your mohair is liable to fray, draw over the lines with a thin layer of PVA glue which will prevent fraying without staining your fabric. Once the glue has dried, cut out the pieces, remembering to only use the tips of your scissors so you will only cut the backing fabric and not the fur. Once you have cut out your pattern, mark the joint points with contrasting thread loops which will be pulled out during assembly.

2 Pluck the side head pieces and the head gusset prior to stitching as this will avoid unsightly fur sticking out of the seams in the muzzle area. You should decide before stitching how hairy your bear's face will be and work accordingly. With right sides together, sew the head pieces together using back stitch from A to B as marked on the pattern. Starting at A, stitch the head gusset to the head, easing together to match points C and D. Repeat along the other side of the head.

3 Turn the head right side out and stuff using very small pieces of fibrefill at a time. Ensure that the stuffing is pushed very firmly into the muzzle area. This will make stitching the nose easier for you. Using strong thread, secure a knot in the end of the thread. Starting at the back of the head, sew a line of small running stitch all the way round the neck opening, ending near to the point where you started. Leave the thread hanging for a moment. Assemble one of your 12mm cotter pin joints and insert the disc into the head with the prongs of the cotter pin sticking out of the bottom of the neck. Pull the gathering thread tightly to close the opening and finish off.

4 Push the thread into the head and out again a couple of times to anchor the thread. Always push the needle into the same spot it emerged from to avoid making dimples in the head. Pull on the thread and snip it off close to the fabric; the end of the thread will pull back into the head so as not to be seen. Check the seams and make sure that no fur has been trapped in them. Once you are happy with the seams, you can make your bear's face.

5 A good way to find the perfect placement for your bear's eyes is to use bead headed pins and situate these on the head until you are happy with the look. Next take a piece of strong thread and fold it half, using it doubled loop it into the wire on the back of the eye. Repeat for the other eye. Using your pliers, pinch the wires on the back of the eyes until they are pointed rather than looped. Using your long doll needle, thread the first eye onto it and insert the needle into the first bead head marker. Bring the needle out at the back of the head near to the neck joint in the middle of the head. Repeat this process for the second eye, bringing the needle out close to the threads for the first eye. Pull the threads for both eyes tightly to make eye sockets in the face and when you are happy with the look, tie the ends together and lose the threads inside the head by anchoring them as before.

6 Kristofer has a nose moulded from Fimo, but you can embroider his nose instead if you prefer. If you decide to use Fimo, mould the nose in your desired shape and harden, according to the instructions on the packet. When cool, attach the nose to the face using strong glue. If embroidering, you can place pins on your bear's face to get the corner points for the nose, or if you feel confident, you can draw the nose on with your marker pen, then stitch over the markings. When you have stitched or glued on the nose, you can stitch an inverted Y for the mouth.

7 Place two ear pieces right sides together and stitch round the curved edge, leaving the flat edge open for turning. When you have stitched all the way round the curve, turn the ear right side out and close the opening. Repeat this process for the second ear. When the ears are made, you should pin them onto the head to get the look you want. Once you are happy, stitch the ears to the head.

8 Take the two body pieces and place them right sides together. Stitch all the way round the edge from E to F, thus leaving a gap for turning right side out and stuffing. Take one of the paw pads and stitch to the inner arm. Next locate the outer arm to match this inner arm and stitch these right sides together, leaving a gap between G to H for turning and stuffing.

9 Take two leg pieces and sew from the heel of the foot up to I. Next start stitching at the toe and sew round the foot and leg to J, thereby leaving a gap for turning and stuffing. Then take one of the foot pads and fold it in half lengthways. Mark the middle of the foot pad at both ends with pins. This will help you to place the foot pad in its correct position. Next attach the foot pad to the foot with pins and stitch all the way round. Turn right side out. Repeat this for the other leg.

10 Push the cotter pin attached to the head into the body where marked. Next place the second disc onto the cotter pin inside the body and pull the legs of the pin apart slightly. Bend the legs in opposite directions so that they push back on to the disc tightly. You can either use a cotter key or needle nose pliers for this job.

11 Insert a 10mm cotter pin joint into the first arm and stuff the arm with fibrefill. If you prefer your bear to have some weight, you can add a little steel shot if you wish. When the arm is stuffed, close the opening with ladder stitch and finish off the thread. Insert the cotter pin legs into the body at the position marked with thread. Place the second disc onto the cotter pin legs and tighten as before. Remember to snip the thread marker and remove it once the limb is inserted. Repeat for the other arm.

12 Insert a 12mm cotter pin joint into the first leg and stuff with fibrefill and a little steel shot if you wish. Close the opening with ladder stitch and finish off the thread. Next stuff the body with fibrefill or a mix of fibrefill and steel shot, and close up the opening. Give your bear a little brush with your mohair brush or comb. You can accessorise your bear if you wish; Kristofer has a little collar and tie, but these are optional.

Collectors' Notes
For more details about Balfour Bears, write to Trisha Balfour, 96 Dunholm Road, Dundee, DD2 4RW, UK. Tel: +44 (0)1382 624 605. Email: Web: