I thought it was worth taking a week out to look at all the materials and tools I use when I’m making a bear, some of which you probably expect, and one or two of which might surprise you!

Firstly, the materials: 

1. Mohair – the main fabric used for the bear (note that for regular sized bears you can also use faux fur, viscose or recycled fur, but make sure with both of these that they are not cheap version, and that they will stand up to years of hugs!  For minis there are a number of short pile options)
2. Ultrasuede – used for paw pads (note that you can also use suede, leather, wool felt, cotton and more)
3. Stuffing – I use bouncifil stuffing, which I have an entire bale of in my hallway.  I kind of feel like it’s the elephant in the room when my flatmate has friends to visit, but I enjoy perplexing them ;o)
4. Eyes – I use mainly glass eyes with wire loops on the back, although I have used boot buttons on a couple of occasions
5. Joints – Depending on the style of bear and the size, I use cotter pin or nut and bolt joints, and sometimes a combination of the two.  You can buy packs of 5 joints suitable to make a single bear, but I buy the disks, nuts and bolts separately by the 100!  Cotter pin discs have small holes for the pins to pass through, while nut and bolt discs have wider openings to allow the bolt to pass through, but both types are usually made of a compressed wood.  The nuts are usually lock nuts, with the exception of the ones used for the head joint
6. Sticky back felt – I use this to create the base of my noses
7. Perle cotton – I use this both on my noses and on my feet for the pulled toes
8. Glass sand and steel shot – I use this to add weight to my bears both to help them stand, and to give that heavier feeling that traditional bears have over their modern plush counterparts
9. Pop socks – yep, I really did mean pop socks!  I use these in a couple of places – firstly to hold any glass sand or steel shot that I’m using for weighting, as the mesh is too fine to allow them to seep through, and secondly to pop my growlers into so that none of the stuffing gets into the workings
10. A growler – I don’t always use these, but they come in a variety of sizes to fit different bears.  They come in both cardboard and plastic, however I only have the cardboard ones on hand (and fear not, this huge one isn’t for TBB II, his is in the post ;o) )

Secondly, the pattern drafting and transfer tools that we’ve already seen in use: 

1. Pencil and rubber – invaluable for sketching the pattern
2. Paper to draw the pattern onto – I also have A3 sheets for the big bears
3. Flexible curve – used to measure foot pads and head gussets to ensure they will fit the other pattern pieces they are set into
4. Template plastic – used to transfer the pattern to the fabric
5. Sharpie – used to draw the pattern onto the template plastic
6. Scissors – used to cut out the template plastic
7. Gel pen – used to draw round the template plastic onto the fabric
8. Fray Check – used to reinforce the fabric at the openings where the pieces will be turned through

Thirdly, the cutting and sewing tools:

1. Small, sharp pointed, small bladed scissors – used to cut out the fabric pieces, trim back seam allowances, and clip curves
2. Regular standard needles – used for tacking and for the hand sewing portions of the assembly
3. Bright contrast thread – used for tacking and basting as it’s easy to see to remove
4. Thread to match the mohair – used with the sewing machine and hand stitching portions
5. Seam ripper – used to ease fur from seams
6. Pins – used to hold pieces together when sewing
7. Sewing machine (not pictured) – used to sew large pieces together

Fourthly, the stuffing, finishing and jointing tools: 

1. Fine embroidery scissors – used for scissor sculpting
2. Chopstick – used for stuffing small places
3. Stuffing stick – used for stuffing larger places
4. Locking forceps – used for pulling through little pieces, and occasionally stuffing
5. Bradawl – used to make holes for the joints
6. Doll needles – used for needle sculpting, pulled toes, eyes and ears
7. Topstitching thread – used for needle sculpting
8. Linen thread – used for eyes
9. Adjustable spanner – used for nut and bolt joints
10. Socket set – used for nut and bolt joints
11. Super glue – used to stick the head joint bolt in
12. Needle-nosed pliers – used for cotter pin joints and for eyes
13. T-pins – used to mark out ears and toes
14. Pearl-headed pins – used to mark out toes
15. Position eyes – used to test out eye placement
16. Pet brush – used to fluff up the seams
17. Measuring tape (not picture) – used to measure joint position

Finally, the decorating tools:

1. Copic markers and blender – used to shade the bear
2. Hair dryer – used to set the shading and fluff up the bear
3. Ribbons – used as the finishing touch

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