22 November 2011

35 by 35 sewing challenge, and a teddy bear

I asked a dressmaker whether I should take a course in pattern drafting. "No," she said, "just sew 35 garments from patterns, and then you'll know how patterns work."
My goal is [to save the world! and in my spare time] to sew 35 garments by the time I turn 35 - at which point the Babyloops will be old enough to care about how she looks, and it will be a real advantage not to be dependent on the fashion industry, with its "one-yard wonders": we are a yardage-loving people.
Personally, I am one of those anachronistic wish-I-could-wear-hoopskirts-to-work people. (No, no, that's not an orthodox thing...!)

I'm defining "garment" loosely. Here is project No. 3 out of 35:

He is a wedding present for the new wife of our neighborhood greengrocer - hence the garlic print.
I used Simplicity pattern 5461, and hand-stitched most of him on buses and in waiting rooms. (Somehow I'm convinced it's a him.)
This pattern results in a fairly intelligent- and friendly-looking bear.


  1. It's a great project, however ambitious! I had very big sewing ambitions, but quickly discovered that I can't make clothes as well or inexpensively myself. I couldn't even buy fabric as cheaply as ready-made clothing (which we buy secondhand). Very discouraging...

    1. Thanks! Yes, sewing your own clothes is not the quickest route to anywhere... but my mother sews, so it's embedded in my psyche that this is one of those Skills All Mothers Have.

  2. I'm currently using this pattern to sew memory bears as my father has recently passed. I CANNOT for the life of me figure out how to put the head together in this pattern!Do you have any tips? Any and all would be greatly appreciated!

    1. What is a 'memory bear'? That sounds like a lovely idea.

      I don't have the pattern in front of me at the moment, but the first step is to sew the ears together, stuff them, and sew them shut along the bottom. The pieces of the head to which the ears will be attached have markings on them that mean "Put an ear between these dots."

      Ears aside, there are, as I recall, five pieces to the head. The bear has a seam straight down the back of its head, between the two halves of its head back - each of which is called a "Head Back". Each "Head Back" is also attached to a "Head Side"; these "Head Sides" form most of the face. The small symmetrical piece, "Head Front" (I might have its name wrong), is a strip running down the middle of the forehead, and then between the eyes, ending at the nose. You can see the seam lines along the edges of this piece in the picture above if you click on it. The broad end of the "Head Front" is attached to the Head Back(s) -- you'll have sewn the two halves of the back of the head together before you attach the Head Front to them. The long sides are attached to the Head Sides (eventually you'll put the eyes about halfway down these side seams); and the narrow end of the "Head Front" forms the top of the nose.

      The two "Head Sides" attach to the "Head Back"s in back and the "Head Front" on the upper sides of the face, and come together in front with a seam that's a straight line down from the nose. So there is no blunt "nose" area -- only the junction of the narrow end of the "Head Front" and the seam between the "Head Sides". Eventually, after the head is attached to the body, you will take this junction, glue a nose-shaped piece of felt on it (I'm beginning to wonder whether the glue is really necessary - couldn't the felt just be sewn down?), and embroider over the felt.

      There is no neck, per se; the head is a vase, and you attach the opening in the head-vase to the opening in the vase that is the body.

      The instructions in this pattern are reliable. They will tell you the order in which to do all this, and which parts must be done with the pieces inside-out ("right sides together").

      One thing I learned while making this bear is that when the instructions say to stuff it firmly, that means you really have to cram in the stuffing. I thought I stuffed firmly, but you can see in the picture that the bear is a little wrinkled here and there, especially about the jaw: that's because I didn't stuff in enough.

      I hope this helps; let me know if it's not clear. Good luck with your bears.

      And, condolences on the passing of your father.