Thursday, July 26, 2012

How to Crochet Dungarees for a Teddy Bear - Free Tutorial

Teddy bears are much like humans—they come in every size and shape.  Add to that the many varieties of yarn and crochet hooks to choose from, and making a standard pattern seems impossible.  In addition to that I’m a lazy crotchetier who doesn’t like to count stitches and rows.  So, in this tutorial I’m not giving you a pattern, but the work method to crochet dungarees for any teddy bear or doll, with any type of yarn.  We will make it fit as we go along.
Basic knowledge of crochet is necessary if you want to attempt this project.  If you need to sharpen up on your skills, HERE is a helpful website. 
You will need:  Yarn or thread of your choice, a crochet hook, big eye needle to sew thread ends away, and one willing teddy bear or doll to be the model.  Also have some stitch markers handy.  If you don’t have stitch markers, paperclips or safety pins work well.
Start by making a chain row to fit around teddy’s waist.  It should be loose enough to pull down over his hips.  
Join in the first chain stitch to make a circle.  Mark your first stitch with a stitch marker.
Work a few rounds of single crochet, until you get to the top of the bear’s hips.
Divide your work into six equal parts, and mark the stitches with stitch markers.  If you are making dungarees for a large bear, you might like to use more markers. We need the dungarees to start flaring out, so that they will fit over the bear’s ample stomach and generous hips.   In the next few rounds, increase a stitch every time you get to a stitch marker.
The dungarees are coming along nicely.  Make sure you have a nice loose fit at this stage.
Continue in the same manner with more rows until the dungarees start looking like a skirt.
When you can pinch the ‘skirt’ together between the bear’s legs, it is long enough.  Sew together a few stitches to form the gusset of the dungarees.  Not too many, the leg holes should be nice and roomy.
Work single crochet around each leg hole to make the legs of the dungaree.  Here it is a good idea to count the number of rows you work, the second leg should have the same length :-)
Fit the dungarees on the bear to check the length as you work.  I made my trouser legs extra long and crocheted a few rows of post stitch ribbing on the end of each trouser leg so that I could make a turn-up. 
This is what the bear looks like when dressed in the bottom half of the dungarees.
Here are the dungarees, with the cuff at the bottom turned up.
To make the bib, put the dungarees on the teddy bear, and mark with two stitch markers where the bib should start and end. 
Work rows in single crochet until the bib is long enough.  The bib can be square.  My bear has a very small chest and narrow shoulders.  On the dungarees I started with enough stitches to make the bib as wide as the bear’s armholes.  As I worked rows to the top, I decreased a stitch at the beginning of every row, so that the bib became narrower to fit between the shoulders.
This is what the bib looks like when finished.
And this is the ideal fit on the bear.
With the dungarees on the bear, mark the placing of the braces with two stitch markers at the back.  I put mine in line with the armholes of the bear.
Crochet the first strap.   Make a chain that is the right length, counting your stitches so that you can make the second one the same length.  Then work rows of single crochet,   I made mine extra long so that I can cross them over on the back of the bear.  Make a buttonhole on the end of the strap if you want one.  The braces can also be fastened with a press stud.
Repeat for the second brace.
Attach two small buttons on the bib, and viola, the dungarees are finished! 
The model for this tutorial is Schnozzel.  You will find more information about him HERE.  The pattern for the teddy bear is also for sale in my Etsy shop.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cloth over clay doll - progress

Over the weekend I spent a bit of time with Viola Ruth.
The next stage with this doll is to get the clay face covered with cloth. Needed: one doll, white glue, stretch fabric, and a stiff dry brush.  The instructions said nothing about ten sticky fingers and hours of patience...
Ah, gooey facial. 
After liberally applying glue, I used a wet finger to smooth the glue evenly over the face before applying the fabric.
This should be called the Pharaoh stage.  It took a lot of patience to smooth the fabric over the face without getting any bubbles or wrinkles. 
In the final stages of covering the head, the excess fabric needs to be cut off and seams hidden in the hairline.  I'm very proud of my efforts here!
Viola Ruth is drying in the weak winter afternoon sun.  She and Colani would both like to know what I am doing inside all on my own...

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Lazy weekend

Yep, this is one of those rare weekends when there are no classes at Tin Soldiers.  No nasty mice to chase either. I don't intend being idle though.  I've been awake for hours waiting for the sun to rise so I can get into the garden, then I'm going to paint a doll or two, and in the afternoon you will find me at my clay table.  And if I have an ounce of energy left, I will crochet a few stitches before bedtime.  That's the plan anyway... sounds great, doesn't it?
For all cat lovers, here's a blog you simply have to visit.  ZsaZsaBellagio
Wishing you a relaxed weekend!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bearathon 2012

Today I had a little photo shoot with our Bearathon bears.  About a hundred bears have arrived so far.
It is a sad fact that thousands of children are victims of abuse and neglect in our society. Through Bearathon we endeavour to place a teddy bear in the arms of children who need comfort; be it at a police station, when admitted to hospital, or during treatment and counselling.
If you would like to contribute a teddy bear, you will find all the information about Bearathon HERE

Final date for handing in bears for this year's Bearathon is 18 August.  If you missed it, start making a bear for next year's Bearathon now!  You will find a FREE PATTERN for a knitted bear, and a simple sewn teddy bear on the Bearathon Page of our website.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Miniatures Spectacular

I used the cold spell over the weekend as an excuse to burrow deep into my workroom and keep my mind on small things. 
This year I will be offering canned food, fresh vegetables and a stunning new range of crockery on my sales table at Parkhurst.  All in 1/12 scale, made by me! 
There are only six weeks to go until our annual Miniatures Spectacular event at Parkhurst.  This year will be our 20th anniversary!  If you live close enough to attend, I do hope that you will join us for this magical event.

Snow on Friday the 13th!

My friend Liz who lives in Victoria West sent these pictures.  Liz is a third generation doll maker and restorer.  She has been working with dolls all her life.  These days she is semi-retired, but still loves to show her work and pass on her knowledge, and she runs a B&B with her lovely husband, Pat.  Victoria West is a tiny town situated in a semi-arid part of South Africa.  Annual rain fall is very low, and it becomes intolerably hot in summer.  In winter, it becomes very cold, with night time temperatures usually well below freezing.  Snow is a very rare occurence though, and a good snow fall like this might happen only once or twice in a lifetime.
This is Liz' front garden covered in snow in Victoria West.  In the background you can see the guard rail of the road that leads to Kimberley.  

View over the garden from the front porch.   Difficult to imagine that I was sitting at that table when temperatures were over 40 degrees Centigrade one December!  This stoep is where I took my first baby steps constructing a cloth body for an antique porcelain doll with Liz guiding every stitch.  The story of our unlikely meeting is like a fairy tale.  I believe that it was fated that Liz should come across my path to lead me to doll making.  Some people are angels in this life.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

New patterns by Nerina - Cloth Characters

Here are some new patterns from Nerina at Cloth Characters.  You can see all of Nerina's designs HERE.

Rose is a simple 25 cm cloth doll with knitting wool hair and painted facial detail.  She is made from calico, and the clothes from cotton print fabric and felt.  Included in the pattern is instructions for her clothing, and a cute pair of felt shoes to make.  You will also learn how to paint the eyes using a combination of fabric paint and watercolour pencils, and to embroider the nose and mouth.  This is a good pattern for beginner doll makers, and for experienced doll makers who want a quick and simple doll for gifts or bazaar selling.

Lucinda the Witch and  Cosmic the Cat. 
Lucinda is a 50cm calico doll with wool for hair.  Facial details are added with fabric paint, and she has an impressive nose, just the thing for adventurous doll makers.  Included in the pattern is instructions to make the dress, panties and hat.  The shoes are part of the doll design, details are added with black fabric paint and beads.
Cosmic the Cat is 25cm tall, and made from felt.  Paint or sew on facial details and additional fur markings. 

Squark the Bird and Cosmic the Cat.
Already have a witch, but need a familiar?  Squark is a 25cm bird made from a combination of felt, wire and polymer clay (optional). 
Cosmic is a 25cm cat.  Make him from felt, then add details with paint and embroidery thread, or use plastic eyes.

Monsters.  This is a fun pattern to make 5 quick and different felt toys.  The monsters are sewn on the right side, no turning out small pieces, and easy enough for children to do.  Copy Nerina's pattern templates, or use the instructions to design your own monsters.  You will need only oddments of felt,  and if you happen to have embellishments such as plastic eyes, buttons and sequins available, you can make something really scary and glam in a jiffy.

If you would like to order these patterns, EMAIL MEGAN

Studio Update

I have been sorting through some boxes of 'stuff' in my store room, and came upon this miniature painting.  It measures only 5 x 6cm, and was made by my cousin Marjorie from a photograph. My mother commisioned it for my birthday a number of years ago (I'm not telling how many!) and as you might guess, the subject is me, with an old bear in my lap. Eventually it will be displayed in the library of a 1/12 scale dolls house that I am restoring.

I'm catching my breath after two weeks of  daily teddy bear making workshops at Tin Soldiers.  Sharing knowledge and teaching techniques to bear makers is one of my great joys.  After doing it for so many years I have also learned the importance of creating time for quiet in between,  to write, work on new designs, to savour creative life in its many forms.  I am truly blessed.
So,  let me tell you what is in store for the next few days.
A post about new patterns from Nerina.
The teddy bear crochet dungarees instructions that I promised.
Schnozzle's pattern, and Sabine the pin cushion elf, as soon as I finish the instructions.
An update on Bearathon 2012 progress.
Whatever else I manage to get done.  My to-do list grows daily!