Friday, April 25, 2014

Project 52 - Miniature Bear Making - #8

Don't Forget the Magic Tab

In a previous post I showed you some teddy bear legs that were badly frayed in the opening. 
With miniature bears this is often a problem.  Sometimes it happens because you are working with fabric that frays a lot.  Sometimes it happens because the openings are so tiny and you really battle to get the limbs turned.  And sometimes it happens because the fool holding the hemostat isn't careful enough.  That's not us, right? ;-)
One way of avoiding the problem would be to use fray stop.  I don't like to use fray stop though.  It makes the fabric difficult to sew through and with miniature bears it can easily bleed into an area where you don't want it.
Here's my secret solution to perfect openings every time: THE MAGIC TAB. 
It's a small piece of fabric that you add on to the pattern pieces in the 'leave open' areas before you cut out the bear.  If I did it on paper, it would look like this.
In practise, I don't worry about the magic tab on my templates.  When I'm tracing pieces on to the fabric, I add it freehand to the pattern pieces just before I cut them out.  Remember to leave enough space between the templates as you are marking out.
You need a magic tab on both sides of the opening in the limb. 
Now cut out and sew your teddy bear pieces as usual.  The magic tab does not get in the way. (I want to add a word of warning here.  You should use a light coloured pen when tracing on to light coloured fabric.  I'm using a black pen so that you can see in the photos what I'm doing.  Chances are that the markings will show through the seams and spoil the bear when I stuff the limbs).
When you turn and stuff the limbs, there is a handy flap of fabric to hold on to.  If it frays a little, it won't matter.  Hey, it's extra, and we will make it disappear by magic!
Once you have stuffed the limb fold the magic tabs under and Voila!, you have neat edges for ladder stitching.
See what a difference the magic tab made to the openings on this bear?  Closing the arm openings will be really easy compared to darning together the mess I made of the legs.

Here's my book page for Lesson 8.
I hope that you are keeping your notes up to date, and that you have learned something worthwhile so far.  It's been a bit quiet in the studio over the Easter period, I'm sure next week someone will send photos of their project, hint, hint!  Remember that you can also ask a question.  If you would like me to address a certain aspect of miniature bear making, drop me a line.

In this miniature bear making series, we are using the Angus pattern, which you will find in my Etsy Shop, and on the Tin Soldiers Website.
Some of us are making a book or a set of note cards with techniques for miniature bear making.  I have made page templates if you would like to copy mine, but it could also be fun to make your own.  Every week, you will find printable templates for Project 52 HERE .

Domestic conditions are challenging my sanity at the moment.  I have set up a workworkstation in the kitchen so that I can keep an eye on everything at once.
While chaos reigns,  a number of small projects are being completed.
Micro mouse teapots.  
And micro clay babies.

When they are completely finished, I will post pictures. 

In the meantime I have finished lesson 8 for Project 52.    I am posting it in a few minutes.
Do send me a picture of your miniature bear project.  Seeing what other people are making is inspiring.

Yippee!  Another long weekend!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Project 52 - Miniature Bear Making - #7

Easter Bunnies!

Hold up a fabric animal and ask a five year old what it is.  If the answer is BUNNY! then you can be fairly sure  your animal has long years.  Yep, the shape of an animal's ears is one of its most distinguishing features. 
Bunnies also differ from teddy bears in other small ways.  Modern teddies mostly don't have tails.  A round little button tail on a bunny is almost a must.  Bunnies usually have big feet, and a nice fat tummy to go with it.

I turned Angus' pattern into Apryl the Easter Bunny by making just a few changes to the pattern. 
  • The ears are longer.  If you are altering your own pattern, start by making the ears about three times the height of the teddy bear's ears.  Remember there is no rule.  Bunny ears can be long or short, whatever!
  • The ears can be stiffened with a chenile stick or florist wire if you want them to stand up.
  • For Apryl, I used a 17mm circle as template for the tail.  Gather the circle around the edges, stuff lightly, and ladder stitch to the body.  This must be the easiest way ever to make a tail.
  • I like my bunnies to have short noses.  If you alter the side head, you also need to alter the gusset to make sure they fit together.
  • Bunnies must have big feet!  I made Apryl's feet almost half as long again as Angus'.  Remember to make the footpad bigger too.
  • Just for fun, I made Apryl a fat tummy.  It's probably from eating so many Easter eggs... 
  • If you don't enjoy embroidering noses, a bunny will suit your style.  Notice how I made only an outline for Apryl's nose?  When making a bunny, this is good enough.  But of course, if you prefer to embroider the nose, Apryl would look good with that too.
Here's an exploded view of Apryl, with my altered pattern sheet.  If you don't feel adventurous enough to alter Angus' pattern yourself, you will find my altered templates HERE.
In order to have all the pattern pieces to complete Apryl, you will also need the Angus pattern, which you will find in my Etsy Shop, and on the Tin Soldiers Website.

Apryl wants to share a blue speckled egg but Angus says "No, find your own!"  
This is my book page for Week 7.  
I made a little envelope to store my altered pattern templates in.
I have made page templates if you would like to copy mine, but it could also be fun to make your own.  Every week, you will find printable templates for Project 52 HERE .

Thursday, April 17, 2014

I'm late, I'm late!

Not Alice's White Rabbit speaking though.  It's Apryl, our Easter Bunny.  I will be posting the next installment of Project 52 tomorrow.

Here's a glimpse at living with men:
Man of the house plans a road trip.
Four weeks before departure he disassembles the car sound system and gives it a complete overhaul.  Selects his favourite 50 CDs to take along.  Can't go on an adventure without the right music.
Two weeks before departure he installs new silver car seat covers and uses a small brush to eradicate dust motes from the car's air vents. Can't travel in a dirty car.
Two hours before departure:  Have you seen my wheelie suitcase?  I can't find my windbreaker! Found both for him at the bottom of the wardrobe, jacket moldy from being thrown in there damp after last trip. 
Twenty minutes before departure: Can you shorten these trousers for me?  Have you seen my car keys?
Yes, I can shorten the trousers, and yes, the car keys are in the pocket of the other trousers which are now on the floor.  And yes, I am packing him some bottled water and snacks in case he gets lost in the wilderness.  At least he will be enjoying his sandwiches in a clean car with good music.
I am fond of him, strange as he is.

Weather has been cool/cold today.  The dogs offered to come inside to help me stay warm.
 If you park them in a line, six Great Danes don't take up much space...

Wishing you a relaxed and creative Easter weekend!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Happy Monday, Everyone

I'm sure you know that this is a short week.  Easter Holidays coming up!

After feeling grumpy all of last week, the weekend lightened up my mood.
In no small part because a delightful lucky packet arrived from  Marijke Haerkens of Button Bears.  THANK YOU VERY MUCH, Marijke, I feel showered with good wishes.  Sometimes a nice thing happens at just the right moment.

Over the weekend I've been working on some stuff too boring to mention, and I finished Mud Man's face.  I even gave him ears.
I'm pleased with the way he turned out.  As a novice sculptor, every face that I make that turns out even vaguely human is a surprise to me.

In Project 52 this week, you can look forward to Angus the Easter Bunny.  And posts about other stuff as time allows. 

Wishing you a creative week.  Don't forget to eat lots of chocolate eggs.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Project 52 - Miniature Bear Making - #6

Make Spectacles

To make spectacles for Angus you will need only a few things.  Most of them you probably already have.
Wire:  any wire that will bend easily, but hold its shape.  I use brass wire from a beading shop, sometimes wire from the hardware store, and often wire from the florist.  One can get paper coated wire from some florists.  This is great, because it can be painted any colour you like. And how about raiding the stationery cupboard?  All those lovely coloured paper clips...
Shaping tool:  I use a pair of chain nose (round nose) pliers.  You can get that from a beading shop or hardware store.  If you don't have chain nose pliers, a wooden skewer, dowel or knitting needle with the right diameter will also work. 
You will also need a pair of needle nose pliers and a wire cutter.
Let's get to work.
Cut a generous length of wire and fold it in half.  Don't make the top of the bend too sharp, it should look like a hairpin.  You can cut several lengths of wire and keep them handy, in case you need to practise a bit to get it right :-)
Fold one side of the wire around the shaping tool to make a half circle.  Hold the shaping tool against the outside of the top of your 'hairpin', and bend the wire up 180 degrees away from the hairpin.
Do the same with the other leg of the hairpin.  Check that the curve on both sides are the same size.  Now you have the bottom  half moons for your spectacles. 
Hold the spectacles up to your teddy bear's face and make sure that he can see you through both lenses. Adjust as necessary.
A little bit too small?
This one is big.  Not completely wrong though, it will give Angus a bookish look.
Perfect fit!
Take up your shaping tool again and complete the circles.  
The wire should now hang down on the inside of the hairpin.  
We are not finished yet.  Still holding your shaping tool inside the circle, take the wire around another half turn, so that it is on the outside of the circle, and facing straight up.
When you have completed one side, do the other side. 
Use the needle nose pliers to bend the ears of the spectacles 90 degrees away from the lenses.
Voila!  Spectacles custom made for your teddy.
For my small bears, I snip the ears of the spectacles to length, just behind the bear's ears. 
Make a hole with a big darning needle at the top corner of each ear, into the head.  Slip the ends of the spectacles into the holes, press them down firmly on the bear's nose, and you are done.
If the spectacles are the right size, and fitted properly, Angus will be able to look at you through both lenses of the spectacles.
Here's a summary of the steps.
This is my book page for lesson 6.

In this miniature bear making series, we are using the Angus pattern, which you will find in my Etsy Shop, and on the Tin Soldiers Website.
I have made page templates if you would like to copy mine, but it could also be fun to make your own.  Every week, you will find printable templates for Project 52 HERE .
Want to make miniature reading material for your teddy bear?  On my Pinterest page you will find links to miniature books and newspapers to print, covering a wide variety of topics. 

Gerda and Lana have a regular date to make teddies.  They are working on their Project 52 books together.  This is what it looks like so far, exciting!  I love the idea of using nose shapes as a 'window' to write in.  You ladies are so creative.

Angus has been reading a story book all day while I slogged away at my computer and packed mail orders.  In a few minutes I'm going to post Prjoject 52 lesson 6.  It's an extra long one, with lots of pictures.  I hope that you will enjoy it.  Next lesson, Angus as an Easter bunny!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Ah, wicked!

Have a teddy bear you don't get along with?  In this Youtube video Geoffrey Ricardo shows you how to turn it into a work of art.

If I had one of those rollers, I could use it on some people I know...

You guessed it.  Today was not a good one. 

I put a batch of stuff that I was working on into the clay oven, turned my back for a minute and it was burned to a crisp.  Hours of work gone up in smoke.  I had to take a long walk with the dogs while I waited for the smog to clear.  The thermostat is definitely faulty.  

Exploded babies, blistered eyebals... singed toenails. More like a witch's cauldron than anything else around here.

Free Magazine

The second issue of Creative Miniaturist is available to read for free.
Even if you are not a dolls house maker, the articles are inspirational, and many of the projects are suitable as accessories for your tiny bears.  Maybe you need to make something for Angus, nudge, nudge...