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 .


  1. Clever lady. Thank you for this one. I will certainly be using it.

    1. Glad that you are able to use this tip, Linda. It does make a huge difference.

  2. I so enjoy your tutorials. This one is definitely one I'll be using.

    1. Thanks, Corinne! I do so enjoy compiling these tutorials. It is amazing how much we learn and forget over time. I'm 'rediscovering' some techniques as I hunt for things to write about.

  3. Awesome tip, that is the problem I had, ravel, ravel, ravel, mad mad mad. Thank you Megan. Soooooo much.