Saturday, May 17, 2014

Project 52 - Miniature Bear Making - #11

Closing neck openings with a fabric circle

Before I designed my own patterns, I made scores of bears from patterns that I found in books and magazines, and patterns and kits that I bought.  One of the things that I often found frustrating was trying to close the neck opening neatly.  It took me a while to figure out that some designers did not leave enough fabric at the base of the neck that one can gather it closed after inserting the neck disc.  Sometimes the neck openings were so huge and gaping around the disc that gathering up all the fabric left lots of unsightly puckers.
Now that I'm designing my own patterns, I always make sure that there is enough fabric in  the neck to close over the disc, and I make the neck opening small enough that the disc will fit snugly, eliminating the need to gather too much fabric.
I don't really like to improve other designers' patterns, also called messing with, I guess everyone has their reason for doing things they way they do :-)   But sometimes a bear is so cute that you just have to try the pattern, even if you can see that there are pitfalls.
Angus doesn't need it, but I'm using his pattern to show you how to eliminate the gaping neck problem.
A neat way to close the neck is to add a circle of fabric over the opening.  You will need to create your own template for this.  Check to see how big the disc is that you will insert in the neck.   Place it on the teddy bear fabric.  Draw a line around, then add a seam allowance and mark the centre of the circle with a dot.  Cut out the circle with the rest of the teddy bear pieces. 
Sew the head as usual.
Before you turn the head right side out, sew the fabric circle into the neck opening half way around.
 Now turn the head right side out and stuff it.
When you are ready to insert the neck joint, use an awl to make a hole in the centre of the fabric circle.
Insert the joint through the hole.
Close the last little bit of the opening with ladder stitch.  We discussed ladder stitch in Lesson 9.  Here's an opportunity to practise ;-)
Neck opening closed over the disc.  How neat is that?
This way of closing a neck opening can also be very useful when making wobble neck joints.  More of the neck area is visible when the head is wobble jointed because the neck can swivel.   Let's talk about wobble joints next week!

My book page for Lesson 10.

A close up view of Gerda's book cover and inside pages.  I love the little polymer clay bear!  The inside pages are covered with hand made paper containing botanicals.

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. This is such a brilliant tip!! So neat. Wow.
    I continue to be blown away each week.
    Thank you Megan.

  2. Hi Megan. My name is Donna, I discovered your site today purely by coincidence! I was attempting to find a pattern for Polar bears and a piece you designed stopped me in my tracks, cold! When this happens to me, it means to me that the piece is one awesome piece! I had to know who in the world created something so awesome from their imagination, and the answer led me to your site. I am really sorry to see that you have not been feeling yourself, and when I saw that you were on hiatus I decided to write to you. I see that you have been doing some things with your craft, and your good friend has been giving you talks about keeping up with your talents and I could not agree more. I myself craft, and developed carpal tunnel in both hands as well as deteriorating disc disease in both my neck and back so I can understand that when one is hindered by what they love doing how it breaks their spirit and routine. If I had half the talent you have right now my dreams as a crafter would be complete! Do not give up nor stop until its really over, and from what I can see you are just rerouted on another level. This only ascertains just how really strong and amazingly talented you are. Keep going girl as you are the reasons that the pages others dreams of creativity come to life. On days when that depressive state sets in remember that.

    1. Donna, thank you very much for liking my polar bear, and for your kind words! The last few months have been a challenge for me, I've never had my world shaken up so thoroughly before. The support and encouragement that I continue to receive has made a huge impact on me. I hope that I will be able to share many good ideas and inspiration with you in future!
      P.S. Did you find a suitable polar bear pattern?