Online, Monthly Teddy Bear Magazine

after the fact

Cindy McGuire's Regular Column

Savannah Rose and Poppy

China Cupboard Bears

Cindy Mcguire
Cindy McGuire
Opal & Opaline

8" tall, $165 each plus shipping.

China Cupboard Bears
Cindy Mcguire

At the Beginning

When I first started in the Teddy Bear world, I was a bit like a fish out of water. 

With the resurgence of antiques and Americana, traditional bears were all the rage. 

“Handmade in America” swept

the nation and and artists like

Sue and Randy Foskey, the Van Houttens, Bev White, and Ted Menton ruled the roost. 

Vintage and antique were the mantra.

Cindy on the Scene

I entered the teddy bear scene through the back door- doll

shows. 

At the time I collected antique

dolls and when my collection outgrew the space I available,

I began to sell some at local doll shows.

I soon sold the antiques I had, yet still wanted to participate

in doll shows so I could arrive early, get dealer prices and buy

and sell, before the general public even came through the door. 

However, I needed merchandise to sell so I started creating

soft dolls and bears.  The dolls I made were soft bodied with

time-consuming, elaborate costuming.

Annie
15" tall with vintage dress, hat, and doll, $245 plus shipping
China Cupboard Bears
Cindy Mcguire
Abaih

10" Tall, $165 plus shipping.

China Cupboard Bears
Cindy Mcguire
Ham Bone & Funny Bone

Ham Bone is 18" tall, $300 plus shipping.  Funny Bone is 15" tall, $225 plus shipping.

China Cupboard Bears
Cindy Mcguire
Bunny Blue

Cindy's signature look, 12" tall bear outfitted in lots of different textures and a fabulous color combination! OOAK.  $275

Earth Angels Toys
Jen O'Connor

Enter, the Bears!

My first bear making labors were just

so-so.  They were well made from

commercial patterns using old coats,

linings and fake fur, (the retail market

for materials was very limited), but they

lacked individuality. 

Much to my surprise, the teddy bears

started to sell.  It seemed everyone

wanted one! 

Most of the bears were embellished

with a small bit of vintage lace or a vest,

which was very similar to the efforts

of other bear makers at the time. 

I hesitated to clothe my bears, though, because I was dissatisfied with how

traditional bears looked in clothing.

Birth of the First Pattern

I spent one whole winter designing

my own pattern.  It was unlike

any traditional bear I had ever seen. 

Instead of short, fat and round, my bear

was long limbed, thin waisted and more

of a doll proportion.  It was meant to be dressed, which is really my forte.

What to Wear?

Dressing antique dolls was a side

line forced upon me by happenstance. 

Many of antiques dolls are missing

clothing.

With my fashion design background,

recreating vintage costumes was

a delight. 

HOWEVER!  Dressing antique dolls

correctly has limitations.  Ideally,

the fabrics, trim, buttons, pattern,

and even thread should be from

the same time period as the doll. 

At times it can be very frustrating

to find fabrics and trim in correct

proportions and colors for a doll

as well as from the same time

period.

The Freedom of Dressing Bears

Bears have no such requirements! 

It was like I was set free!  I could

combine 1920’s fabric with new trim

and a 1950’s piece of jewelry on a bear. 

When I discovered the wonderful world

of mohair, I found I could make teddy

bears in any color to combine with the

vintage fabrics I had.

It was with a lot of anxiety I showed my

first bears at a show.  Although it took

a little while to catch on, they delighted

enough customers to get me started.

Today, much of what I do with my bears

revolves around how I embellish and

dress them. 

Since that is also the focus of my regular

column, I am providing you with a FREE

pattern to create one of my original

doll- proportioned bears.

Then, you can use the ideas I give you

in each column, to add all those extra

touches that make your bear special!

Have fun making her and I would

suggest giving her a vintage-sounding

name. 

Here’s a hint - check out the obituary

column or your local cemetery for ideas. 

It may seem strange, but I feel it lets

the deceased live on, in the form of a bear!  What a cherished place to be!

(Editor's Note: Or, click here to consult

our new page, "the name game" which

offers a gazillion unusual names from

which to choose!)

The Never-Ending Project

In future columns, I will be offering all kinds of projects

to fit this bear.  Originally I called it the “Berry Bear

Pattern.”  This pattern makes an 11” bear. 

Keep the length of the mohair you use under 5/8”

long - not too dense - and think about color. 

The highlight of my dressed bears is their clothing

so I tend to use a lot of neutral, soft colors of mohair

to allow the vintage accents to take center stage.

Next issue will be underwear!  Get working on your bear!

1.  Pieces laid out on fabric
2.  Shaved head pieces
3.  Pieces cut from fabric.
4.  Body parts sewn together
5.  Foot pads, head gusset seam sewn
6.  Body parts turned and brushed
7.  Ready for jointing
8.  The jointed body
9. Placing the eyes
10.  Attaching the ears
11.  Finishing the head
12. Voila! The finished bear

General Directions:

1.  Lay out pattern following the directions on the pattern pieces. 

Cut just outside the line.  ¼” seam allowances are included on all pieces.

Trim the fur off the shaded areas on

gusset and head sides either with

scissors or electric shears.

Pin body’s right sides together (rst),

legs rst, head rst, fold ears in half

and pin rst and pin paw pads to inner

arms. 

Sew body as indicated leaving opening

as marked.

Sew paw pads to inner arms then pin

outer arms to inner arms and sew as indicated leaving opening.

Sew legs as shown leaving an opening

at back of leg and bottom of foot. 

Pin foot pad to opening.  Baste in place,

then sew around.

Sew ears all the way around, slash

across fold as indicated.  Turn and

brush fur from seams.

Sew head from point A to point B.  Pin gusset from point C to A to C.  Baste in place! 

2.  Then, sew carefully.

Turn all pieces after clipping curves, then brush mohair out of seams. 

Stuff head firmly from nose out.

Load cotter pin with washer and disc

for head. 

Insert into neck, sew a running stitch

around neck opening, pull tightly around cotton pin and fasten off.

Insert cotter pin into body as indicated.   Slide disc

on inside body.  Separate cotter pin with pliers and

curl down.

Load machine screw with washer and leg disc.  Insert

intotop of each leg.

Insert screw through body as marked, slide on disc

inside body, and screw on a lock nut. 

Load machine screws with washer and arm disc and

insert into arm. 

Insert screw through body as marked.  Slide on disc

inside body.  Screw on a lock nut.

3.  Tighten screws so limbs move but are tight.  Now

start stuffing!

4.  Pour pellets into lower body for weight and stability. 

Stuff body tightly with fiberfill.  Close opening with ladder

stitch.

Stuff arms and legs, stuffing tips very hard working

towards top.  Close with ladder stitch.

5.  Face: the focal point of any bear. 

With this pattern I always start with the eyes.  They

are set between the seams on the gusset. 

Soft sculpture between the eyes a bit to form a nose

bridge and pulling the eyes together.  Stitch back and

forth between the eye holes. 

6.  Nose: Cut from black felt the nose pattern. 

Glue over the gusset seam in place using black perle

cotton do a satin stitch over the felt pad.  End with

an inverted V for the mouth.

7.  Ears: Starting just north of the eye, pin ears in place

cupping them around to side of the head. 

Refer to photo above. Stitch in place using a ladder stitch.

She is complete!

Materials:

  • 1/8 yard mohair- 5/8” or shorter

  • Thread to match

  • 4” x 4” piece of felt

  • (4) hex head machine screws

  • (4) lock nuts5 washers

  • (1) 1-½” cotter pinblack perle cotton

  • (2)  6mm black glass eyes

  • Firm pack polyfill

  • Optional: glass pellets or BB’s

  • (4)  1-½” hardboard discs for legs

  • (4) 1-½” hardboard discs for arms

  • (2) 1” hardboard discs from head

Tools:

  • Needle, scissors, pins

  • Stuffing tool

  • Awl

  • Needle nose pliers

  • Ratchet and box wrench to fit hardware

Go to Free Pattern - Page 2

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