Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Paula's Custom Order

This will be another photo journey of my creation of a 5 bear custom order.

Paula's Mink Coat
I love it when a little of the coat's history is shared with me. Paula's daughter, Carla, included a lovely note with the coat where she told me a little about the coat: "It was purchased in the late 70s. The year my dad got his pool table and she got to get her mink coat. This coat means a lot to her as they were born in the Depression era so this was a big deal to be able to afford it. She is excited to be doing this."

Well, Paula and Carla, thank you for trusting me with your beautiful family heirloom mink coat. The plan is to transform it into 5 teddy bears for the grandchildren. I will do my very best. I thought it would be fun to take you along on the Transformation Journey, so I will post photos along the way:

This is the coat ... very pretty mink. Dark brown mink does not photograph very well but it is beautiful in person. I can guarantee that the finished teddies will be pretty in my photographs but elegant and beautiful in person.

I LOVE these buttons ... I will use them somehow with the teddies.
This is the pattern that I will be using (my "Mother" bear pattern). The mink used in this example is very similar to the mink in Paula's coat ... so the teddies should look very similar.

The coat lining is so much fun! I'm thinking using it for little quilts for the teddies to sit on (one with the monogramed name and another with the label)
 I usually use the lining for the paw pads but included with the coat were two belts, one leather and one suede ... which will be great for the paw pads.

Next step?  Taking the coat apart ...

Taking a mink coat apart is very messy but it was another beautiful sunny day here in Southern California so I was able to work in my back yard. I like to let bits of fur and thread fly around the yard because I have seen birds pick them up for their nests.

It takes takes some time to cut out all the lining and to carefully trim and cut the coat into workable pieces.

Next step? 
 Cutting out the pattern lining and attaching to pelts ...

It was close but there was enough of the wider pelts for all five teddies.

Next step? Cutting out the pattern pieces and trimming them...
This is one of the most time consuming steps since there are 30 pattern pieces for each teddy bear, so with 5 teddies I need to cut and trim 150 pattern pieces ! Well, I know what I will be doing for the next couple of days. When I have a big order like this I tend to put on some Classic Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly movies because I've seen them so many times I know them by heart ... so I can cut and trim my pattern pieces without having actually look at the movie because I have all their dancing memorized.

Update Feb 27, 2015
It has been a couple of days and I am still cutting out the pattern pieces ... then I have to trim 1/8 inch of fur around the edges of each and every pattern piece to prepare it for sewing. This is going to take some time...
Update March 6, 2015
All 150 pattern pieces have been cut and trimmed... finally!
Next step? Sewing ... 
Fortunately since this is one of my larger teddies I will be able to sew the larger pieces together by machine which will not only save me time but also lots of stress on my hands. As you can imagine, after over 25 years of hand-sewing leather, my hands and fingers have suffered. I do insist on always sewing the bear's heads by hand because hand-sewing just allows for much better control and minor adjustments while sewing.

Update March 16, 2015
I'm a little over half way finished with all of the sewing and 
I've started to stuff the limbs and head.

Next step? Detailing the head
I will next work on the head, which is the most important part of the teddy. I will do some basic trimming and then install the eyes and embroider the nose.
Update: March 26, 2015 ... just a two more steps and the teddies will be (finally) finished!

Next step? Assemble the teddy

Final step? Attach the ears 
and finish the detailing on the face

Finally Finished!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Custom Teddy Bear

For Laura M.

Created from family heirloom mink jacket
Used monogramed initials on paw pad 

Features of the "Mother" teddy pattern:
~ Hand-stitched vintage mink ~
~ Mother bear stands 12 inches tall ~
~ Interior is lined for extra durability ~
~ Glass eyes ~
~ Gently hand-painted details ~
~ Embroidered, waxed and sealed nose ~
~ Wire armature in arms and legs for gentle posing ~
~ 6 joints including a double jointed neck which allows for an adorable head tilt ~
~ Paw pads from the mink stole's lining ~
~ Includes a bonus: a small monogramed initials on paw pad, also from the lining ~