New (Vintage) Teddy Bear

teddy bear besties

When my sister and I were very little, we had a bear family, sewn by my mother.  I’m sure they came from some Better Housekeeping freebie pattern–there was a baby and a Mommy and this one, the Daddy bear:

vintage teddy bear

I love that he’s gingham, and that he’s got a sweet little applique and embroidery face.  My mom isn’t exactly known for her devotion to hand-sewing, so this is extra special for me.  I somehow have been handed down both the baby and the Daddy (somehow, because my sister could just as easily have gotten both of them), but the Mommy has gone missing.  (Maybe my sister has her?)  Some of the stitching along the arms has given way, and I love them too much to let my own children do more with them than admire them on the shelf.  But I am bothered that the Mommy is missing, and I wanted my kids to have the enjoyment of playing with a toy that I thought was charming even when I was little and didn’t really know what that word meant.  So I made them a new-vintage friend:

modern teddy bear

I love her.  And, as luck would have it, tomorrow our youngest needs to have a teddy bear to take with her to school, so I get to look like the coolest mom in the whole class (for once) and send her in with this lovely, handmade one!  Woot!

teddy bear picnic

I don’t know what it is about the shape that appeals to me so much–probably the pudgie little belly that does it, really.  Or the way the arms stick straight out on both of them–so cute!

teddy bears climb trees

And one of the mysteries of the sewing universe: how can such a simple face, so easily embroidered with the most basic stitches, be so evocative and have so much personality?  Isn’t that funny?  The actual vintage one, on the bottom, was even embroidered with simple thread–not even floss!  I used six strands of floss for the new vintage-look one, on top, and neglected the oval face (d’oh!), and still it’s just as sweet as can be.

teddy bear besties

Before I made this version, I made a prototype to test out the pattern I’d sketched based on my own, vintage bear.  I wanted to draw a new pattern that was as similar to the original in all my favorite ways as I could, but that would take on its own attitude.  The kids STOLE the prototype, no lie, and I couldn’t get it from their sleeping clutches.  How’s that for a hit bear?

teddy bears slide

So I kept this version under wraps until I could at least get some pictures of it!  We went out in the yard today and let the bears play.  They don’t really stand up or pose very well, so some of the little scenarios I had in my head didn’t quite play out, but for soft floppy toys, they sure do some cute stuff.  I can only imagine what the children will have them doing in short time.  I would never have predicted that I would get so excited about seeing my kids so excited about something I sewed–but man, that’s one of the best parts of owning a sewing machine, if you ask me.

teddy bear peekaboo

I’m working on putting this pattern into PDF format to share with you all, along with a nice step-by-step, if you’re interested?  This was a quick, simple sewing project that took around 45 minutes, including stuffing and hand sewing.  Would make a really swell baby gift or way to burn some summer daylight and keep the kids occupied when they’re not in school!

teddy bear splash image

I think I might have to play with the zoom on my printer, too, and make some of these in other sizes.  Good grief, they’re funny and sweet!  I love those classic toys–who needs some horrible Bratz doll when you can have a teddy who’s happy to see you, am I right?

You Might Also Like

  • Sparrow
    April 26, 2013 at 6:55 am

    Aw, they are so cute! My mom isn’t the crafting type, so I rarely got handmade toys. My grandmother is the one who always sent us lovely handmade things, and I had some doll clothes that were tatted by one of my aunts. Those were always the things I treasured most. Thank you for sharing your treasure! I miss the days when toys were made to make you smile, not just make you buy more crap from their “line”.

  • Courtney
    April 26, 2013 at 8:32 am

    The bears are adorable, I will be eagerly awaiting word on a pattern! Thanks!

  • Diane
    April 26, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    The bears were actually from a McCall’s pattern and I was obsessed by them. I used valuable minutes of an INTERNATIONAL phone call (outrageously expensive in 1974) to ask my mom to buy the pattern and send to me. I made the family for you and your sister for Christmas – you were three months old.

  • Katy
    April 26, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    Aww, love the new mummy and daddy. Oh, and that your mummy told you where they were from too!

  • Lynn
    April 27, 2013 at 10:25 am

    I have a teddy bear (Timothy!) that I got in Germany when I was born! 55+ years ago, but who’s counting? He is the same size as yours and has the same stick out arms and everything! He is kind of fuzzy, but not like what you see today. And he is stuffed with what looks like grey wool. He had button eyes at one time that fell off and I sewed him new ones when I was not even in school yet. They are still working for him! I used to make him all different kinds of ties and vests to wear…none of which survived all our moves. I’m glad that I still have him and thanks for the memories you stirred up!

  • Rachel at Stitched in Color
    May 1, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    What a great project, Deborah! They are both so sweet and I love how much your kids are enjoying them already. Here here to no Bratz!