Hopalong Hollow....

Hopalong Hollow, where the Blueberries grow sweet, and the moss feels soft beneath your feet.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Making a Teddy bear... a Mamsey. Part one

        It has always been my intention to create my book characters as stuffed critters to hug as you read.  When it came to making Mamsey Bear and Mopkin, I wanted to design them as teddy bears, including all the outfits they wear in the book. .First, I had to learn how to make a teddy bear again. I have not  sewn a teddy since my 32 year old son was a baby.
 I gathered all manner of information. Each one of these books has bear patterns, but I wanted to make my own pattern. So with pencil and notebook in hand, I drew and cut and crumpled up one paper pattern after another, taking notes and  studying proper techniques. It was trial and error all the way.

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I gathered together several of my bears to study their "anatomy". Three of these bears are very old and stuffed with excelsior and 3 of them are collector bears from various bear artists.

I am starting with Mamsey, the mother bear. She isn't meant to be an exact replica, but a representation of her book counter-part. Her fur should be blond and wavy, her nose somewhat long and her body stout. Due to the nostalgic nature of my books, I want my bear  to be a  traditional and classically historic teddy with jointed arms, legs and head.  I purchased yards and yards of brown and blond Plush Felt to make the practice parts and it's a good thing I did!
 My first head was too fat and wide. It may work for a Mopkin Pattern though.

This one's forehead is too wide... and the muzzle too thick.
     I love the long nose on this one, however, the head is too large and the back of the head too flat, for my intended 18inch bear.  Back to the drawing board.


Seven heads later, I finally achieved the look I was after.
 I went through the same song and dance with all the body parts. Butt too flat, Tummy too small , arms to long, legs too short.... on and on and on.

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 Into the basket they go!
 The body parts selection grew and grew, but none of them were Mamsey Bear.
 However, with all these anatomical bits and pieces, I should be able to create quite a few unique bears later on. ...after all, bears come in all shapes and sizes just like we do.
Once I had a pattern I was pleased with, I took a deep breath and laid out the Mohair fabric.This stuff is really beautiful but VERY expensive, 1/4 yd costs $30 and up. Now you know why I used practice fabric to begin with.

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When cutting into mohair, you slide your scissors between the cloth and the "fur" You don't want to cut the fur, it will just pull apart when you remove the pattern piece.
Lots of pinning to be on the safe side. 
.These are the ears.. I wanted to sew the head first, as it is the most important part.
It was exciting and a bit scary to turn the head inside out but it here she is 
 in her lovely blond Mohair fur, with her nice long nose...

Here she is from the front looking all wild and crazy! Now,  another scary thing to do is to trim her muzzle. Don't want to take off too much fur, take it slowly and carefully. This is where her personality will be formed.
  And determine the final shape of her nose.
 So strand by strand I cut away the mohair from her muzzle until satisfied, Next I tried several different noses using my brown felt patterns  and settled on giving her the wide nose, as in the book.

The felt nose was fabric glued in the proper position and I inserted the amber colored glass eyes.


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  Next, using the thick and lovely #5 Perle cotton strands, I embroidered  over the felt nose, using it as a template.



So far so good, I just want to kiss her!
 Her ears are attached in the proper place. I refer to my Mamsey book often for reference.

Plastic safety joints are used to attach the limbs and the head. She will be able to swivel her head in any position and, because her arms are moveable, she will be easily dressed.

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All body parts are ready to attach to her  stout, round tummy.

 She is ready to stuff!
   This lady takes a lot of stuffing, but I want her to be quite firm so that her clothing ( which I will be making next) fits her nicely.

   
Mamsey still needs embroidered claws and more "stitching up". Her fur needs to be teasled around the seams to make them invisible. But her fur is messy and wild, and that is what I want.

I learned a lot with this project and will still need to tweak the pattern a bit more. I will have a much easier time making Mopkin, since I now know what I am doing.  In the next post, I will show you the clothing she will be wearing for her first outfit. In the book, the bears have at least 15 outfits and I am making every single one of them!
 When the entire project is complete, I will offer these bears AND their frocks, as patterns and kits. There will be two ways to make your Mamsey and Mopkin; as a collector bear, using the glass eyes and mohair with wool stuffing OR as a Child safe bear using synthetic fur and plastic safety eyes and polyester stuffing.

Who can resist a Teddy Bear, even James likes her.
 See you next time with  a  finished and fully attired Mamsey!

61 comments:

  1. Oh my!!! She is wonderfully stunning!!!
    You have done a marvellous job!!
    I am looking forward to seeing the clothing.
    Many Blessings,Linnie

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  2. JERI LANDERS.....

    I am speechless here....wait, let me gather my wits here....

    WHAT IN THE.....what CAN'T YOU DO, WOMAN? I tell you, you and Penny make my head spin! (I need to show you what she made me,,,,,)

    That bear is unbelievably perfect. He looks like a Steiff bear! But what I'm equally impressed with is your determination to get it right. This requires a kind of patience that well, I don't apply to such tasks.....but I ADORE making animals and did make bears many years ago!

    Jeri, I need to get my be-hind in gear to get one of your books and THEN I need to get one of these bears. I know when Penny sees my comment here she is going to laugh for she knows my GREED when it comes to must-haves from my ever so talented friends.

    BRAVO! KEEP GOING! Anita

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    1. I wish I could afford a Steiff bear, but Mamsey will have to do for now... I think I like her better anyway.

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  3. Oh my gosh Jeri ~ You astound and inspire me with everything that you do. Mamsy is wonderful!!!!! I can't wait to see her outfits. Seeing her come to life is amazing.

    Love and hugs to you ~ FlowerLady

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    1. Rainey, You would be great at embroidering her outfits!

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  4. Mamsey is fabulous. You did a wonderful job of making her come to life. I look forward to seeing her wardrobe. Thanks so much for letting us come along on this sewing adventure. Been a long time for me, making stuffies....almost 20 years. You've lit a fire that I thought had burned out. Oma Linda

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    1. OKAY LInda, you have the skills, make a teddy for your grands!

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  5. Jeri, Jeri, Jeri, I wish we lived beside each other. What fun that would be.

    Love seeing that basket full of body parts, of first trys and second trys and so on till what you are searching for has been successfully worked out. What a girl... that fur is perfect... and trimming the nose. Everything about the process is exactly right, the searching.... Mamsey has come to life in 3-D. And creating the clothing will be such fun.. each little outfit.. so exciting.
    Creating is so fulfilling isn't it... almost a necessity isn't it ... needed like breathing... imagining what can be done and then doing it till it is just what you see in your mind. It fills something in one's soul.
    It makes me happy to know you are out there. xoxo

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    1. Gwen, If we were neighbors it would be fabulous! Oh the gardens we would grow, the quilts we would make, the antiques we would restore! I ONLY wish I had you next door...

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  6. Jeri, my friend, you have done it yet again! OMGosh - can I be the first on the list to buy a kit, no, make that 2 kits! My oh my, I can hear my Grandmother cooing over this bear - we lost her 10 years ago, but she lives in my heart. Mamsey and Mopkin - what a wonderful addition to the Hollow - I can almost see the hibernating up by your barn. They are resting getting ready for spring in Tennessee. Please hurry, I want to see their clothes, love them, love them, love them, lots of hugs, Deborah Rogers Mercy

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    1. Deborah darlin, Of course I will have 2 kits for you, and I bet you could make this bear in one day. With that fabric stash of yours, the bears would have an incredible wardrobe!

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  7. I'm in awe! I made fur rabbits many years ago - lots of work, but well worth it! She is wonderful and I can't wait for the patterns and to see how you dress her!

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    1. I would love to try a rabbit next, based on the prototype created for me be Penny White, a wonderful felting artist. The clothing patterns I really fun, as she is dressed in 18th century.

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  8. Oh Jeri, Mamsey is perfect. Do you sleep? I can't imagine how you get it all done and do the shows too. I too need to purchase your books and Mamsey for my grandchildren, and one day, I'm ordering one of your gardens under glass. I love those!

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    1. Donna, I do get 8 hours a night, honest. I need to make some more paper gardens soon, as I am doing a Garden Show in Nashville in March. But I am having too much fun with my sewing for now!

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  9. I love this Jeri. So much so that I plan to use your posting to show the kids at school what the role of prototype is and why getting things wrong teaches you how to improve and change your design. Can't wait to see the finished piece.

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    1. Charlotte, that is a great idea, and a lesson well learned. Let me know how they respond to the process?

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  10. Wonderful, Jeri....it will be such fun to watch her come alive! You never cease to amaze and inspire me!!

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  11. I loved your book so much. Mamsey was such a wonderful character and now she has literally leaped off the page and into my arms in this post. You are really amazing, Jeri! Can't wait to see her wardrobe. Sharon in Maine

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    1. Thank you Sharon, I was so pleased to send the little ladies up to Maine! I don't think you have many Grizzlies up there.

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  12. She is beautiful. You have made her come to life. She looks like she stepped out of your book. Very lovely!

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    1. Lisa, My gosh what an incredible quilt artist you are. I went to your site and am seriously amazed at your intricate work. Mamsey is making a quilt in the book,in fact, after the bears and wardrobe are complete, I will be making a the quilt... teddy bear size.

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  13. Dear Jeri,
    If Anita had not asked me in an email if I had seen your Mamsey, I would have missed this! It did not come up on my dashboard..

    Oh I just want to kiss her too! Send her over here so I can give her a big hug, will you? I have said it before and will say it again.. I don't think there is anything that you can't do! She is just adorable Jeri! Will you look at all the practice parts...You know what they say, practice makes perfect.. And look at what you have here.. Perfection... Did you day fifteen outfits? Oh I can't wait to see.. Well, you have really outdone yourself Jeri... I can't seem to find the right words, so I will leave you with, I love her.....
    love and blessings dear friend,
    Penny

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    1. Penny, wait till you see her with Dimity by her side. YOUR Dimity!

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  14. Jeri......I have so enjoyed this book. LOVE everything about it....Mamsey & Mopkin, needlecraft, outfits on both of the bears, the beautiful illustrations and the sweet story. NOW onto Mamsey...looks like she came right off the page of your book. So looking forward to seeing all of their outfits made by YOU! I never owned a bear as a child but I am thinking as an adult I may just have to get one of your kits Would like an heirloom one. Just so hope it is made for beginners such as myself. Thanks again so much for letting us peek into your wonderful life!! Don't see how you could get busy on this after signing so many books!!

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    1. Belinda, My hands are never idle, I just can't stop myself. And thank you ever so much for your kind and thoughtful book review on Amazon. I so appreciate your taking the time!

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  15. Oh. My. Stars! Mamsey is so motherly and adorable and completely perfect. I knew you were talented and persistent and determined but this is both ridiculous and inspiring at the same time! Watch out for artists once they get an idea in their heads! I suspect I'll be smiling for the rest of the month every time I think of you and Mamsey Bear.

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    1. Roxie, I think you are an artist too, with your gardens. your Needlework, your unique home improvement style and your imagination!

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    1. Hey Shell, I am going to be ordering that floss soon, to sew Mamseys quilt!

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  17. Your creativity seems to know no bounds! What a delightful bear you have crafted. What a cozy and sweet critter mamsey is!

    I seem to notice a blurred area, repeated, on most of the photos, it may be the camera lens has a smudge?

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    1. Katie, I think the blur is from a lamp I had shining about 6 inches from the camera, but I will wipe down my lens, just in case.

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  19. I'm glad you took care when trimming Mamsey's muzzle because when I cut my doll's hair for the summer when I was a little girl, I fully expected it to grow back in the Fall and it did not! I think it's quite exciting that you've make a real-life version of Mamsey. You must be jumping up and down! I should think it would be the dream for every children's story author to have cuddlesome versions of their characters. So wonderful that you've made your dream come true.

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    1. I was nearly as bad as you as a little girl, I had a doll who's hair I pulled out strand by strand! I don't know why I did it, I was only about 3, but I have a photograph holding that poor little bald dolly! Yes, it is lovely having my characters "Come to life". A friend of mine, Penny White, has made prototypes of 3 of my other characters too. I will show them all soon.

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  20. Jeri - she is absolutely gorgeous and all the trial and error and work to create her is amazing. God has certainly given you a lovely gift of creativity. I am so enjoying your book too. It will be well worn as I look over and over again at all your art. Take care and have a great week-end. Don't know if you are cold in Tenn. but here in Ohio we are in the deep freeze! Brrr!! Stay warm.

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    1. Debbie, We are freezing too.. I long for Spring.

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  21. Good morning oh lovely one!

    Jeri, thank you for coming to visit. You don't know how much fun I had putting my post together to share Mamsey and your unbelievable love for creativity. But when I first came HERE to see this post, you would have needed to peel me off the floor, for I was floored, and still look at all your detail with awe.

    You are special to us, and we love you!

    I cannot wait to see PART TWO! OH, aren't those two photos of the bears hilarious? The wee baby newly born and the little one smelling daisy? HER NAME IS DAISY! teehehee

    My dream would be to hold a bear cub, polar and black!!!!!!!!!

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  22. Oh Jeri Mamsey is coming alive. :) She is looking good and I cannot wait to see what comes next. I have an old Teddy Bear filled with straw my Dad got me when I was a baby. Oh, My it is an antique now. LOL!

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  23. Jeri, dear friend, I am absolutely speechless.
    To hold and savor your books renders me speechless, and then to see that you are bringing these treasured characters to life, in yet another dimension, with your tremendously gifted hands and loving heart...(and Penny too!!!)....really, there are no words. I am in awe...
    Mamsey is ADORABLE, and gorgeous, and my goodness...how do you do it???! :)))) My daughter saw this post and literally squealed with delight...she wants to hug your bears whilst reading the book!
    Incredible, amazing...wow....BRAVA to you.
    Can't wait to see more...(greedy like Anita!!...heeee)
    The most important thing here, is that throughout this not-so-easy process, you are having FUN!! And in turn you bless us....
    Thank you... :)
    Love to you,
    - Irina

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    1. Irina, maybe you and your daughter could make a project of sewing a Mamsey, it would be very special.

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    2. Jeri, that would be a fantastic project to try...
      I am not skilled with the needle AT ALL, but I think this would be something worth attempting...and if she doesn't come out as gorgeous as yours...well then, she'll just look a little more "unique"...heeee...and that's ok....
      Sending love to you, and I hope all is ok with the weather!
      Hugs,
      - Irina

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  24. Hi Jeri, stopping by via Anita's to say hello and see what you and Mamsey are up to.
    Messy and wild fur, golden pine shoes...who could resist such a bear?
    You are one very gifted and patient storyteller, aka artist, aka HEARTist. ;)
    xoxo's

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    1. Marcia, oh, I was so lucky to find those little wooden clogs, just like the ones I painted in my book!

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  25. Oh my goodness! This is INCREDIBLE!!! I'm coming by way of Anita's blog. You are extremely talented. What a sweet and time intense endeavor you have going on here. Thanks for sharing. The bear is totally huggable. I'm now following you. :)

    Heidi @ hi-d's place
    http://hi-dho.blogspot.com

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    1. Heidi, SO good to meet you, I traipsed over to your blog and see you have a new baby cub! I must go back and see him again.

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  26. Hey Jeri Landers! I just had to get another dose of your storytelling and of Mamsey's three-dimensional birth!

    Hoping you are enjoying some rest along with more creative muses coming your way!

    Home another day (my fifth in January) from school due to dangerously cold temps closing down Minnesota public schools!

    XOXOXO Anita

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    1. REST?! I wouldn't think of it! I'm having too much fun, with my needles and thread.

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  27. Your comment above made me laugh.. REST? You, never.
    Thank you Jeri, for wandering over to meet Oliver and leaving such kind thoughts. I am so happy you enjoyed viewing.
    fondly,
    Penny


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  28. Oh I so admire your talent,I never could sew! This is such a delightful creation and must have been such fun to watch come to life.
    I love what you're doing,wish I could sit and watch a bit.
    Warm hugs from the frozen tundra

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    1. Oh my goodness Amy, I wish you could sew. It is so relaxing and satisfying. I learned at a young age and then took HOME EC in Junior High School for dressmaking.

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  29. The suspense is making me nuts! I cannot wait to see Mamsey in all her beautiful handmade clothing!
    How sweet of you to come sit with Oliver again.. I added another photo at the bottom.
    I will keep checking your blog... New posts do not always show up on my dashboard.

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  30. I too am waiting on baited breath to see La Collection des Robes! teheheheheheh

    I WILL BE BACK!

    And rest? There is no rest for the artist!

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    1. Penny, Anita, Oh blast, fashion show has been postponed due to bad weather in the Hollow< we will resume our plans tomorrow for sure!

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  31. oh my goodness, this is amazing! so much love and care poured into your adorable bear, i love it's face!

    your book arrived in good time and in good condition. It is amazingly beautiful in all it's gorgeous details. I feel like i am waiting for a child to visit before reading it, but i might have to do it by myself. thank you so much!

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  32. Dear Jeri,

    You have done it again! I am always amazed at your talent. We did receive the book, and were blown away by the artwork. Evangeline is displaying it right now on her desk, and has been examining all of the wonderful details on every page. Thank you so much for being you, and for being our friend. :)

    Love,

    Marqueta

    p.s. Of course you are welcome to be in the Rapunzel Club! I hope to keep mine long till I'm 90 or so. :)

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  33. She is FANTASTIC Jeri!!! Absolutely darling, beyond words! My goodness, if we were, in fact, neighbors...what a kingdom we would create!
    Much much love and momma bear hugs to you, dear kindred sister,
    Christie

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