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Make your New Bear Look Old

By: CR's Crafts

Add some character to your new teddy bear by making him look old. This is great for those of you who want to have a vintage look to it. Great for collections too. Add some spots on it to tell stories of how he got that way.


After you sew and stuff your distressed fur teddy bear, you may want to add some "character" to your creation.

Before you try any of these aging methods on your bear, be sure to test a small inconspicuous area first. Many of these methods are irreversible, so be sure before you begin.


To add "water stains" to a light colored bear, pour a small amount of hot water over a tea bag--allow to brew a few minutes. Place dripping tea bag on the desired area to be stained, then squeeze out excess tea water with a spoon or your finger. Allow tea water to spread. It will dry lighter in color.


Darker stains can be created by using a cotton ball or Q-tip dipped in weak dye water. Most dark stains on old bears are in the fabric backing, not on the fur. To achieve this, dab the dye on the backing after you have sewn and before you stuff the bear. You can use almost anything as dye as long as it doesn't leave a residue. Avoid coffee, furniture and shoe polishes--anything with a wax or oil base. Make natural dyes from berry juices, beets, barks and nuts. Walnuts make a great dye. Wash out any food residue with a mild soap.


Old bears sometimes have damaged or totally missing paw pads. To create aged paw pads, before sewing cut small holes in the felt paw pads. Thin the edges of the thick wool felt with a scissors. Cut a second set of paw pads from lightweight fabric. Place excelsior between the two layers of paw pads and baste together, then sew in place. Darken the excelsior with dye before sewing in paws.


Most old bears have lost some stuffing or the stuffing has compacted. To reproduce this, pack the stuffing firmly but do not fill the entire body cavity. Leaving a little space in the shoulders allows the head to tilt. Reduce the stuffing in the arms and legs slightly. Very lightly stuffed ankles allows feet to be turned in or out. Stuff the paws and head firmly so the bear will hold up to handling.


Another prominent feature of old bears is missing patches of fur. This takes some practice to make it look naturally worn. Most synthetic furs do not lend themselves well to this treatment. When well done in sparse mohair fabric, the effect can look very natural. Muzzles usually first become totally bald. The next area to show wear is the edges and back sides of the ears. The rest are usually random patches of bald areas. Use a manicure scissors trimming the fur down to the backing. Keep the areas you trim very small at first, then work up to larger patches. Vary the shapes and placement. Don't trim the areas that are usually protected (under the arm, near the joints and inside the ears). Use a tweezers to remove the stubble of the trimmed fur. Cut holes in the fabric backing and fray the edges with a needle.


A worn perle cotton nose is a must when recreating old bears. Don't complete the nose, but leave out a few strands for worn spots. Or, you can complete the nose, then cut one or two strands and fray the perle cotton by picking at it with the needle, leaving one or two frayed ends. To fade or dull the sheen of new perle cotton, rub a bees wax candle on the perle cotton and melt the wax with a light bulb.


Finish the new "old" bear with a new "old" ribbon. Splash bleach on ribbon to make faded spots. Then soak it in bleach. Rinse clean and while wet wad up and press with the iron. Tie ribbon on bear while it is still damp making the bow droop.


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I didn't know about these tricks, but now when I see worn teddy bears at flea markets and such, I take a second look and see if they would like good refurbished.

interesting idea. unique and fun.


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