Saving Sid, bear restoration

I haven’t been able to do much crafting due to some health issues for a while, and recently I have been thinking about returning to my bear making.  Sid the BearI have always been interested in restoring bears and have re-stuffed, and attached limbs and eyes for my family’s bears, but have never really found the courage to buy a bear that needs restoration.  It seems that the decision was made for me as my parents brought back a present for me from Devon, Sid. It’s a little daunting as he does have a fair amount of damage, and I am going to document my progress with saving Sid here so if anyone can give me any kind of advice about what to do (or what not to do) as well as any indication of his age or how he should look (I am not so sure about his eyes), please let me know!

He is 18″ tall, fully joined and has a long-ish pile.  From the look of it, he’s been in the sun as his head is faded more than his body which is a golden colour.
He has a velvet type fabric paws and are sound, apart from a little hole in one foot.
There are some thread bear patches on his head, back and body and he is currently chilling out in the freezer for a couple of days just in case there are any little visitors in him (ick)

Sid's brains

Oh no! Sid’s brains are showing!

Sid’s braaaaaaaaaaaaainnns are showing!
See, on the right there’s a little thread bear patch on his head showing the wood wool stuffing inside.
His ears are OK, if a little crooked.  I think that I’ll probably replace the wool stuffing in his head so I can mend/stabilise the hole by his ear – I imagine that will sort out his head shape so it isn’t so squashed.  I can also give the ears a little manipulation so they sit the right way.



Sid's Eyes

Sid’s Eyes

This is a close up of his eye.  They are plastic and I am not sure if they are original.  They seem a little too big for his face and look like they have either been chewed on by a dog or bashed on some concrete.  There’s also a bit of a dark patch around them, so maybe someone decided to paint in some eyes – or it’s just dirt and gunge.
I am not sure how I could sand/polish them if they are original to him because they are plastic and the damage seems to be quite deep.
I’d love to remove these and replace them with a more appropriate pair.




Sid's Back

Sid’s Back

Here’s his back – there’s the Dean’s label and it’s clear that someone has tried to sew up his back with some cross stitches.  Poor little frankenbear.  You can see the old repair stitching as they used a bright yellow thread – so at least I can see it clearly when remove them!
There are more thread bear patches on his back.
I’ll probably take out the stuffing, then attach a similar colour fabric as a backing then darn the holes to stop them from growing any further.
If there is a better way, I’d be grateful for any advice or suggestions

I think that his body and his limbs are stuffed with kapok and while I’d add a bit of extra stuffing to make his body more stable, I won’t do a hard fill as I do like his wrinkly tummy.
He also has a growler which still makes a little squeaky growl when you turn him upside down.

Dean's bear tags

Dean’s bear tags

Here is a close up of his tags.
On one side there is Dean’s Childsplay Toy Babysafe
On the other side there is the image of two dogs fighting over a rag book with Made in Great Britain Dean’s Rag Book Co. Ltd on them

If anyone knows how old this makes him or if there is a type, please let me know.
So this is Sid, stand by for an update after he’s finished chilling in the freezer!



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Lonely Little Craft Blog


My poor little blog has sat here for the best part of three years, it’s not that I haven’t been making stuff, just that I’ve had to get to grips with some health problems and have ‘gone to ground’.

I am coming to terms with it all now and there is a the bright side to all the pain is that I have more time on my hands.  OK, it maybe of clusters of minutes at the time when the medication is working and projects may take much longer than they used to, but that is OK.  I also tend to do a lot of it in bed where I am most comfortable

I’ve always wanted to do try out loads of things, but I have had to rein that in a little – struggling through a class in huge amounts of pain is just a waste of time and money.  I do get to experiment with lots of different things and I’ll be talking about it all here rather than one specific thing.  There are the bears I’ve made and designed, embroideries, needlepoints, goldwork like my little snail in the picture, silver smithing, crochet, knitting, felting, some card making and miscellaneous crafts.  I’ll probably also touch on beads, buttons, and my love affair with fountain pens, beautiful jewel coloured inks and how I am grinding my own nibs.   Oh and machine embroidery – the personal demon that turned me into a militant hand embroiderer, but I have tried it and it’s simple.  The hardest thing for me is the sitting down at the machine and sometimes you don’t even need to do that.

I post my book reviews to Murder! She Read, to keep track on the books I have read.  I also post on ‘A Shingled Out HSP’ where I am starting to document what is going on with the whole pain/highly sensitive thing.

However, it is making stuff that keeps me sane and gives me physical proof that I haven’t spent all day going *ouch* and I’ll do my best to show what I have been doing.

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October 20, 2012 · 2:11 pm

A new year, a new challenge

Christmas has been and gone, the decorations have been put away and the house would be looking a little sad if it wasn’t for the several inches of snow that we had last night.  Being the UK, this means that everything has ground to a halt, no post, no papers, few trains and the road has been turned into an ice rink.

I came across the Creative Every Day, which encourages people to be more creative and blog about it – given my total lack of bloggery recently, it seemed like a good idea.  While it isn’t documented here, I do actually sew, embroider or do more sewing most nights, so I am hoping that this will give me the push needed to reveal more.

For Christmas I gave several bears as gifts, this bear is a variation on my raspberry coloured bear I had made earlier, but this time I made him with an open mouth.  It was my first try on making an open mouth bear because it can be tricky as some bears end up looking like the joker, demented or just downright scary.   Thankfully I managed to achieve the look I wanted – smiley and friendly.

Ohai DaveBear!  What are you up to?
He is made out of a pale honey coloured mohair which had blue tips – it was a much brighter blue than the photo and looked a little odd, so using my new airbrushing kit I knocked back the colour with some grey.  His nose is needlefelted, as is the definition around his mouth.  You can’t see it, but I also managed to needlefelt up to make a roof of his mouth too.  This was the first time I had done needlefelting on a bear and it was so much fun.  As much as I love embroidery there is a certain element of suspense when you are embroidering a nose because you never know whether it will be even, so needlefelting is easy and effective (although watch your fingers – those needles really hurt!).
His eyes are airbrushed to give some definition and he has been needlesculpted with a little bit of scissor sculpting.
Here is DaveBear under the Christmas tree.  I was quite sad to see him go because he looked so cheerful, but he is going to a good home where I am sure that he’ll get up to a lot of mischief!
More projects to come…
Ohai DaveBear!, originally uploaded by Nicola’sNeedles.

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Long Time No Type

I can’t even bear to look at how long it has been since I last wrote here… but since then I finished an embroidered bag, a needlepoint paperweight, a teddy bear and a silver pendant all of which won 1st prizes at the village show, but no cup this time (Best Craft Exhibit was won by a quilter)   More photos of those later…

I’ve been really busy putting together all the new stockings for, which involved a lot of photos being taken under hot lights with the cats dancing around my feet.

Raspberry Bear

Alpaca Bear

There have been so many projects I wanted to start, but being lazy and generally in pain, I have settled for teddy bear making which is a task that is mind-numbing and also rewarding.  A friend recently had a baby so I decided to make her a bear which she can play with when she is older.  She is made out of alpaca (which is incredibly soft), with glass eyes which I painted with purple nail varnish and I also played with my new airbrushing kit to add some depth to her ears and face.  I also embroidered the baby’s initial on the footpad using perle and rayon floss.

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Falling out with projects

No matter what the craft is, whether it is knitting, sewing, scrapbooking or embroidering, there are some projects where you are thisclose to finishing, and you find yourself procrastinating.

I bought a needlepoint kit for a paperweight in a vegetable garden design and I just need to finish off a row of french and bullion knots and trim the turkey stitches.  This should take a couple of hours at most, but instead I have ignored it in favour of designing my Jacobean embroidery, or reading a new book, or working on a new silversmithing project – anything except the needlepoint!  Every evening this week I have sat down with it and instead of finishing it, I have been frogging and deconstructing bullion knots, adjusting where things are positioned, cursing every stitch I made or unmade – and the more I look at it, the more I don’t like it.

As it is a bought design I have adjusted some things, changing the size of the french knot flowers or the colours of the vegetables, but each time I pick it up, I see another thing in the design that I want to change.  This is madness, because it is almost finished and to unpick a large swathe of stitches would not be one of my greatest ideas…

Now, it is war and I have set myself a task for the weekend – that by tomorrow I would have finished it.

… So what am I doing?  I’m looking at teddy bear patterns of course!

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An English Embroidered Knot Garden

Back in 2007 I was on a mission trying to complete my 3D embroidered knot garden for the village show.  I had been entering the embroidery category for almost 20 years and had never won first prize – my colours were too bright, the designs too unusual – and often lost to the WI or the Embroidery club.  So dammit, I was going to do something spectacular and I was going to win first prize – which I did – I also won the best in show cup 🙂

The Knot Garden was inspired by the book Embroidered Knot Gardens by Owen Davies , but I wanted to use ‘old school’ traditional embroidery stitches – so I did a lot of research using 18th and 19th Century embroidery books.

The Garden Gate

The Garden Gate

The walls were made using linen with I stamped with fabric paints to make the brick effect – it was much easier than actually stitching every brick!  I added a trailing rose bush around the walls using bullion knots in a beautiful pink.

From Above

From Above

This gives a clear view of the hedge made with turkey stitch (velvet stitch), which is fairly simple to do and has a great effect once trimmed.  You can also add other colours to add dimension to the hedge or bush.

From the back

From the back

This shows the inside of the garden.  I loved making the fountain, and it is surprisingly sturdy as my cat decided to sit in the garden – as it was wire wrapped, I could just reposition it.

Corner Close Up

Corner Close Up

What I enjoyed was adding little details to the garden, like the butterflies and the tiny ladybirds that were made out of a red matt seed bead that I put spots on.  I wanted there to be different things to see every time you looked at the garden. It also made it more interesting for me too!

I also used needle lace to make the leaves, this is a simple woven picot technique that build up to make an impressive plant.  If you wanted to, you could easily add a thin gauge wire to the outer stitches to make them re-positionable.

The pink flowers in the corner were made using a whipped spiders web stitch on a bed of french knots that I built up to give the impression of depth.

Another corner

Another corner

I was so pleased when I put the wall together and the pyracantha shrub matched up!  Again I used turkey stitch, but making the loops longer to make a larger bush which covered a wider area of the garden.

I used a variety of different threads, wool for the turkey stitch which fluffs up nicely, regular cotton floss, a Perle for the smaller flowers, a soft cotton for the larger french knot flowers, rayon and DMC Light Effects, as well as satin ribbons.  I am not particularly keen on ribbon work, especially because I was working on several layers of stitches. This meant I needed a larger needle that did not work well with the ribbon!  However, french knots using thin satin ribbon look beautiful and creates these well defined knots.

The base of the embroidery is a mono canvas and I used a clip frame and bound the edges, which seemed to work just as well as a slate frame.  However, you need to make sure that it is properly stretched because it becomes very bulky. The finished piece was 12 x 13 inches and the walls were three inches high.  In the end I used over fifty different stitches for the garden taking inspiration from stump work, crewel work, needlepoint, turkish embroidery, some couching, needlelace, regular embroidery, pulled thread, blackwork… I think that is it!

More photos can be seen on my Flickr page


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Needlepoint Cat

Needlepoint Cat

Needlepoint Cat

This time last year I was busy sewing this chap.  See, every year I enter something into the village show and the last couple of years I have successfully won prizes – which means that I have to come up with something different every time!

I had initially wanted to make a fully joined needlepoint teddy bear, but the mono canvas is so unforgiving and a little bulky, so I wasn’t sure how well it would work out.  Instead I opted for a basic cat like shape and see how it wrinkled out.

As this was for the needlpoint class, I couldn’t use too many traditional embroidery stitches, but that didn’t matter because there are so many different needlpoint stitches out there.  Add colour, shading and texture into the mix and you have hundreds of stitches to choose from!

What I really liked about this was that I could use my favourite colours, from fresh aqua to a deep raspberry pink.  I had fallen in love with the DMC Rayon range (which they have now discontinued) which worked well on the canvas as well as the DMC Light Effects, both Anchor and DMC cotton floss, Soft Floche and Pearl.

As I am an inpatient designer, I started work on it before I had planned out where most of the patterns would be.  What I knew for sure was that I had wanted him to have tabby facial markings and a striped tail.

It was difficult to find eyes that matched the colours in the design, so they were handpainted using a clear glass eye and purple nail polish!  To define his features I used some of my bear making skills and did some needle sculpting around the eyes and nose.

I very rarely keep my embroidery and needlework, but I couldn’t give this one away so now he sits on my book case.

Back of the Cat

Back of the Cat

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