For those people who are not interested in bears or have a different animal in mind . . . I literally have hundreds of patterns from over 40 years of sewing. If you want a custom stuffed cat, a bunny, a dog or some other animal, let me know what you are looking for. If I don’t have a picture of one that I’ve actually made, I can email pictures from the patterns I have available. I have even created my own patterns for animal characters described in stories.
Prices can vary depending on the complexity and size of the animal. As a basic guide, simple animals like bunnies, whales would be on the lower end. Dogs, lambs, monkeys are in the mid range and ponies, rhinos or more complex animals are at the top of the range. Here are the prices for some of the animals people order the most:
I don’t have pictures, but I have patterns for any number of animals including: Birds (Chicken, Duck, Swan) and fish (large shark, sea horse) If you are interested in having an heirloom fur or fabric piece turned into a soft animal to commemorate your memories, you can contact me to discuss the fur/fabric you want used and to make a reservation.
Email: Use the form at the bottom of this page
Frequently Asked Questions
How much fur/fabric does it take to make an animal?
With stuffed animals, it depends a lot on what kind of animal you want. If you want something with the same overall characteristics and proportion of a bear, then the bear chart works. If you want something of a different proportion (like a four-legged standing animal) then I need more available fur in larger segments to work wtih. I can usually get the following:
Standard Bear Chart
Small shoulder stole = Two 9″-12″ bears
Men’s shirt = Two 12″-14″ bears
(These are approximate so it is a good idea to contact me and discuss what you want)
Small shoulder stole = One 12″-14″ animal
Men’s shirt = One 12″-14″ animal
Questions About Fur
Will My Fur Work Well?
So far, I’ve been able to work with any fur that has come my way. However, different fur does handle differently.Here are some of the common furs I’ve worked with so far:
- Mink, Muskrat, Beaver, Squirrel, Weasle, Sable, Ermine, Opposum, Badger and Persian Lamb all make beautiful bears and I can make just about any size bear from these fur types.
- Rabbit has very thin hide so I have to treat it a bit more and it tends to shed over the years. However, it does make very cute bears in any size.
- Mouton and Seal These furs have a very thick hide. The final bears are beautiful, but it is nearly impossible to work with bears under 16″ in size.
- Fox, Silver Fox and Raccoon all have long pile fur. However, most coats with this fur are made of strips of fur between strips of leather or suede–which helps control the thickness and gives added strength to the fur. This works well for coats, but when making smaller items–like bears–the strips of leather WILL show. I try to place the pattern pieces so that none of the seams land on leather strips, but this means there is more waste. If you want me to reduce or eliminate the leather strips, I can do so but there is a $50 up-charge to your total order because it is time consuming to do so. I have to cut the strips off and re-bind the fur pieces together. The fur from these animals is so long, it works best on bears 16″ or larger.
How do I know if my fur will work?
Most fur that still has its original lining in good shape tends to be useable. Furiers use lining fabrics that allow the hide to keep its oils. Vintage fur can get dried out over time though–actually, it is the hide that gets dried out. If the hide is too dry, the needle holes from sewing act like perforation instead of binding.
For thicker hide like mink, muskrat, wolf, beaver you can test the fur. If you peel back a bit of lining on your garment to expose the hide, try and poke your finger through the hide (preferrably not on a seam–though some fur is made up of nothing but seams). If it takes a lot of effort to tear, or if the hide simply doesn’t tear, your fur is probably going to do well in the sewing process. If the fur tears easily or acts like paper once there is a little hole (as long as it isn’t along a seam) then it is pretty dried out.
For thin hide like rabbit and silver fox, this test won’t work because the hide will poke through even if it is in good condition. The best thing to do is send me the fur so I can assess it.
There are things I can do to re-inforce most hide (in fact, I rarely have to send a garment back). If you are unsure, you can send the fur to me along with your order. If the fur simply won’t work, I’ll ship it back along with your returned payment minuse the cost to ship the garment back.
Is there any option for fur that is dried out?
Yes, there may be. If your fur is in bad shape but you want me to try and use it, I have a process I’ve developed that has made it possible to use every fur that has been sent to me so far. However, there are no guarantees so I will only attempt it with the following understanding 1.) If it simply won’t work after I’ve tried, I will return all but $20 of your money. 2.)It requires me to cut the fur in order to create a bear arm and leg. I use a process I’ve developed but I won’t know if the fur will split at the seam until I turn and stuff a sewn piece or two. If the test does not work and you want the fur returned, I will also charge ($15) to ship it back at that point.
What happens to the extra fur?
Most of the time, there isn’t much in the way of extra fur. Very few people have only wanted one animal from the fur they have sent me so I’m frantically working to get the number of animals they want from the fur. However, occasionally there is a little fur left over. Unless the person who sent it specifically requests to have it back, I will keep it and use it to augment other projects–or use when I want to do a test run on a new pattern or approach (I have a growing collection of prototype bear heads 🙂 ). If I’ve collected enough extra fur to make a bear or animal, I’ll sometimes create one, but it doesn’t happen very often. There isn’t much of a market for people who want to purchase a bear specifically made from real fur and there is a segment of the population that is offended by what I do so I can’t just make a real fur bear to give to a charity auction. The people coming to this site are looking for someone to help them turn their heirloom fur into animals or bears so it is a more personal service rather than a manufacturing process.
I have an old fur coat I don’t want, do you take donations?
Yes, if you have an old fur coat you don’t want I will take it off your hands. I’m not in the market for buying fur but will happily reimburse your shipping costs. Most of the people coming to this web site want bears made from THEIR fur and very few people are simply looking for a pre-made bear made of real fur so it isn’t usually worth it for me to spend money on fur to make bears from. If you have the energy, you might be able to sell your fur on Ebay.
Questions about Other Materials
I have a couple of shirts from my late husband and would like something for each of my grandchildren. How can you use them to create five animals the same? I can use quilting and patchwork techniques that incorporate the different fabrics into each animal. This bear uses a quilting pierpoint star on the belly, embroidered initials on the foot and patchwork from a couple of garments.
Do you use the garment lining? Yes, if the garment has lining material that can be used for paw pads and ear pads as well as noses sometimes, I will use it if at all possible. I will try to use it to make accents like a scarf or bow. If the lining is just too old (old satin degrades to the point that it simply tears easily), I use satin scraps from my own supplies. If there is a special embroidery element, I try to work it into a scarf when possible.
What kind of eyes do you use? I use standard acrylic safety bear eyes for my basic bears. The acrylic eyes are more affordable, long-lasting and look good. They are also more secure so don’t represent a choking hazzard for little ones. If someone wants glass eyes, I will use glass eyes. They take a special order and do cost a bit more ($10 per bear) and they ARE NOT for bears being given to little children. Although they are securely applied, glass eyes are attached to a wire that can break if enough twisting and pressure is put on them–making them a potential choking hazzard. If someone wants an old fashioned folk-art look, I use buttons for eyes. If you are interested in glass eyes or button eyes, please mention it when you place your order.
How much time do you put into each animal? Normally, each animal takes 6-12 hours depending on the type and size and the condition of the materials. There are some preliminary things I have to do to the fur or fabric to make sure it will hold up to the sewing. With some garments it can take nearly an hour just to propperly remove the lining. The higher quality the garment, the more difficult to get the lining off. I often have to adapt my patterns to work with the fabric/fur nap as well and this can literally take hours of switching the pattern pieces around when I’m trying to get several items from a single garment. In addition, the joints take time to apply and have to have the right amount of tension. And, of course, there is a lot of hand sewing involved.
How long can I expect to wait before my animal arrives? I tell people that an average order takes about two to three weeks from the day I receive the materials to the day I ship it out. Sometimes I will turn an order around faster though. It really depends on how many animals I’m trying to make from the materials and what I have going on. Since this is a hobby, I use my evenings and weekend time. I try not to work every evening or my family feels neglected. I do try to email updates along the way. Starting in mid September, Christmas reservations tend to keep me pretty busy through to Christmas so I highly recommend planning ahead if you are wanting these as Christmas gifts.
How should I send my garment? Pack it into as small a box you can fit it in. I’d prefer not to receive garment bags or cases that need to be returned. If you are concerned about protecting it from moisture, put it into a plastic garbage bag. It will not be in the mail very long–and I remove it from the box when it arrives.