Tuesday, 8 March 2016

First teddy bear pattern!

I think my teddy bear pattern is finally ready to go - yay!

You notice the words 'I think' though - ever cautious!  I'm giving myself until Saturday to recheck everything (for what seems like the hundredth time) before I put it in my Etsy shop.  There will be two listings - one for an instant pdf download of the pattern, and one for a pattern and kit, containing the mohair, joints and eyes required.  The pattern is £6.  The pattern and kit together are £24.  I have barely put any mark-up on the kit, since buyers will be paying postage too.  If you want to choose your own mohair and source the hardware yourself, try Christie Bears or Bear Basic (both in the UK).

In addition to rechecking everything, I also wanted to spend some time advertising it.  I'm planning to post on Facebook and Instagram every day this week - and I'm slightly nervous in case I end up annoying people and, by Saturday, everyone is thoroughly sick of my pattern!  Hopefully not!

I was listening to one of Tara Swiger's podcasts on launching a product and she suggested that, in the run-up to the launch, you should first establish what the benefits of your product are (in terms of the way it makes people feel), and then try to provide a sort of 'taste-test' of these.

So, I've been casting my mind back 10 years, trying to remember what it was like making my first bear, and what I got out of it.  If I remember rightly, I was studying law at the time.  I was really enjoying the course, but it was all very dry and theoretical and I was looking for something a bit more creative to do on the side.  My mother has practically an entire room full of craft books and, when I was looking through these one day, I found several books on teddy bear making.  They looked quite fun and some of the patterns even appeared possible with my limited sewing skills.

I chose my first bear partly for cuteness, but mostly for the simplicity of the pattern.  He turned out charmingly boggle-eyed, but very imperfect, so of course I wanted to try again - this time with something more advanced.  The second pattern I attempted was a jointed bear with a sort of traditional, Steiff-ish look about him - with a long muzzle and a hump back.  I don't have these bears anymore; I wish I'd kept them!

For me at the time, it was refreshing to have actually made something when, academically, I seemed to be treading water, working as I was towards a long-term goal.  I still find that now: when other things seem open-ended and not entirely satisfactory, making something - and making it well, and actually completing it - feels good.

That's not the only reason I enjoyed it though.  To me, teddy bears have a cheerful, stoical, unfussy appeal - and great heritage of course!  I liked the idea of creating a little character entirely from scratch, using traditional techniques, and I liked the idea that mine would be different from anyone else's.  Teddy bears have a very personal, sentimental feel to them, but they do also have a practical side, and I guess that appeals too.  Obviously I don't make bears for children, but I always feel they retain that potential anyway.

So this is what I hope you will feel when making my pattern!  It will be a good project - substantial but not complicated - and you will end up with a very special, unique little bear who might have a few small flaws, but whose character will shine through anyway.  I hope that you will feel a sense of achievement when you get him finished, and that when you gaze into his eyes(!) you will see a bear of substance and history - not just the perfect, glazed smile of a manufactured soft toy.

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