Vintage Mink Bears by Kathy Myers

Vintage Mink Bears by Kathy Myers
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Monday, September 21, 2020

Custom Order 20: first four teddies finished

 Donna's order is half way finished. Of the seven teddies requested I have finished the two Mother-Daughter sets. I think they are beautiful!

I am now working on the last 3 teddies. They are all cut out and I am currently working on the sewing.

I will be contacting Donna to arrange shipping these completed teddies (probably via FedEx since that is how she shipped her coat to me). No point in them sitting here with me when she could be enjoying them.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Work in Progress ... plus a new teddy pattern

 Daughter teddies :

Bodies finished and jointed

Heads and necks jointed

Now I need to work on the all important face.

I have not been getting much accomplished lately due to the heat wave here. We are only about a 20 minute drive to the coast so we don't have an air conditioner in our little house ... we don't usually need one unless we have the (what used to be) rare HOT day or days. Well, last week was sooooo hot! And our California Fire Season is no longer just a season but it is all the time. None of the current fires are near my location but it still effects the air quality. Well, I've been having headaches and one day it was a migraine. Oddly while dealing with my aching head all I could think of is "I need to make myself a new teddy". LOL. So I did. 

This is a new pattern that I drew out. I wanted a chubby little teddy that fit in the palm of my hand.

I wanted to make a teddy that took just one day and not several days or weeks like my mink teddies. So I went through my mohair and alpaca storage boxes and found a scrap of alpaca (my favorite). I drew out a pattern that fit the size of the scrap piece.

I used wool felt for the paw pads which I hand painted.

I took these photos first and that's went I decided that it needed some paint ... seemed a little uninteresting without the paint.

I used to use the mohair and alpaca fabrics to work out my new pattern ideas simply because fabric is faster, less messy, and more fun to use for teddies. Am I going to try this pattern in mink? Probably not because I designed the pattern for fabric not pelts.

I'm quite pleased with the one-day teddy that I made to add to my personal collection.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Forced to change my shipping provider

For the past 30 plus years I have been safely shipping my teddies through the United States Postal Service with absolutely no problems. Now there is a new Postmaster General and since he has been the head of the USPS I have had  several packages gone missing. I reported each one (after waiting over a week past their expected delivery date). I was always given a Confirmation Number for each of my Missing Mail reports ... but I never received any follow-ups. One package finally arrived almost a month late. The package pictured above just arrived today August 25 and as you can see in the last photo it was shipped July 15 (from my neighborhood pharmacy, so the expected deliver was July 16). So that is well over a month late. I have one other package that stopped tracking on July 14 and I will probably never receive that one. My daughter also received a package a month after it's expected delivery date.

Therefore, from now on my teddies will be shipped either by UPS or FedEx. 

By the way, I did go back to my pharmacy after waiting 2 weeks because I was running out of my prescription medication and they kindly replaced the order... and told me that the problem I had with USPS was becoming a common one for their pharmacy. 

UPDATE: a few days after I posted this the package that never arrived suddenly started tracking at my local post office. I received an email notice that it was to be delivered that day. I was home all day and never received it. Then I received another email notice to say that the package was delivered to my front porch (with the time of delivery). Well, I checked my front porch camera and sure enough ... no one came to my door at that time. UUUGH! I was hoping that whoever received my package would return it ... but people are not as nice as they used to be.

Well, that just reinforces my decision NOT to ship my teddies via USPS until there is a new Postmaster General and department starts running smoothly again.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Work in Progress for Custom Order 20

For Donna

This is the Family Heirloom full length very very dark brown mink coat.

It is beautiful!

It has wonderful detailing, like these buttons.

The teddies from this coat should be exquisite.

The lining has beautiful velvet ribbon detailing.

I LOVE the buttons! 
They will definitely go home with the teddies to wear.

The only problem with very very dark colored mink is that visually some of the details that I traditionally do on my teddies, like the hand-painting and the black glass eyes, won't be as noticeable. In fact, on these teddies I won't hand paint their faces because you would not be able to see it. 

This is the backside of the pelts and they look to be in great condition.

Hopefully I will be able to find 2 Mother-Daughter sets and 3 - 11 inch teddies hiding in this coat. That is a total of 7 bears. I am not anticipating any problems with finding that many but I won't know for sure until I cut out and then lay out the lining-pattern pieces for all 7 teddies.

Feb 15 UPDATE:

Each teddy requires 31 pattern pieces
I have prepared 217 pattern pieces for all 7 teddies

Next step is to:
 (1) take the coat apart
(2) lay out all of the pattern pieces on the mink pelts
(3) gently glue each pattern piece down

I plan on cutting out and completing one teddy at a time.

APRIL 29, 2020

Well, here we all are ... in a PANDEMIC !!!  

So it should come as no surprise that I have been totally distracted from making teddies.  

My daughter has Cystic Fibrosis and while she is doing quite well at the age of 32 there is no question that her lungs are fragile and this virus would definitely be fatal to her. And since both my husband and I are seniors we are also high risk. We live in Los Angeles county which has been a hard hit hot spot for Covid-19 with over 1000 people dead and many thousands testing positive including some of our neighbors. So we have been staying home and having all of our groceries and other essential items delivered. We wear our masks and gloves when we do HAVE to go out. We even wear our masks to walk our dogs in the neighborhood. We have resigned ourselves to this being our life style for the next year or two ... fortunately we are all very happy Home-bodies who love being home! We love to read, work around the house and garden, and we all have hobbies. I have been enjoying getting back to my first love of drawing and painting. Being home is our Happy Place, so my little family is content.

Now the update on this large custom order:

I had to wait for a warm sunny day to work outside because this part is very messy.

The photo above is the coat cut open and the lining removed.

It took a couple of days to glue the pattern pieces of all 7 teddies to the pelts.

Then I started cutting out each mink pattern piece ... that took another couple of days.
Then the weather turned bad again with wind and rain but I managed to get everything cut out before I had to stop working outside.

I will be working on two teddies at a time. 

This is the box full of the rest of the pattern pieces ... 5 more future teddies.

I think I managed to get all this completed by the end of March. And here we are now at the end of April and I have not touched the teddies yet this month because everyday living just got in the way.  My cat got sick and required several trips to the vet and daily treatments 5 times a day. She is fine now. The great sunny Southern California weather has finally arrived which means that I spend most of my time in my beloved garden where there is always something that needs tending to. And then there are the masks that are now required here in California. Of course, I started making them for every member of my family. I tried several different patterns until I found a couple of styles that we all liked. Now I am making a wardrobe of masks for my family since we will be mask wearers from now on ... during the pandemic for sure and then during the annual flu season ... from now until forever because it just seems like common sense to us now.

 I am making masks from whatever fabrics I could find around my studio so the masks are quite colorful since those are the fabrics that I collected over the years.

I have 3 dogs and a cat and I will be doing a portrait of each during my time of home isolation. This is a portrait of Marnie our crazy Jack Russel-mix who is our three-legged wonder dog. Our family has a soft spot for "handicapped" dogs after living 19 years with a poodle that was born without eyes.

Okay, that my update on both myself, my family, and this current order. What's next with this order?
  1. I need to trim the seam allowance around each and every pattern piece.
  2. I will machine sew the large pieces like the body and arms and legs
  3. I will hand sew the smaller pieces like the head, ears, paw pads.
  4. Turn the pieces inside out
  5. insert the joints

I will post photos of these steps as I go along ... I will be working on the teddies 2 at a time.

May 6 Update

1. I hand-trimmed a 1/8 to 1/4 inch seam clearance around each pattern piece

2. I clipped together each piece to prepare for machine sewing. I used to completely hand sew each and every teddy that I made because that gave me the best control over the all important stitching. But now that I have arthritis in my fingers I machine sew the larger limbs and hand sew the head and smaller pieces.

3. machine sewing finished.

Update May 31, 2020

Well, hand sewing takes the longest because I do it slowly with lots of breaks due to the arthritis in my fingers ... but I finally finished sewing the first two teddies.

Next steps:
  1. clean up the seam lines
  2. turn the pieces inside out
  3. joint the pieces
  4. stuff the teddies

I also finished another colored pencil portrait. This is my best buddy Watson.

(To see more of my drawings and sculptures you can click on the link with the dragon photo on the right side of this blog page)

UPDATE: July 3

Bodies sewn, jointed, and limbs stuffed

Head stuffed with neck attached

inserted eyes and embroidered nose

Looking really good so far !!!

As you can see black fur teddies with black eyes and black nose is very hard to photograph.
Actually black fur is very hard to work with because I can not see the details as I am working... but they always turn out beautifully elegant.


I have already started on the companion daughter bears for these two mother bears:

I finished cutting out all of the mink pattern pieces for all of the teddies

Black mink is hard to photograph and see all of the details because I use only natural light
 (I no longer have space to set up a photo area with correct lighting in my tiny house)

This photos shows a little better how elegant black mink is with its undercoat of rich chocolate brown .... delicious!!!

I am now repeating all of the steps for the "daughter teddies" to accompany these mother bears.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Finally finished Custom Order #19

For Mary Jo

I appreciate Mary Jo and all of my collectors who are so patiently waiting for me to complete their custom teddies.

To see lots of photos of these teddies

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

WIP Custom Order #19

for Mary Jo

This custom order is for 3 teddies. This is a long shawl and it looks like I should be able to find three teddies hiding in it. One from Pattern 1(mother bear), the next from Pattern 2 (mother bear) and the third from Pattern 1 but this last teddy will have to be my smaller version (daughter bear).

It was requested that there be an initial from the shawl on each teddy foot pad and I will see if they fit.

I will be updating this post with my Work In Progress photos of this three teddy order ... so please check back to see as the teddies are being created.

My first step is to finish taking the shawl apart.
Next, I will make my cotton pattern lining for each teddy.
Then, I will lay out and attach the lining to the pelt ... it is at the end of this step when I will know for sure if I have enough pelt for two mother teddies and one daughter teddy.

Right now,  the only thing I know for sure is that I will have absolutely no room for error. I will have to double and triple check my teddy layout before I start cutting out the mink teddy pieces.

********************UPDATE ... OCT 22, 2019********************

cut out pattern & lining

prepare mink pelts

attach lining pattern pieces

at this point I've cut out the two larger bears
and I'm hoping that there is enough pelt for the smaller bear

I cut out the small bear pattern & lining

Hooray!!! there was enough pelt for the smaller teddy.

Now I have all three teddies cut out.

The next steps are: 
(1) to cut out the seam lining on each pattern piece
(2) to clip the pattern pieces together
(3) to sew the pieces together ... mostly by hand but thanks to arthritis in my fingers I'm going to try sewing also by machine
(4) to clean up the seam lines
(5) to turn each pattern piece

Nov. 6 update
halfway through step 3 (sewing) ...
this is the most time consuming and tedious part
due to the large amount of hand sewing that is required

Dec 8 update

turned and stuffed

jointing together

first teddy with head attached

😟😟😟  Sorry, I was delayed again from my bear-making because my poor sister had to go in for surgery. So I spent a couple of days at the hospital with her. Happy to say that her surgeries were a success but she will be recovering for at least 2 months so I will be helping her when needed. 

In the meantime, I can get back to these teddies who are near completion: they need to have their bodies stuffed and sewn up, their ears sewn on, and the hand-painting on their muzzles. I used a different  heavier embroidery thread on their noses so I will not be waxing their noses. Last I will see if I can get the initials to fit on their paw pads.

😫😫😫😫😫😫😫😫 Update: Jan. 21, 2020 😫😫😫😫😫😫😫
Obviously I did NOT finish these teddies before Christmas ... or before New Years. What can I say? It was the Holidays and I just didn't find any time to work on the teddies. I had high hopes at the beginning of the year that I would be able to get back into my teddy routine. But then my dog suddenly got sick and even with several tests they could not find a reason. After a week or so of medications he was better. But I still wanted to know why he suddenly had tummy troubles so I did some research and I'm convinced that he accidently ate some toxic plants (that I had no idea were toxic if eaten). So I spent the next few days changing my garden (thankfully I have all my plants in containers). All of my toxic plants are now out of reach of my pets.

At this point I expected my problems were out of the way. Nope. Now it was the cat's turn to go to the vet. She has kidney stones. Smooth sailing yet? Not a chance ... now a cold virus is knocking off the members of my family. Not all together but one by one. As soon as one person starts feeling better another gets sick. Last week it was my turn. 

As luck would have it just as I was starting to feel better the plumbing in our old house decides to become a major problem. AAAUGH!!!!! Well, we are currently in the middle of a major plumbing overhaul with old pipes going out and new pipes coming in. I won't mention the expense because its all too depressing.

Believe it or not, I did get some work done on these teddies, despite the chaos. I need to take some photos but they are finished except for the final detail painting and seeing if I can put the initials on the paw pads. Wish me luck.

This is a quick photo of the bears, all completed except for their final detailing. That is our little 3-legged Marnie who thinks that she always needs to be the center of attention. She saw me putting the bears on the chair and just had to join them.