Vintage Mink Bears by Kathy Myers

Vintage Mink Bears by Kathy Myers
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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.