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FrancesAnne Isle of Wight
Posts: 64

I'm experimenting with making a pattern for a 'realistic' looking bear.  At the moment I'm reshaping and adapting an existing teddy pattern.  But could somebody answer one question for me:  The muzzle of a black bear is lighter in colour, do you cut the muzzle pieces from a lighter fabric or do you somehow lighten the dark fur on the muzzle area of an 'all-in-one' head?   I may be approaching this area of making the pattern in the wrong way, but I'm just wondering if I need to shape & cut separate muzzle pieces.

I really appreciate that when bear artists have spent many hours creating their own unique patterns they are reluctant to divulge their techniques and methods, but I'd be grateful for any hints or tips you could offer me.

desertmountainbear desertmountainbear
Bloomsburg, PA
Posts: 5,399

You can cut the muzzle of a lighter color.  Many people do that.  You can needle felt the area with a lighter color wool, that is what I do.  Then you can shade the areas you want darker either way with paints or markers.


FrancesAnne Isle of Wight
Posts: 64

Many thanks for your quick reply Joanne, that's very helpful.  I'm worried that the seam lines of a sewn in muzzle might be difficult to blend in with the dark fur.  So I think I'll practise my needle felting a bit more and perhaps try that.  I'm adventurous if nothing else!  Many thanks again,

dangerbears Dangerbears
Posts: 6,021

I've made many bears with contrasting muzzles (and other body parts). If you use fur of a similar length/quality, the seam isn't visible since the pile lies over it nicely.

To make the bear below with a 3-piece head, you would "split" all three head pieces into two - a light-fur piece and a dark-fur piece. Just draw a line on the pattern piece where you want the seam, and add your seam allowance (mine is 3/16") to each piece so that you're not shortening the pattern when you sew the colors together. Easy!  bear_original


desertmountainbear desertmountainbear
Bloomsburg, PA
Posts: 5,399

If you do not cut the fur all the way down in the muzzle area it will blend beautifully, just like Becky's.


ScaliWagGrrs ScaliWagGrrs
Denver, Colorado
Posts: 1,157

I usually use a lighter color mohair for the muzzle. I even will use a shorter length mohair and I find it works ok. I do just what Becky suggested--cut your pattern where you want the lighter fabric and be sure to add back the seam allowance on each piece--side heads and head gusset.
I think you would have a devil of a time trying to lighten a dark fabric other than painting it which then makes the fur all stiff. I do airbrush eyebrows on in a lighter color to match the muzzle but since that is such a small area any stiffness is negligable. You can also needlefelt the eyebrows.
Have fun! And show us your bear when you get him done.

suejennings TeddyBuys
Posts: 1,154

Re: an inset muzzle - If you are concerned about the seam lines showing, ensure you use a dense fur and take great care with the direction the fur pile is running on the side head, gusset and muzzle pieces. I often cut side head pieces with the fur running about 120 degrees from the vertical. (facing forward)
I hope this helps.



Geralye Belper, Derbyshire
Posts: 110

Have a look at the Bear Bits website.  I know that Jean uses different coloured inserted muzzles, but she carefully selects a mohair of the same type (but different colour and length), and then blends them by airbrushing.

Linda Benson Bears
Posts: 562

And make sure that when you stuff the head that your seam allowances are finger pressed so that they lay facing the nose, this will ensure that the fur will lie in the right direction so that the seam blends well into the rest of the fur. If you find that the fur isn't laying back after you have stuffed the head, a little seam manipulation with a strong needle from the outside will help.

FrancesAnne Isle of Wight
Posts: 64

You're all so kind to offer your advice on this topic, and after looking at numerous lifelike bears I can see why using a different mohair for the muzzle could be a good idea. 

I've drawn a pattern and used it to make a 'tester bear' out of curtain lining fabric.  He's sitting in front of me as I type - a very bald bear without fur - I half expect him to shiver!  As I expected I've made some errors; his back legs are a bit too skinny and his paw pads are too narrow.  But his head looks really odd.  I gave him a neck and a longer muzzle but forgot to make the muzzle deeper as well, so now he looks like one of those very sleek Egyptian dogs!!  Back to the drawing board I think............ !

FrancesAnne Isle of Wight
Posts: 64
Linda wrote:

...make sure that when you stuff the head that your seam allowances lay facing the nose.

Linda,  Thank you for that tip.  I have never heard that mentioned anywhere else and it's very useful to know.     bear_original

kellydean k e l l y d e a n & c o m p a n y
Narrowsburg, New York
Posts: 718

I've been working with a contasting muzzle a lot this year and have found that for me it's been less about blending the colors or what types of fur used, and more about where the line of demarcation takes place and how the furs match at that point.   careful shaving and trimming is key.

FrancesAnne Isle of Wight
Posts: 64

Kelly what a beautiful bear.  Such an expressive face, he looks as if he paused in what he was doing to pose for the photo!   Your bears are really magnificent, and I love the other animals you make especially the roosters & goslings.  I have a vintage pattern for some farmyard animals which I may get around to making - sometime......!

After looking at hundred's of lifelike bears (and photos of real bears) I can see there are lots of ways to create two tone faces/heads etc, and choosing the best demarcation line is what I'm working on right now.  I've re-drawn bits of this bear so many times I can't remember what he looked like to begin with!  As this is my first attempt at anything vaguely realistic I think he will probably turn out to be something between a teddy and a proper bear.  It will probably take me quite a while but it's good for me to have to do something slowly and think it through.  I'm learning a lot about pattern making as well, as opposed to assembling from a ready made pattern.

Gabriele~GJOYfulBears GJOYful Bears
Posts: 511

I am working on a realistic bear now, a polar bear, and he is somewhere between a teddy and a realistic bear but I designed the pattern this way so that he would look good sitting up like a teddy but still be shaped like a polar bear. You could try making him somewhere between the two for your first go and that way you'll have achieved a bit of both worlds lol. I'm thoroughly enjoying making this realistic bear, I love making all bears but making this one has just made me so HAPPY! Don't know why. Maybe this is the style I'm meant to learn about most and stick with. We'll see. bear_original

Best of luck with your bear Frances and be sure to share pics when he's finito bear_original

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