Friday, May 20, 2011

Eye Tutorial

A while back, someone asked me how I get my bears' eyes in so nice and firmly.  I shared that information with her and I thought some of you may like to know, as well.  So, here's an excerpt from Sammy's pattern on how I put in my bears' eyes:

Eye Placement
Using a pin to represent each eye can help you decide where to place your bear’s eyes. Try them higher and then try them lower—it’s all a matter of preference. If the pins aren’t helpful enough, make two 11 mm circles, color them black, put a pin through each, and use these to help you with eye placement. Don’t rush—the eyes really define the personality of the bear. When you think you have the eyes where you want them, check to make sure that they are the same on each side. Look at the eyes from as many different angles as possible and also in a mirror. When satisfied, make a small dot with a permanent marker like a Pigma Micron right where each pin entered the mohair.

Eye Sculpting
Sculpting the eye area isn’t necessary, but it reduces the amount of pulling necessary to sink the eyes and makes it easier to see that each eye is indented the same amount into the head. It also puffs out the bear’s cheeks. Thread a long doll needle with waxed dental floss (or artificial sinew) and knot the end. Insert your needle at the bottom of the head near the neck joint and try to make sure the knot will be hidden by the joint when your bear is complete. From the neck joint, take the needle up and out near and below the dot you made for the eye on that side of the head. Take a small stitch—make the stitch small enough that the eye will cover it when it is in place, but also long enough that it won’t tear the mohair which will make the thread disappear back into the head. From here, go back to the neck joint on the same side of the head as the eye. Pull the thread to make a pleasing indentation. From the neck joint, take a small stitch and go back to the same eye area, make a small stitch above the eye dot this time, return to the same side of the neck at the joint, and pull. If you are pleased with the effect of the sculpting, make a knot where it will be hidden by the neck joint and bury the thread in the head. Repeat this process for the other eye area being sure that the eye indentations look the same.

Attaching the Eyes
This is my favorite way of attaching eyes. Using an awl or a pair of small, sharp, pointed scissors, poke a small hole into the mohair where you marked a dot on the fabric for the eye placement—try to separate the threads of the mohair backing to make a hole for the eye loop instead of cutting them. Cut a long piece of waxed dental floss or sinew (around 2 feet). Thread one eye onto the floss and center it on the floss. You may want to crimp the eye loop with pliers. Now you have 2 equal sides of floss with an eye dangling from the middle.

Thread both ends of the floss onto a long doll needle leaving a short tail. Put the needle into the hole you made for the eye and bring the needle out in back of the neck joint in the middle of the head. Come as close to the neck disc as possible so that the threads will be hidden by the joint. Pull snugly to sink the eye but do not make a knot. Simply pull the 2 threads off of the needle leaving them dangling by the neck joint.

Follow this same process for the other eye and bring the final stitch out at the back of the neck approximately 1/4 inch from the first eye’s threads. Take one thread from the first eye and one thread from the second eye, pull, and tie a double knot. Repeat this with the 2 remaining threads from the first and the second eyes. Hide the threads by threading a needle with one of these threads and bury it in the head. Do the same for the remaining 3 threads.


  1. Thank you very much for tutorial.
    Cheryl, if possible , can I repost on my blog with link on your blog, please.
    Best regards

  2. It's so interesting how we all do these things so differently, I'd never have thought of doing it that way. May have to give a go with the next one though :o)


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