This guy looks like a pretty happy fellow now, doesn't he? However, in my opinion at least, it wasn't always the case. A little magic was necessary first!
This is how he looked after he was pretty much "finished." (Though I still have to wax his nose.)
As you can see, his fur is all higgledy-piggledy. Yes, that is a technical term! For those uninitiated with my technical terms, his fur is all over the place and his seams are quite visible. Sometimes no matter how carefully you lay out your pattern, the fur on the cut pieces will go "this way and that."
Now I was told that he looked cute this way, but I personally prefer a more finished look. Every bear maker has their preferences and I want my bears to look like their fur grows just like a real bear's fur does.
So with my arsenal of "magic tape" (also known as "Scotch Tape") and a brush, I set to work. Yes, I use a dog's brush that I bought specifically for the purpose of brushing my bears.
First I dampen the fur and try not to get the backing too wet--we don't want the fabric to stretch funny. After combing the fur in the direction I want, I then lay piece after piece of tape gently on the fur to hold it in place.
Here he is above with his head "done." But, as you can see, his body still needs some work. After more water, more brushing, and LOTS more tape, here's a photo of him below as he waits to dry. I generally do this procedure in the evening and let the bear sit overnight, or stand as the case may be, until I take off all of the tape.
After removing wads and wads of tape (perhaps I should invest in 3M?) and a quick comb-out, this little bear looks much happier, in my opinion.
I've started doing this technique on almost all of my bears now because I really like the result. I can't remember where I learned about this, but I have a hunch that it's from Nancy Tillberg.
This works wonderfully with natural fibers such as mohair and alpaca, however I would guess that it wouldn't work so well with synthetic furs. I've found though that the nap of synthetic fibers tend to be more "in line" with the grain of the backing rather than on a diagonal as are many mohairs. Therefore, I haven't felt compelled to try this on one of my Tissavel bears yet.
I suppose I'd better go wax this fellow's nose now. I always wait to do the waxing until after I'm finished with the water--water spots on noses aren't a happy thing.
Take good care of yourself!