Thursday, 20 October 2016

The five minute mini teddy bear

Hi! Long time no see! I had some very interesting projects which I mentioned on my Facebook, but very little I could actually write about. I tried to make doll "straw" hats, and it turned into this huge obsession with a bunch of styles and experiments I want to try before condensing everything into one or two blog posts. Anyway, during my millinery frenzy, I went to the store to get some trims for one of these hats I was making for a trade, and my eyes fell on some beige pipecleaners. Well, outside the store lighting they were actually band-aid coloured, but I pictured them into bears rather than fuzzy nude stick men. I remembered Jason White's teddy bear tutorial and thought one of those would make a nice addition to the items I was preparing to trade.

When I tried following the tutorial, I found out that I didn't have the right type of beads and even the bear shape didn't look nice in this colour. I had several more pipecleaner teddy bear tutorials which my friend searched for me to try. My favourite was this one, but right off the bat I didn't like the shape of the head. I decided to draw inspiration from the two tutorials and my plush teddy bear to make my own design. I untwisted my first attempt, unwilling to ruin the other three pipecleaners I had until I arrived at a satisfactory result. Spoiler alert: none were ruined in the end; turns out that tortured, slightly balding pipecleaners still make decent teddy bears!

As several people asked me to write my own version of the tutorial, here it goes:

The supplies:

- one pipecleaner (about 300*6mm)
- two eyes (beads, rhinestones...) I used 2mm half-pearls which I stuck on some masking tape and painted black with nail polish
- nose - I happened to have a piece of brown suede ribbon, but you can use anything you like that doesn't fray, from old belts to felt and even cardboard
- scissors
- glue (I used fabric glue)
- toothpicks

- dark fineliner pen to draw the mouth
- pliers and tweezers to help you in tough places
- thin ribbon, string or yarn
- fork
- flame (candle, lighter...)


1. Bend the pipecleaner in half (it doesn't have to be precise) and then bend a little portion at the first fold perpendicular in an "L" shape. I swear, this is way easier to make than to explain! This creates the muzzle/nose.

2. Make two round, loose bends for the ears. If you're looking straight at the nose with the pipecleaner ends upwards, what you're doing now is creating a heart shape where the nose is the lower point and the ears are the curves.

3. Turn it over and complete the heart shape by twisting the ends twice where you want the head to end.

4. Now bring one of the ends up between the ears and bend it over the face.

5. Bend it diagonally over the nose. For example, I started next to the right ear and brought the pipecleaner over the left side of the nose.

6. Repeat for the other end.

After this step, the pipecleaner ends should cross above the nose and point downwards.

7. Twist them twice at the neck again. The head is done.

8. Make the arms/front legs by bending the pipecleaner sharply a short distance from the neck. Repeat for the other side.

9. Bring the ends together and twist two or three times to make the torso base. Don't make it too long or you won't have enough to finish the bear.

10. Make the hind legs in the same manner as the front legs, only a little longer. It seems I took fewer photos of the last steps, but at this point it's easy to figure out. Twist the ends again a couple of times, either in front or behind the first torso.

11. Fold the remaining bits over the shoulders to the opposite side and tuck the ends in. Bend the bottoms of the legs into little soles. You can use pliers at this step.
Now shape your teddy bear any way you want it and brush it with a clean toothbrush if it got ruffled.

12. Prepare your nose, eyes, glue, toothpick and tweezers. For the nose, I cut a little triangle with two rounded corners.

13. Carefully glue the features in place. I used tweezers.

14. After this the teddy bear is technically complete, but I happened to have a brown fineliner handy, which I used to draw the mouth as an inverted "Y" under the nose. I used the same fineliner to darken the nose on one of the teddies.

I turned all four pipecleaners I had into teddy bears and put a bow on the prettiest of them. I didn't think I'd write instructions for this part because I used a tiny piece (about 5cm) of narrow ribbon from a doll outfit and the narrowest I usually see in stores is 3mm, almost twice as wide.

However, I later found the exact same ribbon in a fancier store, it was labelled 1.5mm. So now I can write the second part of the tutorial - adding a bow. I hope you can find this type of ribbon, it's very pretty and useful in miniatures. But you can also use any string or lace you like. For comparison, I also made a bow out of 3mm ribbon.

Bow tutorial

1. By looking at the teddy bear, you would think the ribbon is tied around its neck and made into a bow at the front. But I don't know if it would be possible to tie a neat bow in such a small scale, so I made the bow separately and then glued it.

Take your whole ribbon or a comfortable length if it's too long and tie a fork bow at one end. It's easier if the ribbon is double-sided. Here is a good tutorial. Use the inner teeth of the fork, not all four.

2. Wrap the long end around the teddy bear's neck and mark where to cut it. You should have enough to go around the neck plus a little extra. Cut both ends to the desired length and melt with a flame. If you're using natural or unraveling fabric/yarn, don't try to melt it.

3. The fork bow has a pretty side and a less pretty side. Place the long end of the bow on the teddy bear's chest and hold it securely. Make sure to have the pretty side of the bow facing up.

4. Add a small amount of glue on the ribbon at the middle of the neck.

5. Wrap the ribbon around and place the knot of the bow over the glue. Press firmly until the glue grabs. I used tweezers.

The same step with a wider ribbon bow:

Wait for the glue to dry and you're done!

This size of teddy bear looks great with 1:6th scale dolls.

J-Doll Karl Johans Gate

Playing with pipecleaners is very fun and relaxing and these teddy bears are so easy to make, I want to make a big bunch of them. What for? I don't know. Pipecleaners in my store are sold by piece and that's quite expensive, so I found some lots of 100 online for under 2.5$. Unfortunately the first one I ordered, while still beige, is not the same delicate colour as the ones in this tutorial. It still works for teddy bears (and for curling doll hair :P) but I want to find this exact colour for my big army.

Is this a crazy idea? Can you think of uses for mini teddy bears? I gave one to my dolls and hung another in the car, the third is gifted, and that's it. The forth is sitting in a drawer. Would you buy them or make them if you found yourself needing a teddy bear? Do you know other pipecleaner projects? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

The Black Kitty (^^)~


  1. This are so cute! I'm happy to see you blogging again, and I'd love to see more of your crafts.

    1. Thank you! I too wish to do this more often.

  2. I'm glad to see you blogging again as well! Those teddy bears are super cute. I think my Blondie Lockes would look good with one. I'd be interested to see what techniques you used to make your doll hats. I made a few myself, several years ago, and I'd like to know what worked for you.

    1. Thank you! Blondie would look great with teddy bears, will you try to make one? I'll be happy to post about my hats as soon as I finish two things I planned. I started with this tutorial: but used corn husks instead and made some more changes along.

  3. The level of cuteness is off the charts! Do you do craft shows for miniatures? I think these would be a hit.

    1. Aww, thanks! I haven't heard of any miniature themed shows around here but sometimes people gather to sell handmade jewellery and souvenirs during national holidays, perhaps I can try there.

  4. I don't know how I missed this post. But it's good to see a post from you again. The teddy bears are adorable. I'm not sure I can use them in the context of my fashion dolls, but I still have the toddler dolls I collected for my (late) mother and I'm thinking I may either make some for them decorate my dolly Christmas trees!
    So you've been busy making hats!!! I'll have to scoot over to FB to take a look.

    1. Thank you! Teddy bear tree decorations sounds like a great idea, I'll do that too! At any rate, it's safer for my cat than glass globes :)
      I made a bonnet for someone else, that makes two completed hats and one missing the trims for me. I want to try one more thing before posting and of course I'll link to your original post.

  5. Hi Black kitty,

    Hello from londoom.
    I love your little bears, so irresistible!
    I have visited your facebook and I saw your post about Venus. I visit purple's blog regularly to read her doll reviews. I was shocked too when I saw the pictures of poor Venus. She has such a good face for a reboot doll, it is a shame they messed up with her body so badly. Her hands are my favourite hands of all the MH hands, so long and expressive. They were really a part of Venus. I can't believe they could give her these hideous hands especially to cover a factory error. I will not mention the joints...
    I think Mattel are really loosing it! The glue in the heads was bad enough.
    I have bought 2 G2 dolls. To be honest, the only reason I have them is because they were reduced to £3. I bought Cleo first because even so she is not really Cleo anymore, she was the one I thought was the prettiest. No major defects on this one, except the plastic being shiny in some places on her leg without bandages. Two weeks later, I went back to the same shop and they still had Frankie because they did not put her in the stock clearance section but left her on the normal shelf with the regular price sticker. I did not buy her the first time but I thought for £3, I can use her dress in the worst case. She is very pretty anyway, even if she is not Frankie anymore and does not even have her scar on her face...(factory miss out??!) Well, this one has quality issues. The joint for the knees articulation is longer on one leg. It hardly shows when you look at her overall appearance but she has a leg slightly longer than the other...It get worse when it comes to her hip and thigh joint on one side. It is badly assembled and there is a big gap between the hip and the thigh. It looks quite bad when she is nude. I have tried a few manipulations and it does not seem that it would break either. Even so, it should not be like that. I have also noticed she has shiny plastic and dark stains I can't get rid of in some places on one of her legs too. Lots of imperfections! (her face is fine I can say with relief!!). The quality of the plastic they use on the new dolls seems to be bad quality compared to the original MH dolls. The quality of the clothes is not the same either. The material seems cheaper quality and the designs very simplistic. This is my thoughts about the reboot so far. Not very impressed. I think Draculaura is hideous and Clawdeen looks like Bambi. The target consumer is not the same even when the dolls have articulations.
    I was so horrified by the sight of Venus body! And I also saw a picture of Electrified Clawdeen legs full of plastic defects on the monster high forum. It was pretty horrible too. I would be so disappointed to have a Venus like that, I can relate...and furious too!
    MH dolls always had defects and quality control issues in the past but never that bad.
    They are mass produced and the poor workers in the factories have to work so fast and in so horrible conditions, it is normal that the products are so badly made. I have read reports about the condition of the workers in these factories and it was so horrible...
    This is one of the reasons why I prefer to buy my dolls second hand.
    Mattel is a very disappointing company. They have ruined Monster High. This doll line was amazing. So original and so creative. I really fell in love with these dolls. It could have never happened with any other doll line, they were so special. Also, Mattel absolutely don't care about the lack of quality and they still repeat the same mistakes by releasing too many doll lines. They never bothered to solve the glue issue. And they should check the working conditions in their factories.
    I think Monster High will not last very long if it carries on like that. Even if I am not a fan of the reboot, I don't want MH dolls to be discontinued. It would be too sad!
    All the best to you, take care!

    Spectra and Ghoulia...Please Mattel, save them. Don't make G2 version of these two!!!!

    1. I bought Moanica for her clothes and because the price was very good (well, for Europe). I think this is the last MH in my collection, unless I find really good deals for the old ones. My favourite hands are Rochelle's, but it seems they changed hers too. Anyway, I have most of the MH I wanted, so I don't really care any more.

    2. You should try a video. I think it would be helpful for younger people.

    3. Hi Unknown, I don't cater to younger people (I think you mean children), but you are welcome to film a video tutorial as long as you credit me for the idea itself :)

  6. Londoom again,

    Sorry about my awful English. I have spotted terrible mistakes! I am very tired and I have a lot on my plate at the moment, so it gives me an excuse! But Damn, what a shame...

    Take care

  7. What a great tutorial! I can't wait to buy some pipe cleaners and make some bears now, thankyou!

    1. Thank you! Did you have a chance to try yet?

  8. Aaaw, these are so cute, I'm definitely going to make some too^^

  9. I'm doing a teddy bear theme for my baby shower, and these are perfect to make into corsages for my guests!!

    1. How cute! Have fun at your baby shower, and a safe delivery!

  10. these bears are adorable! saw it on Pinterest. Thank you so much for sharing!

  11. Too cute!! These are the perfect size for an Altoid tin playset!!

    1. Indeed they are! I would love to see pictures if you make such a playset!

  12. Just saw these little guys on Pintrust and they have to be the cutest thing give seen in a long time ! Don't know how i will use them,but was thinking of a bunch of them for my granddaughter would be a cute addition to the set of 4 felt mice mice i got her months ago for her birthday. Just cuteness to play with and let her imagination to go wild ! So thank you for the tutorial and the inspiration !! Happy Holidays to you and yours.

    1. Aww, thank you so much! I hope your granddaughter likes them, you could even make them together. Happy Holidays to you too!

  13. You solved a problem for me. Thank you! I came across your adorable pipe cleaner Teddy Bears by accident and I can't wait to make them! Now, my problem...... I decided to make snowmen out of styrofoam balls to add to Christmas arrangements I give to my friends every Christmas. 2 styrofoam balls on a stick, spray with 'snow', tiny fabric around neck, I used marker or beads for face and belly, but the HAT..... BIG PROBLEM! So the snowmen went into the box to await next year when I will glue white pipe cleaners to the edge of red ribbon or fabric, make circles to size of head, and glue on. VOILA!! Finished snowman! When I found your pipe cleaner teddy bear I remembered how many things can happen with pipe cleaners. If you wish to post/improve/change my version of snowman, please do so.

    1. Your version of the snowman sounds realistic and detailed. I don't use spray paints, if I were to do it I'd just paint with a brush and apply white glitter. For the hat trim I could go with flocking, but I like your way better. I'm happy you liked my tutorial!

  14. I enjoyed the delicacy of your teddy bears. I have made them using pieces of pipe cleaners and wil have to reread your tutorial to understand how to bend the pipe cleaners. I have also made them larger with pc with longer fuzz; they make great pins. My SO is a Grateful Dead fan so multicolored "dancing" teddies are cute, too. I have also used shiney fabric paint for eyes and noses.

    1. Ooh, I wish I could get my hands on some of those fat pipecleaners! I haven't found any larger than 6 mm. I bet they look lovely turned into big fluffy bears! Thank you for your lovely comment!

    2. Those are adorable! Have you considered also making batretts/hair clips with them, or adding them to plastic headbands for little girls?

    3. Thank you! That sounds like a great idea, unfortunately I'm not into crafting for little girls...

  15. Omg, these are the cutest ever. Love that you shared step by step. What a sweet gift for my grand girls. Thanks so much

    1. Thank you! I hope it was clear enough and your granddaughters loved them ^^

  16. Very cute bears. I'm going to try to make some. I like that you used still photos for each step. Much better than a video tutorial if I get stuck on a step.


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