Bringing Life Back to Childhood Toys {Repairing a Teddy Bear}

Earlier this winter, my mother-in-law stopped by with a surprise – my husband’s beloved childhood teddy bear. She had kept it all these years so that he would have it for his own children.

When he first showed up, “Bear” was looking a little worse for wear. All his stuffing from his body and head had settled to the bottom and he could no longer sit up. Garrett remarked that he didn’t really look like he remembered him and it got me thinking about what I could do…

I started by assessing the damage. For the most part his fabric was holding up pretty well. He was originally a homemade teddy bear that Garrett’s mom had bought from a lady at a craft show, so while the stitches were strong, his proportions were a little off to begin with, but I think that adds to his charm. His little jacket was a later addition, one that Garrett swiped from a Robin Hood fox toy, ha!

Over the years, there had been many attempts at repairing holes from wear and tear. I could just picture Garrett’s grandmother trying to sew up the damage quickly so that her little grandson could have his teddy back.

And the arms had lots of wear marks from being dragged hand-in-hand to the park and back.

I started by removing the jacket and then carefully ripping out the original seam up the back.

I used polyfil from the craft store to re-stuff his head and body first. Then I took tan coloured thread and carefully restitched the back together.

By the time I had done his body and one arm, he was already starting to look much better! I continued with the other arm, then his legs and finally I went around all the seams looking for places that were coming loose. At his elbows, legs, ears and feet, I added more stitches to keep things secure.

Next up, I restitched his eyes, nose and mouth with embroidery thread that I matched to the original thread. I just went over the exact same spots where I could see the original pattern was to reinforce it. After that, it was a matter of giving him (and his cute little jacket) a quick spot clean.

When I showed Garrett the finished results he gave me the best compliment I could have hoped for – “he looks just like a remember him”. Cue the pregnancy hormones, thank-you-very-much. It only took me a couple of cold winter evenings watching TV to get it done, but it was worth it to see a much-loved childhood toy get a new lease on life. Now “Bear” is sitting side-by-side with my own childhood bear “Bunky” on a shelf in the nursery, waiting for the day a special little girl gets to meet them.

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