20 February 2017

Upcycling my old childhood teddy bears part 1

When we made the baby announcement, I made explicit instructions to people that we don't want any new items, explaining that we would prefer to get it all second hand. Buying second hand is the way we live and have done for the past four years. This led to many people passing along items they don't use anymore. One of the biggest benefactors was my sister's family (thanks sis!). And my parents were kind enough to drive it all down to Melbourne from the Southern Highlands. In that bundle of baby stuff, were all my old teddy bears.

Most of the bears are in pretty good condition for being 30 years old. They will be perfect for our son, once he is old enough to play with them. If anyone is thinking of getting us a bear, don't...as you can see below, Bub has enough to go on adventures with.
Time had not been so kind to all of the bears though; missing ears, age spots and sagging body parts were sadly found on a couple of them. Passing those ones onto charity was not an option, they were too worn. If I was a kid, I'd want something looking fairly new. And I doubt a second hand store would have tried selling them. They aim to sell quality used goods, and sort through the items dumped at their stores carefully. Don't assume they sell everything that is sent there. 
I thought about gifting them to an animal shelter, as toys for dogs and cats. But what would happen once they were torn up, synthetic fibres strewn everywhere? Probably go into the bin.

Then I sent a text to my mother, wondering if we could upcycle the bears into a new one. And by we, I mean my mum. Because my sewing skills are limited to backstitch. My mum did teach us to sew, knit, cross-stitch, embroidery etc. Regrettably I lost interest somewhere along the way.

My mum is a talented lady on the sewing machine and I remembered that she made a soft doll for my sister when we were younger. Maybe she could do it again, reusing the stuffing of my old saggy teddy bears? It would be a nice present for her grandson, plus he would be getting something “new.” And I know she has a tonne of scrap fabric that could be used for the project too.

So I went about pulling out the stuffing from the bears. Most of the filling was polyester, with some cotton. The casing was also cut into tiny pieces, to be used as stuffing too. The eyes were saved, along with a rattle ball. 
It felt very odd to be cutting up my old teddy bears. The Builder came home one afternoon, walked into the lounge room, surveyed what I was doing, then backed out of the room slowly. I would have been scared too. I'm sure this is how horror movies from our childhood started haha.

My Mum is visiting this week, and I'll show her the filling so she can decided if it's usable. If she deems it not fit, then we will find another way to upcycle it. If it works, then expect a part 2 showing off our Mum's creation.

What would you have done with these old teddy bears? Would you have done something different? Have you made a teddy bear, doll or something similar?
  1. Well, first I need to say that you were very brave to cut your old toys into pieces! But I understand how it must be: since I started living this lifestyle, I stopped giving so much importance to material things too, and I've done with them things I would have never imagined before!

    I do not keep many toys from my childhood, only about 3 dolls that that were my favorites. They do look very old, but I think in the case of dolls, old adds beauty. They still have their original clothes on, and since I love the 90s, they are beautifully vintage. If I have a daughter in the future, I'll probably give her my baby dolls.

    I also have a porcelain doll that belonged to my great-grandmother. It is a family heirloom passed from generation to generation, but he can not play ;)

    1. I want to see the result of your upcycling. I'm sure you'll surprise us all! Greetings from Mexico.

    2. It did feel very odd cutting them apart, but it has provided the perfect material to make a new bear or two. Hopefully my mum is up for the challenge :) I don't have any dolls from my childhood. No doubt my parents passed a lot of it onto other children. Somehow the bears escaped being given over to someone else and have sat in a plastic bag for 30 years!

  2. Agree, this is brave to have cut them open!
    So the plan is actually to recycle the teddy bears into brand new ones, right? There will have even more "value" that they would be made by your mum, it's a very good idea.

    1. Yes, that is the plan Aude. Mum had a look at the stuffing declaring it to be in good condition for reuse. She was surprised to find some of it was pure cotton. I think there could be a business in upcycling bears that are beyond repair and turning them into new ones.


Start typing and press Enter to search