Sunday, October 16, 2016

Very Rare: Quilter Makes Bear

Here he is! My new best friend! He's tall (18"), quirky (crooked nose), enjoys California weather, is not a big talker, and doesn't have a name, because I don't want to get too attached to him.
I'm going to ship him out to a child with a rare disease, through the auspices of the Rare Bear project of Rare Science, a non-profit organization that seeks treatments for kids with rare diseases. On the back, each maker stitches in a tag with a number specific to that bear. 
Rare bears are made from a commercial pattern - Simplicity C5461, view E. It's only $5.96, and Simplicity is donating a portion of the earnings to Rare Science.  (No financial affiliation.)
Speaking of rare, as a quilter, I am someone who almost never touches a commercial sewing pattern. Undertaking this bear forced me to wrack my brains trying to remember everything the ferocious Mrs. Rich taught me in 7th grade Home Economics, circa 1970, where my semester project was a yellow paisley dashiki mini-dress. (I just did a Google search and found my dashiki pattern!: 

I didn't add the rick rack.)

The bear pattern was definitely more complex than that dashiki, so I made a lot of mistakes, like overlooking notches, and using imperceptible methods to mark placement dots (light Sharpie dots on the wrong side - fail!) I also initially stitched the legs to the neck. When I make another one, I'm sure I'll sail through much easily, because it really isn't hard once you grok the concept.

On the upside - especially for quilters - it's a great way to use up juvenile print leftovers. I used mostly scraps from a set of Jan Mullen children's prints purchased long ago. 
I am counting ten different fabrics I worked into this bear, not including the black felt for the nose, and the logo fabric the organization provides for the feet. 
If you want to make a Rare Bear, buy the pattern, and submit the form on this page. They will send detailed instructions, along with a numbered tag and foot fabric. Rare Bears also make a terrific group project - inspiration is here

Unfortunately, some of the project's instructions contradicted each other, and I went with the direction sheet that told me to stuff my bear.  The CORRECT instruction sheet said DON'T stuff it - headquarters does that.  So if you make one, don't worry about expensive postage - an unstuffed bear folds up small and light for mailing (plus they provide an address label and bag.) 

Want to see some real wowza finished bears made from this pattern? Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims' online organization, The Quilt Show, will hold a Rare Bear Celebrity Auction from November 2-6. Bears made by famous quilters will be auctioned. Peruse them from this page, and bid on them here

The celebrity bears will also be displayed in the Rare Science Booth at the International Quilt Festival,  which is also November 2-6, 2016, in Houston.  

UPDATE: The most astonishing of all is this bear, completely covered with beads and other embellishments, by Melody Crust. 

If you make/made a Rare Bear, I'd love to see a picture! Thanks to my friend Saraj for letting me know about the Rare Bear program!


  1. Hi Cathy, that sounds like a great project. Your bear is really cute! I've done a little more sewing than you with commercial patterns - but I did that dress also - in stretchy fabric with blue polka dots! That does age us a bit. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Stretchy fabric? I never got to stretchy fabric! I'm impressed! Thanks for stopping by!