Growing up with four older brothers, my daughter doesn’t have as many “girly” toys as she’d probably like. That’s ok with me – I love watching her play with LEGOS and trains and all those other things hers brothers have enjoyed – but I recently realized that out of the boxful of Build-a-Bear clothes we have, not one outfit is for a girl bear! Apparently all her stuffed animals have been running around nekkid all this time because they don’t want to wear “boy” clothes. I figured it wouldn’t be hard to come up with a cute girly top and bloomers for her teddy bears to wear, and I put together a tutorial and FREE PATTERN so you can make some girly bear clothes too.
Sometimes (read: lots of times) I think something is going to be so simple…and then it isn’t. For one thing, all Build-a-Bear animals are not created equal, as in they vary a surprising amount in size – specifically neck size. That made drafting up this simple pattern a little less simple. Then both my sewing machine and my serger decided to get fouled up on the same day, causing me to complain dramatically to my husband that the sewing universe was conspiring against me.
But once I have a project in mind, you better believe I’m going to finish it, even if that darn top and bloomers did end up taking three times as long as I had planned. But once I finally got the pattern figured out (with an adjustable neck!), I was able to sew up a second set in about an hour, making my daughter (and her bears) very, very happy.
This really is a pretty easy sew, and it should fit most Build-a-Bear sized stuffed animals pretty well. Here’s the front & back view:
Click here to download the free teddy bear top and bloomers sewing pattern. Print it out, making sure to print at 100% or full size. There’s a grey box that should measure exactly 1 inch by 1 inch. Tape the pieces together (do not trim them first!) and cut out the pattern pieces from fabric, making sure to line up any edge that’s labeled “fold” with a folded edge of fabric.
Here’s how you sew the top. Cut out two top pieces (on the fold), in contrasting colors or prints – did I mention this top is fully reversible? Be careful when you cut because you really need these pieces to be pretty exact.
Place the two pieces right sides together, and sew as you see below, leaving the tops of the straps open. Use a 1/4 inch seam allowance. When sewing the curves that will go under the arms, start and stop at the dots marked on the pattern.
Iron a small rectangle of interfacing at the spot where snaps will be attached (marked on the pattern).
Clip the corners and curves, and turn the whole thing right side out, then iron it all flat.
Now, fold back the right side as you see in the 1st photo below, lining up the straps. Open up the straps and sew them together, 1/2 inch from the edge, as shown by the blue dots on the 2nd photo. Make sure the seams in the middle of the straps line up as you sew.
Now you can turn the straps back right side out and press them flat, folding in the part that isn’t sewn together. Topstitch close to the edge all around each armhole. You may also top stitch around the hem/neckline if you’d like.
I added a faux collar using mini ric-rac. I just pinned the ric-rac to the front of the top (lots of pins is helpful) and then sewed it on with a straight stitch. I clipped off the excess ric-rac and used a dab of Fraycheck on it.
Then I added a snap in the back to close the shirt. NOTE: the bear I was making this shirt for is a little tubby with a thick neck, so I just overlapped the back pieces enough for one snap. If you’re making this for an animal with a skinnier neck, you may want to overlap the back pieces quite a bit more, and use two snaps, one at each corner.
On to the bloomers! Cut one front and one back piece (both on the fold).
Lay the bloomers front on top of the bloomers back, right sides together, and sew as shown:
Next, finish the edges of the waist and leg holes with a serger, or by zigzagging close to the edge. I think it looks cute with a contrasting thread color (I used white) but you can use matching thread if you like.
Cut three pieces of narrow elastic (1/4 inch or 1/2 inch wide). One piece should be 14 inches long and the other two should be 7 inches each. Overlap the ends of each piece and sew together, creating three circles of elastic.
Take the longest piece of elastic and pin it to the waist of the bloomers on the inside, just below your serged or zigzagged edge. The elastic will be quite a bit shorter than the waistline, so distribute it evenly inside the waistline and pin in about 4 places. Sew the elastic to the waistline using a straight stitch, stretching the elastic as you sew so that it lays flat along the fabric. Once it’s sewn on, it will gather up the waist, creating a cute little ruffle along the top.
Repeat with the shorter elastic pieces in each leg hole.
Finally, try on the bloomers and snip a hole (straight up and down) for the tail to go through. For the most professional look you could actually put in a buttonhole. Or, if you’re like me, you could just cut the hole and figure you’ll go back and sew a straight stitch around it later to keep it from fraying too much.
And that’s it! My daughter now has a pair of very well dressed bears.
The adorable fabrics I used for these outfits are from the quilting cottons section at Jo-Ann Fabrics. Right now they are holding a Jo-Ann Sew Your Style Contest (sponsored by Pellon). When you use quilting cottons for something other than quilting, you can enter to win $1000 plus a huge prize package!
If you make a teddy bear outfit using this pattern, I’d love to see a photo – thanks!