My First Teddy Bear: A Review of Simplicity 1681

Time to Complete: 3 hours

Number of times I pulled out “Jack the Seam Ripper”: One

I wanted to make a quick fun baby gift for my Sister and Hancocks was closing. So, I popped in to check out the sale and picked up Simplicity 1681, designed by Abby Glassenberg, at a pretty good discount. I’ve always admired her soft toy design and her blog, “While She Naps.” So, I was really pleased to get the pattern and get to try it out. Plus, I wanted to see the differences in directions between her self published work and her licensed work. That way I would know in the future if I wanted to buy the Simplicity versions or directly from Abby.

Confession- I finished this guy in April, but didn’t want to post about him until he was in the hands of my Sister. Nothing worse than your sibling learning about her baby gift from a blog before the gift arrives.

I’ve never made a bear before, so I was pretty nervous. I think the small size was particularly challenging. Somehow, I didn’t notice that the pattern said the bear was only 12 inches tall. Tiny little guy.

I picked up some dark brown fleece and some quilting cotton to line the ears with. Since my Sister has decided not know the gender of her baby, I picked out fun striped fabric that could be for a boy or a girl.

Brown and colorful striped quilting cottons for the teddy bear I made from Simplicity 1681.
Picking out gender neutral baby fabrics is actually pretty tough.

There’s a step in the pattern where you fold in all the limbs and sew on the back of the body. That would have been easier if I had noticed that the directions said to “lightly stuff” the limbs. Opps.

After that, you tuck the head into the neck-hole and sew around the neck to attach the head. I looked at that and thought, there is no freaking way I am managing to sew that on my machine. I am just not that good.

So, I hand back-stitched the head to the body instead. I hope it’s secure enough. This is for a baby after all… but my sister can sew so I’m sure she can fix it if there is a head related mishap. Teddy bear decapitations ruin everyone’s day. (I wrote this before I found out what eventually happened to the bear… I can proudly say the head did not come off.)

Also, working with polar fleece is a dream. I’d never done it before, but it has no grain. It doesn’t ravel and it is pretty resilient to seam ripping. The only problem is that Hancock had a 2 yard minimum on their fabric cuts (since they were closing). Now, I’ve got A LOT of brown fleece. So, much that I could make an army of bears. Since I mostly sew doll clothes and dolls, I don’t know what I’ll do with 1.5 yards of left-over fleece.

Occurrences Of Jack the Seam Ripper:

Just one actually, which was kinda shocking. The first time I tried to embroider the face, I was copying the design on the envelop. It’s cute, but I wasn’t keen on how it looked when I did it.

I am not a smiling stuffed toy kinda girl. (Not shocking to anyone whose seen my paper dolls…)


A photograph of the embroidery on the face of my teddy bear head.
My redone face and my messy dining room table where I sew.

So, I tried to take out the embroidery with Jack, but ended up cutting a hole in the fleece. It wasn’t hard to stitch up a new face and try again though.

While I didn’t use Jack much, I did have to actually secure a fair number of things by hand. So, I used my sewing needles and thread more than Jack this time.

A back and front views of Simplicity 1681, a teddy bear pattern designed by Abby Glassenberg.
Here’s my finished bear and look, he has a cute tail. And I really should have given him a once over with the lint roller before photographing him.

Final Thoughts:

Pretty much all my problems came from the small size and my errors- not issues with the pattern design. Despite a few struggles I still ended up with a pretty darn cute bear!

I’d recommend this pattern to others who have never made a bear before. It was a bit more complex than I was expecting, but not absurdly so. That head attachment though… you gotta be kidding me.

I’ll also admit that I judge a good pattern by how much I want to make it again. I don’t think I’m desperate to make another bear, but if there’s a baby shower I need a gift for, a bear would be an easy one. I’m pleased with the results (though he is a little wonky) and I am so glad to get to send him off too my Sister.

You can pick up the pattern direct from Abby Glassenberg or from anywhere Simplicity patterns are sold. I would buy it from Abby, since I did decide I liked her photo directions better than the Simplicity directions.

An Epilogue:

Poor bear.

So, I wrote up this post, scheduled it and then got a phone call from sister informing me of “horrible news.”

My mind immediately went to family disaster of some sort. Fortunately, no one human was in the hospital.  It turned out that her Sweet Dog and the Other Dog she was house sitting got their paws (or teeth, really) on the bear while she was showering. When she emerged, the dogs had torn up the teddy bear beyond repair.

After I finished laughing at the image of Sweet Dog enjoying the bear and she finished blaming it all on the Other Dog, I promised I would make another bear for her as soon as I could.

So, I guess I’ll be making my second teddy bear much sooner than I thought. Time to go cut some more fleece.

Also, I can safely add to my review that while the teddy bear was enjoyed by the dogs, it did not fair very well structurally, so I would not recommend it as a chew toy.


  1. Adorable bear! As someone who had the “neutral” baby shower, I love the striped fabric you chose for the ears. Hopefully Bear 2.0 comes out just as nice!

  2. Your first teddy turned out great. Its early demise is heartbreaking. On a brighter note, you’ll know what not to do when making the second teddy and your sister will know to keep the second teddy out of dog one and dog two’s reach.


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