Fluff and Stuff: All about Stuffing
In the majority of EbearZ courses, polyester fiber fil has been recommended for stuffing your creation. Thatâ€™s because it is readily available, inexpensive and easy to work with. Polyester fiber fil can be packed softly or firmly and it will retain its shape. Itâ€™s the perfect choice for novicedoll and bear makers and remains the preferred stuffing of advance fiber artists.
As you progress in your bear making skills, you may want to try some of the other stuffings that are available.
Coiled Acrylic Fiber
This stuffing is very similar to polyester fiber fil. It is clean, inexpensive and easy to work with. It is a bi-product from the manufacture of acrylic (synthetic) plush fur. Most often it can be purchased from mills that manufacture plush furs and is usually sold in 10-30 lb bales. It is a good choice for the professional artist or home hobbyist who requires large quantities of stuffing.
A traditional form of stuffing that is still available today excelsior or wood wool. Shaved pieces of wood are packed firmly together giving your bear a crisp, antique feel. Excelsior is inexpensive and available from Edinburgh Imports.
Plastic pellets add a nice weight and a squishy hug to your teddy bears. They are usually sold by the pound in craft and bear supply shops. Because of their small size, many artist enclose the pellets in a separate bag prior to stuffing the bear.
These little â€˜marblesâ€™ are similar to plastic pellets but are smaller and heavier. They work well in small bears, but should be enclosed in separate bags prior to stuffing to prevent their escape between the stitches.
Stainless Steel Shot
This stuffing can be a little more difficult to find, and is more expensive that plastic pellets or glass beads. The shot is also much heavier and therefore less is required to obtain a nice weight for your bear. Be sure to steer clear of lead shot. Enclosure in a separate bag prior to stuffing is recommended.
A fiber from a tropical tree, this stuffing was used extensively in the 1930's but is no longer used today
Properly known as subterfuge, it was often used to stuff bears made during times of war. In an effort to conserve valuable materials, the waste of the textile industry was shredded and cleaned and used to stuff teddy bears. Today, many artist will use their scraps of fur to stuff their bears along with fiber fil or other stuffing materials. In their efforts to ensure that nothing is wasted, they are in effect, still using â€˜sub.â€™
Peas, rice, kitty litter, legumes and other such unorthodox stuffings are not recommended. They can however be found at many craft shows, being used by persons who are not knowledgeable about the stuffing materials that are available. Not only will these types of stuffings be a magnet for rodents and insects pests, most are prohibited by provincial and state laws for use as stuffing.
Check with your local authority or the Ministry of Consumer Affairs (in Ontario) for a list of stuffings that are legal for use in teddy bears and other animals.