07. March 2014 · Comments Off on The Study Hall/Teddy Bear Jacket · Categories: apparel sewing, kids, pattern review

Vermont Teddy Bear BoxMy friend asked me to make a jacket for her son. He has sensory processing disorder, and his sense of touch is especially sensitive. It’s a struggle to keep the boy clothed because fabrics, with their various textures, bother his tender sense of touch. It’s lucky for him that we live in Florida because tank tops are fine nearly year round! My friend has had trouble getting him to wear a jacket or coat when they visit colder climates, and of course, lots of people have lots to say about a kid wearing a tank top and flip flops in frigid temperatures, as you might imagine. It really is quite a struggle for my friend.

aIMG_4259One fabric texture that he loves is that of his teddy bears from the Vermont Teddy Bear Company. My friend’s idea was to have a jacket made for him and line the jacket with teddy bear fur to make an association of comfort and familiarity into the jacket. Maybe then it won’t be so difficult to keep him warm!

So, I searched and searched for jacket patterns, since I’m not skilled at pattern drafting. But after looking at countless patterns, I kept coming back to the Study Hall Jacket by Andrea Parnell on Go to Patterns. I didn’t get to measure my friend’s son, because then he would know that new clothes were coming, and he would panic. Change has to be gradual for this guy. I bought the pattern, ordered some fabric swatches, and got on the phone to track down some fur.

We selected a navy brushed twill for the outside of the jacket (this one), and I called Vermont Teddy Bear Company to find out how to get my hands on their fur. I talked to a very helpful lady, and I explained to her what I was making and why, and I asked how much it would be for a yard or two of their fur. We went on the website and tried to determine which fur would match the boy’s teddy bear at home. I received a giant box of fur a few days later (sent at no charge!!), but after talking to my friend, we realized I had selected the wrong fur. Drat!

Even the box from Vermont Teddy Bear is full of fun personality!

Even the box from Vermont Teddy Bear is full of fun personality!

So, we called Vermont Teddy Bear back, talked to the same helpful representative again, and explained my mistake. I thought that my friend’s boy loved the classic teddy bear fur, but it was actually the oversized bear fur. “No problem,” she said, and it wasn’t long before I had a second giant box of fur on my doorstep. Again, at no charge! Inside were two mostly assembled teddy bear bodies, which based on their size were for the six foot tall teddy bears. Since I didn’t pay for anything, I was expecting scraps. I was anticipating sewing smaller pieces together to get the yardage that I needed, but all that was unnecessary. The pieces were so huge!

How amazing is this company?! I was fully expecting to pay $15-30 per yard, but they didn’t charge me a dime, not even shipping.
The hardest part about the construction of the jacket was working with the fur. As it is cut, fluff goes everywhere! And all the seam allowances had to be trimmed, basically giving the fur a haircut before stitching… Cut. Vacuum. Stitch. Vacuum. Lint Roll. Repeat.

This is my middle child modeling the jacket.  It's a little small for my boy, but fit my friend's boy well.

My middle child

Can I show you what happens if you don’t trim fur before you sew it? Okay. Look at this pic: aIMG_4258See how the extra length of the fur gets trapped in the seam? That’s no good, especially when you’re sewing the fur to to twill. It just looks sloppy.  Now look at this pic:find the seam?Do you see the seam? Good! It’s so worth the extra time and mess.  I also trimmed the length of the fur in the pockets, and I tapered the length of the fur around the zipper and around the hood.

The pattern was wonderfully written, easy to follow. It went together so quickly, even with all the extra prep work from working with the fur! I’m excited to make another one (without fur!) for my little one for next winter. I love the way this jacket turned out. It’s so soft and cuddly inside. It’s warm without being bulky.
And the best part? My friend’s son actually wore it! He loves the furry pockets the best.


(I’m not writing this so that everyone will call the company and ask for free fur. I feel like they heard the circumstances of my friend’s situation and genuinely wanted to help out. We need more companies like that in our world! This is not a sponsored post.)