This is Billy Bear. He's approximately 35 years old. He was bought for my older brother, but then at some point when I was about 2 years old, I inherited him and have kept him ever since. I've been wanting to clean/restore him for years now and I finally got around to it. It was a very easy process, so I thought I'd share. I've seen some "stuffed animal repair" services online that cost in the $100s, so I thought I would share my experience and save everyone some money.
As you can see, he was a little dirty (and a lot dirtier than I thought) and he had a few holes in his arms. Seemed like it would be like an easy project to complete.
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Step 1: De-stuff and Vacuum
First thing I did was get an Xacto knife and cut the rear seam in his back, then proceeded to de-stuff him.
After removing all the old stuffing (which looked and smelled like old dirty socks), turned him inside-out and took out my handheld vacuum and made sure I got rid of all the old stuffing that was stuck to his insides. It took awhile, but I was able to get him super clean. I had to open up his back a little more so I could fully turn him inside-out. He was so flat and un-full of life at this point. Sadness.
NOTE: Make sure to wear a little dusk mask just in a case there's weird old dust inside your stuffed animal.
Step 2: Wash and Dry
Next, I filled up my sink with cold water and soaked him in there. I used gentle fabric soap and soaked him for about an hour. I then slowly laundered him with my hands to make sure he'd get a good scrubbing. Check out the color of the water. Gross! That's about 35 years worth of grime coming out.
Next, I ringed him out really good and rinsed him a few times with colder water then placed him into a laundry bag. I put the dryer on the lowest setting and dried him for about 20min. Then, I laid him outside for a day so he would fully dry. Just look at that color difference! This whole time I thought he was a brown bear, but turns out his real color was orange. Haha! Craziness!
Step 3: Sew and Repair
Now that he's all clean I started on his repairs. I turned his arms inside-out and then took a needle and thread that kind of matched the original. Make sure to use a needle that's large enough to push through the fabric, then sew. I don't know anything about sewing so I just looped the thread around. Seemed to work perfectly.
Step 4: Re-stuff Head
Now it's time to re-stuff. I bought this "economical eco-friendly recycled polyester fiberfill" and ended up removing it all after I had re-stuffed fully. DO NOT USE THAT. He ended up feeling like a cheap carnival animal and wasn't super soft and squishy like he originally was. So, I ended up taking all the stuffing out and bought some "Silky Soft" instead. HUGE DIFFERENCE.
Now, start stuffing. I made sure to fill his head fully and made sure his nose was fully stuffed. I was originally going to redo his nose and mouth with new pieces of fabric, but decided to leave it the way it was to keep it's authenticity.
Step 5: Re-stuff Arms and Legs
Next, I stuffed his arms and legs. I made sure not to stuff his body yet, as I still needed to sew up his back a little more.
He looks hungry. Time to stuff his belly!
Step 6: Sew and Re-stuff Body
As you can see in the first picture, his back is now fully opened up, so, I needed to sew him up again to where my hand would fit in just enough to stuff more stuffing into him. That way, you'll have enough room for stuffing and the final seam won't be so big or noticeable. Now, start stuffing!
Step 7: Stuff and Seal
Last step, sew up his back. I didn't care so much if you could see the thread or seam too much, but because of his fur, the stitching seemed to get lost anyway. Perfect! Now he sits up nicely and looks nice and fat.
Step 8: Enjoy!
Look at that difference! So clean, and it only took a few days to do, but it'll be enjoyed for many more years to come. I hope this helps anyone whoever thought about doing this before. It was easy and super fun to do.
NOTE: I actually think the "after" picture was with the bad "eco" filling. His head doesn't look that square anymore. It's nice and round like the "before" pict.