Teddy Bear Restoration




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.


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.



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    10 Discussions


    2 days ago on Step 8

    Oh my goodness.. Thank you sooo very much for this post. My bear my husband boight me is almost as flat as a pancake. I have been so blue with how expensive it would be to send him off to be reshuffed. And Build A Bear wouldn't touch him because he is NOT one of theirs. Even though they have a bear hospital. Thank you again.


    Question 5 months ago

    I have a stuffed bear named Tookie who's been in my family for 45 years. His fur is nearly completely gone, his original eyes are replaced with buttons and he's oddly shaped from all the incidents of the washing machine. How can I restore my bestfriend?


    Question 10 months ago on Introduction

    I have a teddy bear that I've had for 22 years and the fur on his back has patches that I'm unsure how to fix. I'm really attached to this teddy and would love an idea on how to fix him. Thank you.

    1 answer

    Answer 5 months ago

    Hi, check out this video:
    What she does is take yarn of the same color, and kinda weave it, leaving loops the right length on the outside, which she then cuts. I think it would work for your teddy.


    3 years ago

    Thank you for this. I have an old Winnie the Pooh and Snoopy that I've had for about 39 years and I've been wanting to clean and repair them. Now I can do it myself.


    3 years ago

    Wow, the teddy bear looks so much better! Thanks for sharing your process. Great job on your first Instructable too!

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Thank you! I can't wait to do more Instructables!! It's really fun to capture and share the process.


    3 years ago

    I too have been hanging on to my teddy (from the early 50's!), despite his bald patches & a few tears. He saw me through some pretty tough times. Thanks, for schooling me in the art of teddy-revival! Can't wait to see his transformation!

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Thank you! Yeah, my bear has been with me through all kinds of stuff. Good luck on your restoration!! May he bring you 50 more years of happiness. =)