Several years ago Costco came out with a larger-than-life stuffed bear. It’s size was staggering—7.75 feet (2.36 metres) tall and just slightly under 50 pounds (22 kg) in weight.
For a stuffed animal lover like me, it was a mighty tempting prospect but completely impractical both in its required space to house and its retail price (which at the time of writing is $250 USD).
The price tag didn’t stop everyone from buying however, and so within a year or so of its introduction to the world, the jumbo Costco bear started showing up on used buy and sell sites.
What were the back stories of these rejected bears? Perhaps a grand love gesture on Valentine’s Day for a now failed relationship? Perhaps a nursery décor item which became less and less practical as baby grew and more space was needed?
Whatever the case, when our new church was built, and my friend Nadia and I were tasked with decorating some of the kids rooms, a barely-used jumbo bear for a fraction of the original price was the perfect accessory.
He looked incredibly good for a used bear! This was the sale picture that lured us in:
And so this giant teddy came to take up residence in our church nursery, and over the past 2 years, he’s been climbed on, sat on, and loved on by countless children and adults alike. He’s even been used a time or two in photo shoots, such as this mask mandate reminder by our pastors:
It’s no wonder that after all this love, I noticed he recently looked very, very tired, and very, very flat:
His head naturally hung down and his arms and legs lay limply at his side. It seems counterintuitive to have an adorable, super huge bear, if looking at him makes you sad.
I decided that a little extra fluff might just bring our nursery bear back to life.
The problem was that “a little” extra fluff wouldn’t make a difference at all for a bear this size, and “a lot” of fluff was a costly prospect.
WARNING: VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED FOR STUFFED ANIMAL LOVERS!
The affordable solution I came up with may not sit well with some stuffed animal lovers, so please don’t judge me, but I decided that the cheapest way to get a lot of polyester fiberfill to rejuvenate our bear was to purchase another giant used stuff animal online, and harvest its stuffing.
I found a really big stuffed monkey for only $10 CAD on FB Marketplace. The equivalent amount of stuffing would have probably cost about $30+ new, so it seemed like a no-brainer. When I drove to retrieve him, Mr. Monkey took the full front seat of my SUV with the seat pushed back as far as it would go.
However, when I brought him to church to meet the transplant recipient, I was surprised to see how little he was in comparison… would this be enough fluff to do the job?
Only one way to find out!
Using a seam ripper, I made about a 1.5-foot (1/2 metre) opening along the seam running down the back of the bear.
Inside I was surprised to find that a really large pillow took up much of the body’s interior, but it was surrounded by loose fiberfill, and so I began working the loose fill into head, neck and limbs.
I then opened up the monkey, from head to tail, and transferred his stuffing into the bear, pushing it into all the limp spots: legs, arms, head, and neck.
Indeed, all his fluff wasn’t enough to quite fill our bear to the brim, so I quickly sourced an additional, large, no-longer-wanted animal to be our second “organ donor”.
Mr. Alligator looked bigger in his ad than he did in real life, but in the end, his stuffing was all that I needed to reanimate our nursery bear, with even a little to spare.
When it came time to suture up our bear’s back, the strong tension on the seam concerned me and so I opted for a sturdy quilter’s thread which I happened to already have in a matching colour.
Keeping the seam edges together as I whip-stitched along put a real strain on my free hand,until I scoured the church office for a solution and found a binder clip to relieve some of the tension on the opening, ahead of my stitching.
Plush faux-fur is a very forgiving material and the seam was hardly visible when finished.
Here’s our champion recovering from surgery:
And here he is sitting up after, looking new, refreshed, and cheery again, ready to take on the world!
After completing this project I would recommend this as a good solution for reanimating a large, lifeless, stuffed animal. However I never thought of this at the time, but I do have several pillows at home that have seen better days, which I could also have used the fill from, rather than purchasing the second ‘donor’ animal.
If you’ve got a big teddy bear who’s seen better days, give it a try—seeing your plush friend restored to vitality will be worth it!