Perfected unique specimen
From the initial idea through to the prototype
First of all, there is the idea. Once the details for the new Steiff product such as type of animal, size, target group and purpose have been defined, the designer gets down to work. For animals, nature films are used to achieve a creation that is as realistic and true to detail as possible. For baby items and toys, the creative and educational aspects are of prime importance. As soon as the animal sketches have been approved, the first prototype is made.
Top product quality - Maximum product safety
All Steiff products conform to the European toy standard EN 71 Teil 1-3. Before their launch, Steiff voluntarily submits all its products to the LGA QualiTest GmbH, an independent trade organization, for testing. Only when the product has successfully passed these tests it is released for sale. Baby and cosy friends items are also certified in line with the “Oeko-Tex 100” standard. Only if quality requirements are met will Steiff process the material, true to Margarete Steiff’s maxim of 1892: Only the best is good enough for children!
Two techniques are used when cutting out the fabric. Flat materials such as felt and velvet are punched. With mohair and synthetic woven plush, the pattern is traced on to the reserve side and cut out by hand using electric scissors. In this process, only the cotton backing is cut which the plush is woven into. The fur itself must not be damaged or cut, as otherwise bare patches will occur later at the seams.
Sewing and turning
Capable hands, nimble fingers
On average, every Steiff animal is made up of 35 separate parts sewn together by machine. The seamstresses work in the same manner as in the clothing industry using sewing markings. They need capable hands and nimble fingers, as the pile has to be stroked inwards before stitching over the seam. When all the separate parts have been sewn together, the sewn shell is turned inside out.
The filling for the soft toy animals
For soft animals, Steiff uses acrylic fibre fillings that are washable and keep the product in shape. The material is blown into the sewn shell by compressed air. Many items are also sold to traditional collectors; these are filled by hand with wood shavings, using traditional methods. Wood shavings give the Steiff animal stability and are particularly well suited for creating contours.
Joints for mobility
For movable animals, cardboard discs are used (for washable products, plastic discs) to joint arms, legs and head to the body. The component parts are joined with a nail. This technique was first used on the PAB bear series more than 100 years ago. A voice is incorporated, depending on the model - e.g. squeaking or growling voices. And finally, the last seam is closed by hand.
Decorative stitching, fitting the eyes, painting
Each Steiff animal has its own personality
The fur around the eyes the muzzle is clipped. The nose is either embroidered by hand or by machine. The claws and the mouth are always hand-stitched. On soft toy animals, safety eyes are used: these are fastened into the sewn shell before turning. On classic products, the eyes are pulled into the head by hand and secured by a knot at the back of the head. As a general rule, an eye has to withstand a pulling force of 90 Newtons (that’s about 9 kg!). Finally, the Steiff animal is hand-painted using free-hand airbrushing technique, and thus acquires its own unique appearance.
The mark of quality - the Steiff “button in ear”
Before Steiff animals make their way out into the world as friends for life, a final control takes place, with every item being thoroughly inspected. Only then does it “deserve” the Steiff “button in ear” as the mark of quality, together with instructions for care and the quality certificate of the LGA QualiTest GmbH. Some products are also given Oeko-Tex certification. The “button in ear” guarantees a top-quality genuine article - ready for shipping to anywhere in the world.