As eyes are such fiddly little blighters and so that I can see what I need at a glance when I am working, I like to keep them organised like this ...
This is my favourite method:
1. Holding the bear's head level (I like to balance my bear's head between my knees!) use two coloured head pins to mark each eye placement. I like to set mine just outside the head gusset seam, but this is a personal choice and will vary from maker to maker. Take your time to decide exactly where you would like your eyes to sit as this is an important factor in determining the bear's final expression.
Tip: I find it helps to have embroidered the nose before placing the eyes, to ensure the eyes are level.
2. Cut two long lengths of extra strong thread (carpet thread or bonded nylon will do very nicely). Each thread should be approximately twice your own arm's length. Using one of the threads, fold it in half and slip the eye onto the doubled thread. Tie the doubled thread tightly in the middle, so that the eye is caught securely in the knot. Repeat the process using the second thread, so that once both threads have been tied, the eye is secured in the middle and eight threads hang loose.
3. Using an awl, make a hole in the mohair backing where your first eye is to be positioned.
4. Using a sturdy doll maker's needle (in this case I am working on a 20" bear's head, so I am working with an unbendable 10" needle) thread two of the eye threads and insert the needle into the hole you have just made with your awl, exiting at the centre of the head, just above the head joint at the back of your bear's head. Repeat this process with two more threads, so that you have four threads hanging loose from the back of your head.
5. Using the same process, exit the remaining four eye threads on the opposite side of your bear's head, just behind his ear placement. (The ear will cover the finishing knots when it is sewn onto the head). Pull all eight stitches firmly until the eye post fits snuggly into the eye hole.
6. With your thumb to guide the eye into position, use a little pressure to create a 'socket' effect, whilst balancing the head between your knees and pulling on one set of threads from the base of the head. Then take one pair of threads from the base of the head in one hand, and the other pair in your other hand making sure you maintain a firm tension (this sounds tricky, but if you get comfortable it soon becomes an easy process! You may need to tilt the head forwards at this point to see what you are doing) and tie them tightly together, at least three times, to secure.
Tip: try not to catch mohair in the knot, for a professional finish.
8. (At this point I usually repeat steps 2-7 with the second eye, ensuring that both eyes are secured at the base of the head. It is important to ensure you have pulled both eyes back into their sockets equally.) Taking both sets of threads from behind one ear, use tension to determine the final position of your eye. Note: This will raise the eye slightly from its previous position. When you are happy with the positioning, tie threads tightly as for base of head.
9. Repeat process for second eye.
10. Using a curved needle, weave all the remaining threads through the backing fabric several times, making sure you take the needle back into each exit point so that your stitches are invisible, then trim off all excess thread as close to the backing as possible.
11. Give your bear's head a good brush and using embroidery scissors, trim away any excess mohair from his eye area until you can see his beautiful new eyes gazing adoringly right back at you!