How to make an unjointed bear jointed
My Charlie Bear and Betsy Bear were both created to look as if they are jointed bears, whist being much faster to sew as the limbs are actually sewn in. However, if you would prefer for your bear’s arms and legs to be moveable it is easy enough to convert the patterns using button joints as explained below.
Here’s how to convert your pattern pieces:
Charlie Bear and Betsy Bear have their limbs sewn into their bodies by having a hole cut in their inner arms and legs that is laid over and sewn onto holes in their side seams.
Therefore to make these bears jointed instead you need to firstly ignore the hole shown on the original pattern pieces at the top of the arm and the leg (see pic 1) where the holes are crossed out. And secondly redraw their side seams without the holes so the sides of the bear pattern pieces are a smooth continuous line (see pics 2 and 3).
Prepare all other elements for your bear as per the original pattern.
And, here’s how to sew your bear:
Sewing the body
1 – Sew the 2 tummy pieces together from top to bottom. On Charlie this is A to B, on Betsy this is M to N
2 – Stitch the row of guide stitches at the top of each back piece. On Charlie this is Z to the neck seam, on Betsy this is Q to R
3 – Next stitch the 2 back pieces together at the base. On Charlie this is C to D, on Betsy this is O to P
4 –Stitch the stomach and back pieces together, right sides together, at the side seams. To get a nice neat join where the stomach and back central seams meet nest the seams
5 – Sew your bear’s head together and attach it to the body following the original pattern instructions
1 – When you cut out the limbs do not cut out the holes. Sew the arms, in pairs right side to right side, leave a 3cm gap in the stitching at the back of the arm for turning and stuffing.
2 – Sew the legs right sides together in pairs right side to right side, leave a 3cm gap in the stitching underneath the leg for turning and stuffing.
3 – Attach the paw pads
How to make button joints
1 – I have tried making button joints using upholstery thread and found it got tangled up. I know some people use embroidery floss. However after some experimenting I found that the least tangle-y and strongest thread to use isn’t thread at all. It is dental tape. I know it sounds strange, but it is actually just a super strong plastic thread.
2 – Start by pinning the buttons in place on the external side of the arms, and put pins on the inside side of the arms directly opposite the button holes. Check the buttons are the same height on each arm, and the pins are the same height on the insides too. This will avoid your finished bear looking unbalanced.
Then do the same for the legs and their buttons (all of the next set of photos are taken from my Edgar Elephant tutorial, the method is the same). These pins on the inside of the arms and legs will help you with step 3 and step 4.
3 – Next plan where the tape will enter and leave your bear’s body. Hold the arms where you would like them to go, then hold each arm a little away from your bear and push a pin into the side seam level with the pin on the inside of the arm. These are your marker pins. Once you have placed a marker pin on each side of the bear’s body rest the arms inner pins on the body’s pins and check the arms are even and look the right height.
4 – Then repeat these steps to plan where the legs will go.
5 – Cut a 250cm length of dental tape. Thread it through the doll needle and tie the ends together. You are going to attach the legs first. Pin the tied end near one of your bear’s paws to anchor it. You will be working with doubled up tape throughout.
Throughout the process of attaching the limbs to the body try to keep your tape even. So pull on both the pieces of the doubled up tape evenly and check they are both staying even at every stage of the process. If you don’t do this you could have a big length of bulging tape at the end and not know which piece to pull on to tidy it up!
6 – On the limb you have anchored your tape to, push the needle into the inside side of the leg where the pin is
and bring your needle out through one of the button holes on the external side of the leg, then go back in through the other hole of the button, and back in through the leg. Make sure your needle comes out of the inside of the leg at the exact same point where it entered.
7 – Next push the needle through your bear’s body going in by your marker pin and coming out by the marker pin the other side. Pull almost all your excess tape through. Check yout tape is still even.
8 – Push the needle into the second leg. Again go in through the inside side of the leg at the point marked by your pin and come out through one of the button holes on the external side of the leg, then go back in through the other hole of the button. Check your needle comes out of the inside of the leg at the exact same point where it entered.
9 – Push your needle back through the body again entering at exactly the point you exited, and direct the needle so it leaves the body where it first entered. This is one full circumference.
10 – Repeat the circumference again so – through the 1st leg -through the button holes – through the leg – through the body – in and out the other leg and button – and back through the body…
11 – Then unpin your tied end and pull on both ends of your dental tape until the legs are nice and close to the body. They will loosen up with time so make them really tight to begin with. Tie the tape neatly under the bear’s leg and cut off the loose ends. Dental tape may leave a bit of residue behind. Just dust this off with a dry cloth
12 – Repeat all these steps to attach the arms to the body. Here is a diagram of one circumference.
Your jointed Charlie or Betsy Bear is now complete!