Saturday, May 17, 2014

Converting a JOINTED artist bear pattern to an UNJOINTED one: FREE PHOTO TUTORIAL

We've had a few requests lately about releasing a pattern for an un-jointed bear (of which we are currently working on), but I also wanted to share with you another option for converting the jointed-bear patterns you already have into unjointed ones in a few simple steps.

STEP ONE: draw out your pattern as per usual, but mark the 'joint position' on the innner arm and leg piece. It's kind of ironic that in marking out an un-jointed bear you need to use a wooden joint disc to do so - so if you don't have one, you could just make up a little cardboard template to use instead. You basically just want to mark out the spot where the joint would have sat normally (positioned in the top-centre of the limb), and at about the same size of joint-disc you would normally have used (allowing enough edge fabric for sewing the seams).

STEP TWO - repeat this process with the body. For patterns where the arm/leg positions are already marked, you should be able to get away with just centering the disc or disc template over this mark and drawing the circle. Because I dont usually mark and limb-joint positions on the body until the bear is sewn/turned (when I'm making a traditional jointed bear), I didn't have joint-position markings to work with. So I simply placed the arms and legs where they would need to sit, then replaced my disc in that position to trace around it - as you can see in the three photos below. (Again making sure to leave space for sewing seam allowances).

STEP THREE: Cut out the circles marked on the body, as shown below.

STEP FOUR: Lay the cut-out body piece over the opposite body-side piece and drawn around the shapes. This will give you the best possible chance of having both sides of the body symmetrical.

STEP FIVE: Cut out the other body-side's circles.

STEP SIX: Also cut out the circles on the inner parts of the arms and legs. Pin the arms and legs together as you normally would when making a jointed bear. The only difference when sewing the arms and legs is that this time you won't need to leave a seam opening at the back of each limb. You will turn the limb right-side-out through the disc-hole! (At the end of this process you will only have the seam on the bear's back to close, not FIVE seams to close! Hurray!).

STEP SEVEN: Make markings to help you align the limbs correctly with the body for pinning. Because your bear will not be able to move his legs, you will want to align them in the sitting-position. You can see my green markings in the photo below. (Place the markings while the limb is still un-turned).

STEP EIGHT: Turn the leg right-side-out and align the markings you've made on both limb and body. Pin all the way around the cut-out circles making sure to tuck the fur out of the way of the seam (or trim the seam allowance it if it's really long/bulky).

STEP NINE: Repeat this process with the arms, making sure that you mark the alignment that you want. For this bear I wanted the arms to be positioned down by the bears side, so I made my marks to suit. If you wanted the bear to have it's arms reaching up - then you would change your alignment marks accordingly.

STEP TEN: You should now have a half-body that looks like this, with one arm and one leg pinned in place. Repeat steps seven, eight and nine for the other side of the body and the remaining leg and arm.

STEP ELEVEN: You should be able to see your bear taking shape. You now need to sew around the circles to secure each limb to the body. For a larger bear this can be done on a sewing machine with a bit of skill, but for smaller bears you will most likely want to hand-sew this bit as it can be fiddly.

STEP TWELVE: Once the limbs are sewn to the body you will need to pin the right sides of the body pieces together but because you have arms and legs attached to the body-sides, it will proove quite difficult. You need to pull the arms and legs back through the circles to give you enough space to pin and sew the body together (see photo below).

You need to leave the usual opening on the small of the bears back for turning him right-side-out, and also an opening at the top of the neck for attaching the head. (If you would prefer to joint the head, you can follow the same process as per usual for jointed bears and not leave this big neck opening on the body piece).

If you are sewing the head in place (making the bear fully-unjointed), you need to mark out how much of an opening to allow yourself by flattening the base of the bear's neck and marking the 'to-be-left-open' position on the body. This particular pattern works quite well as we've left a naturally flatter spot in the body design anyways. (This pattern is our 20" tall 'ALIVEA' bear pattern if you're curious).

Sew the body leaving the openings you require.

STEP THIRTEEN: To sew your bear's head to the body without using a joint, you will need to make alignment marks just like we did with the arms and legs. Mark the centre of the back of the head gusset, and use the chin-seam as the front alignment mark.

STEP FOURTEEN: Pin the head to the body. Sew securely in place.

STEP FIFTEEN: Turn the bear right-side out through the seam opening you left in the back. You will now be able to stuff the entire bear (head, arms, legs and belly) through this one opening. Add any bead-weights or growlers now.

STEP SIXTEEN: Close the seam on the bear's back, and finish the facial details as per normal with a regular jointed bear (sew the ears in place, set the eyes and embroider the nose).

You will now have a very cute, and totally cuddly un-jointed bear to love!

This technique of converting a jointed bear pattern to an unjointed one is probably most useful if you're wanting to make a bear for a small child/baby. In this case you will also want to avoid using any bead-weight stuffing and will want to insert plastic safety eyes rather then the glass ones. Just make sure you set the safety eyes BEFORE you start stuffing!

We have this gorgeous bear 'Harmony' available for adoption at the moment as well.

 Or if you were really inspired, we also have a kit for Harmony in our etsy store. It includes the 20" Alivea pattern (the exact same one as used here), the 1/2m piece of faux fur (we used 'Golden Peacock' for Harmony bear, but you could choose any faux fur from our store), the 14mm black glass eyes, the nose thread, the paw pad faux suede AND the pink glass lampwork pendant.


  1. Harmony is beautiful! I'm amazed by the way you created the unjointed bear. Thanks for the tutorial.