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How to make a stuffed bear: The HowJoyful Bear

I started this project because I wanted to make something really special for our wedding photographers, so as a thank-you present I made two of these stuffed teddy bears for their son and daughter. I was so happy with how they turned out, so I decided to make a tutorial and share my pattern with all of you for FREE!

Oh! And now have a whole category dedicated to nursery and baby projects here.

Remember to scroll all the way to the bottom to download the pattern =]

Now that I actually finished and shipped the teddy bears, I wanted to share how I made them, and since I don't want to just share pictures, I figured it would be the perfect occasion to share a tutorial (My very first one in this blog!!! Eeekk!).

IMPORTANT: This project is NOT for beginners, and if you have never made stuffed animals and are not familiar with patterns. I would recommend you to start with a more simple project and attempt this teddy bear once you have the skills and patience to put together pattern pieces and are familiar with your sewing machine (if you are not fully hand-stitching it).

I first published this post in March 2010, it was my first tutorial ever, so I might not use the correct terms for some things.

I have added extra instruction and updated this post on February 20th, 2012. So hopefully, now it will be a little easier for all of you to follow. I have no extra instructions or images but what I am sharing here. I am unable to give personalized help with this project, Thank you for understanding!

The story behind the HowJoyful Bear

I first created this pattern while in high school, we had a sewing class that taught us the basics of making patterns and while everyone else started making pillows, I decided to venture a little further and made this one.

Granted when I first made it, it looked a little rough around the edges (literally and figuratively)

When I started thinking about a gift for our wedding photographers this bear came back to my mind, I had brought with me my little “crafty notebook” and I was so happy that I still had it!

So, I made a tester and changed some things here and there, and the HowJoyful Teddy bear was born!!

So gather your materials and get ready to make your very own teddy bear! =)

You will notice that the ones I made and are pictured here have little modifications in the back, that's because I didn't want them to just be toy bears.

I wanted them to play AND also be useful, so I added straps and a back zipper to make it a backpack and a little butt pocket to make it pajama storage (the brown)

For this tutorial, since the pattern is complicated as it is, I am going to share just the basic way to make them.

One cool thing is that you can use this pattern to make a memory bear, just select a piece of clothing from your loved one and make a bear that will always remind you of them.

Or use your kid's old pajamas and have a little token of when they were little!

Material List

  1. One yard of fabric for the body (I used cream color fleece, you can use normal hairy fur fabric too, I used fleece because these are for a little boy and a little girl, so I wanted the bears to be as soft as possible)
  2. 1/2 yard of fabric for the color details (I used light brown)
  3. One set of animal eyes 18mm
  4. a small piece of felt for the nose (you can use felt for the eyes too if gifting it to a baby- for safety reasons)
  5. Stuffing material (I used polyester filling)
  6. Sewing machine or thread and needle for hand-stitching

⇊ Scroll all the way to the bottom to download the pattern ⇊

The teddy bear making-process

Before you start you need to print the pattern (the link is above), I printed my pattern and then glue it to cardboard (before cutting each piece out) so that way the process of tracing to the fabric (and making more bears) can be easier.

First, you need to trace all of your pieces on the fabric. Cut out all pieces adding a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Note: If you are doing a two-toned bear, as shown, you will need contrasting fabric and these pieces will be used:

  • #1 (ear, 2 only),
  • #2 (forehead),
  • #4 (mouth),
  • #8 (arm front, hand)
  • #15 (feet bottom).

For all of those pieces that say you need “2, 1 reverse” after tracing the front, turn the pattern and trace the second piece. Cut out the pattern and pin it onto your fabric. When only one piece is necessary (#2, forehead, and #4 mouth) place the pattern on the right side of the fabric.

Teddy head assembly

Pieces #1-5

  • Sew ear (contrasting) pieces (#1) right sides together, leaving a straight portion open. Turn right side out.
  • Sew forehead (#2) and side head (#3) together making sure ears are in place (A2), see the picture.
  • Attach mouth (#4) to forehead piece matching “B” and center.
  • Sew mouth center seam to close.
  • Sew center seam of the back of the head (#5).
  • Attach head back to front making sure ears are pinned in place (A1) and the center of forehead matches the center seam.
  • Turn head right side out

I recommend starting with the ears, once you have them done attach them to the front and side part of the face.

Repeat and make sure the color of the ears is on the inside part.

After attaching the back, proceed to sew the mouth, first to the headpiece, and after that sew the front.

Front body assembly

Pieces #6-10

  • Sew belly (#6) center seam.
  • Attach hand front (#7) to arm front #(8)
  • Attach leg top (#9) to foot top (#10)
  • Connect leg and arm pieces to belly according to letters on the pattern, making sure the outside edge of the leg is on the outside (this can be an easy mistake).

Then sew the body as marked on the pattern.

Sew the arms before attaching to the body, then pin the parts to make sure everything fits properly.

Back body assembly

Pieces #11-14

  • Sew tail (#11), right sides together, leaving a straight portion open. Turn right side out.
  • Sew back (#12) center seam with tail in place.
  • Sew bottom leg (#13) center seam together from point S to K.
  • Attach bottom leg to back, matching letters on the pattern.
  • Attach arm back (#14) to back (#12), matching letters on the pattern.
  • Sew your front piece to the back piece leaving the neck open and feet open.

Attach feet bottoms (#15) to leg openings, matching points Q and R to leg seams. Turn bear right side out.

Make sure you assemble the tail and place it before closing the back.

For the feet repeat the process and pin all the pieces together before sewing, sometimes it can be an overflow of fabric in this area depending on the kind of fabric you are using.

The body of your Teddy Bear is done!

Finish face details

  • Attach eyes.
  • Cut a nose out of felt, put it in place and hand sew all around.
  • Fold mouth as shown, pin and tack into place.
  • Hand-sew the head to the body with an invisible seam.

Proceed to attach the eyes, and pin the mouth to stitch it together. If you are giving this to a baby, I would suggest you either embroider the eyes and nose or use fabric patches, the plastic eyes can come undid and become dangerous.

I folded the very bottom of the mouth to shape a lip and then made two stitches on each side (The same place the pin is)

After that, mark his nose with a stitch from the lips to the nose, this is how the inside looks like after being done.

For mines, I used a piece of felt to shape the nose, sew all the way around and your Teddy Bear’s face is done.

Sew the head and the body together

What I did was, I sewed the back of the neck and the back of the head first.
I place them with the wrong sides to the outside (before stuffing, so you can fold them inside out easily) and sew all the back of the head to the back body piece.
Then turned the bear inside out (right side facing out) stuff the bear and hand-sew the rest trying to make the stitch as hidden as possible.

If you finish without any trouble, pad yourself on the back! Because YOU ROCK!

The finished Teddy Bear is about 16″ inches tall (From his bottom to his ears), so if you need it to be bigger or smaller you can enlarge or scale down the pattern =]


Some of the best hints I can share:

  1. Each pattern piece is labeled with a letter (and in some cases with a letter and number), so take each step in alphabetical/numerical order. As the instructions state, start with the ear first, this is a pattern piece “A”.
  2. Keep your pattern pieces handy, so you can refer to them for placement during the process.
  3. Different parts need to be attached to each other, so letters need to be matched up together.
  4. If you already cut your pieces without adding seam allowance, it's not a big deal, it will just be a tiny bit smaller.
  5. If you want to make a smaller or bigger bear, use a copy machine to make the pattern bigger or smaller, magic!! =]
  6. Are you using a sewing machine? If you are, then know that some of the sewing involved will be too hard to do on the machine and will need to be hand-stitched. With sewing experience, you will know when this is necessary.
  7. This is NOT a beginner project so in order to avoid the frustration, try something easier before attempting this =]

For the Bears I made for our photographer's babies, I changed the pattern a little bit and made different backs.

So, that they could use their bears as a backpack for the little girl, and for stuff pajamas for the little boy =] I am super happy with how they end up, so I just hope they like it as much as I do!

I decided to make a pink one with ribbon strings that work as handles to be a backpack and the brown has buttons that make a pouch for the pajamas =]





The pattern is a PDF file, the link goes directly to Dropbox, but you don't need an account to view it, you will need Adobe Reader or a similar program once the file is downloaded.

Hope you enjoy this project! It’s very fun!


Saturday 14th of May 2011

Hello there, I have decided to close the comments on this post. I have added extra instruction and updated this post Feb 20th 2012. So hopefully now it will be easier for all of you to follow. I have no extra instructions or images but what I am sharing here and I am unable to give personalized help with this project, as I stated on the post this is not an easy or beginner project, so start with something smaller and easier, then once you have more experience upgrade to this teddy bear, Thank you for understanding! =]

Keyth Sokol

Monday 25th of April 2011

I'd love to see others' bears. If you post pictures please link to them. My nake is a hyperlink so you can see mine in Flickr.

Graziela Bravo

Friday 22nd of April 2011

Oi,sou do Brasil e amei, o seu ursinho, vou me animar para fazê-lo bjs carinhosos.

Keyth Sokol

Friday 22nd of April 2011

I am on my third and fourth bear. Second one has a lighter brown than he first. But the third and fourth are in primary colors! I love this bear!


Sunday 22nd of May 2011

I am so happy you have made so many of them =] I'd love to see them if you have a chance, have a lovely day!


Monday 18th of April 2011

Thank you for this beautiful Teddy Bear Pattern I'm Excited to start it I'll post photos of him when I'm finished.

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