Yay, we've finally reached the point where TBB II will look like a bear!
The first step in the final assembly is to deal with the head joint. Now unlike the other joints, the head joint is not accessible at both ends, so I arm myself with the superglue for the next step! Firstly I glue the washer to the joint disc and allow that to dry before I glue the bolt to the washer:
Once this is dry, I then insert it into the head, and stitch the opening closed using topstitch thread. I work my way round with a running stitch to start with, and finally create a kind of mesh of stitches across the head on either side of the bolt.
Now remember those eye threads? It's finally time to tie them off! Because of where my threads come out, they should now be mostly under the joint disc, and I use this to help the tension when tying off the eye thread. I also use a surgeon's knot to tie off the threads, before sewing the ends into the underside of the joint. The head is always the first bit I attach to the body, as I use it as point of reference for where other things will go. This is the only joint that I don't normally use lock nuts for, as I have a slight fear of the superglue giving way when I'm screwing the nut on, so I use two regular nuts instead, which does the same job, however for the tiny bolts on this guy I don't have small enough regular nuts, so I dolloped on the superglue and it held okay.
Next it's time to add the legs, so I hold the bear by the neck joint and hold one of the legs up alongside until I find an optimum point for it to joint on, taking care to avoid the dart in the body (yes, I know this doesn't sound terribly technical, bear with me...) Using my bradawl, I mark where the bolt for the joint is going to go in. Now I grab my tape measure and measure down to the centre seam. Measure the same distance up the other side, I then use the bradawl to mark that:
Here I grab a couple of spare bolts, and use them to go from the inside of the marked joint holes on the body piece, and hold the discs in place on that side. I do this because the next step is to trim the fur that would be between the discs on the joint to allow them to get nice and tight. Using the sharp pointed scissors from before, trim back all the fur that you can feel above the disc on both the body and the leg pieces:
Now I remove the bolts from the inside of the body, insert the bolt from the joint attached to one of the legs and using a lock nut, screw it into place until it's nice and tight. I like my limbs to move, but not too freely, because I want my bears to be able to stand. I usually do the lock nuts up tightly then unwind a couple of turns. Then, repeat with the other leg, before moving on to the arms. The arms are judged for placement in the same way as the legs, and attached in the same way.
Now there's quite a few things to go in the tummy of this bear, so the first layer I put in is stuffing, which I especially use to cover the ends of the bolts. Next I add some glass sand in the same way I added the steel shot to the legs. I use glass sand in the body because it's finer, and even though I'm going to surround this with more stuffing, just in case there's any movement inside, I don't want a hard spot on the bear! A light layer of stuffing goes over the sand, and then on a larger bear, it's time for the growler, which goes in another pop sock to put it in to protect the inner workings from any stuffing getting into it, and then more stuffing surrounds it. In the end the growler I ordered for this wee guy, although the smallest size, was just a bit too big for him, so you'll have to imagine him growling :o) Without the growler, I finish adding stuffing until the entire body is full, then top up all the limbs with stuffing until they are also full.
Finally it's time to ladder stitch all the seam openings closed, remove all the tacking stitches and give the whole bear a good fluff.
His new family have chosen a red ribbon for his bow, so I shall get some tomorrow, and then he'll sit patiently waiting to be collected.