Bear Clan Totem Pole Vest

Bear Clan Totem Pole Vest
Bear Clan Totem Pole Vest

The Totem Pole is a very imortant part of the culture of the Indians in the Pacific Northwest. This Totem pole honors the Bear, a very strong and powerful animal. The bottom Bear is reared up in a guard position. Sitting above him is yet another Bear on watch. At the very top of the Totem Pole perches the all-seeing Raven. Each seems more watchful when embellished with the double button eyes. And, no, they do not hurt when you wear the vest! You'll be able to see where you've been!

  • Vest Pattern of your choice. Sharon used her own pattern #DBPO12
  • 1-1/4 yds. each of Vest Fabric, lining fabric and flannel for interlining
  • 3 buttons (JNBH #80543 - Totem Pole)
  • Thread for construction
  • 1 Fat Quarter each of four colors for the Bear Fetish and Totem Pole Designs
  • Sulky 30 wt. Rayon Threads to match four colors above
  • Sulky 30 wt. Rayon Threads to topstitch vest
  • Sulky Bobbin Thread
  • Sulky KK 2000 Temporary Spray Adhesive
  • Sulky Tear-Easy and Totally Stable Stabilizers
  • Buttons & Beads for embellishing the design: 8 to 10 JHB #42650 1/2" white shirt buttons, 12 to 14 JHB #47376 1/8" black Barbie buttons, 4 JBH #70314 pearl bird-shaped buttons, beads for embellishment of Bear Fetish - optional
Note: Prewash all fabrics to avoid disappointments due to colors running or fabric shrinkage.
Prepare to Applique

Using a vest pattern of your choice, spray it with Sulky KK 2000 to hold the pattern in place while you cut out the vest, lining and interlining. Press all pieces. Use a light spray of KK 2000 to temporarily "tack" the vest fabric onto the flannel interlining.

Trace all of the design elements onto Totally Stable. Rough-cut the Totally Stable pattern and iron it onto the appropriate fabric, or trace onto any paper and use KK 2000 to hold it in place while tracing and cutting. Use the pattern pieces to cut out the Bear Clan Totem Pole and the Bear Fetishes from the design fabrics; also prepare a totem Pole for the lining back of the vest to add a bit of surprise in the garment. Lightly spray the wrong side of the design fabric peices with KK 2000.

(If you want to fuse them permanently, use a fusible web.) Center the Totem Pole pieces on the vest back. When placing the Totem Pole on the lining, to stabilize it, spray KK 2000 on a piece of Tear-Easy and place it on the wrong side of the lining.



To give more of a hand-done look, lengthen the width and length of a Blanket Stitch or a Zig-Zag Stitch, and outline the design through both layers of fabric. To make a heavier look to your stitch, use either Sulky 30 wt., two strands of 40 wt., or Sulky 35 wt. UltraTwist. Use Sulky Bobbin Thread in the bobbin and lower the top tension slightly so the Bobbin Thread does not show.

Beads & Buttons Embellishments

If you decided to add the "surprise" on the lining back, take parts of the Totem Pole design and create your own Totem Pole surprise; embellish with stitching and buttons.

The Bear Fetishes may be embellished with the Mountain Design and the Bird on its shoulder. An interesting option would be to "tie" the bird onto the Bear with a string of small beads. As you hand sew the "string" into place, be sure to secure the beads every three or four beads by taking a stitch into the Bear Fabric. Make frequesnt knots as you work to secure the beads. Don't forget to give the Bear an eye so he can see his way. The tiny black button (#47376) gives the Bear a very shiny black eye.

Assemble The Vest

Assemble the Vest and its lining according to the Vest Pattern directions. Press well. Use either Sulky 30 wt. Rayon or 35 wt. UltraTwist to add top-stitching either by hand or by machine. You may want to finish off the shoulders with fabric triangles in a row along the seam line, using the same fabric used in the totem poles and the bear fetishes. Stitch thriough all layers of fabrics and see what you what to add to the look.

Using a 30 wt. Sulky Rayon, Sharon hand-quilted a topstitch about 3/8" from all edges.

Try using this "Design from the Berry Patch" on a sweatshirt or a ready-made garment.


For the patterns we are providing them as downloads from the browser below. You may click each image and then print the pattern that appears or you may save the images to your local hard drive.

The patterns are scaled to fit on an 8-1/2" X 11" piece of paper, though they might have to be rotated. If you wish to use a larger size, you can scale them up appropriately in your print dialog box or print them out as provided and enlarge them by some other means (copy machine, projector, local blueprint shop etc). 

If you wish to save to your hard drive proceed as follows: 

PC users - right click on each image and select "save this image as..." in the pop up menu. 

Mac users - control click to bring up the popoup menu and then select "save this image as...".