How to make a memory bear
If you want to sew your own memory bear, or you are starting a business making them, then you really need to know what skills and equipment are needed. I have made hundreds of memory bears now and I have written 6 of my top tips here for you
I have put them in list form so they are easy to read and put into action.
If you are just sitting down to make a memory bear (also known as a keepsake bear or baby clothes bear) or you’re thinking about buying one and you wonder what work went into it… here’s some helpful info to get you started from someone who knows!
1 Choose a great memory bear pattern
Some bear patterns are perfect for making fur teddy bears, whilst some are perfect for making memory bears from clothes.
The patterns I design here at the Messy Stork are specifically designed to look perfect when made from clothing. I wanted a bear that would look perfect made up in adult clothing and would be quick to sew because it didn’t have joints, so I designed my Charlie Bear specifically for this. And I find that baby clothes look lovely when made into a plump bear with rounded features so I designed my Betsy Bear pattern. Betsy is also an unjointed pattern.
If you would prefer joints then either can be easily adapted. Both the Charlie Bear and Betsy Bear patterns can be bought from my shop just CLICK HERE
2. Choose your clothing well
Think about what clothing you want to make your bear from. Is it baby clothes? Or adult clothing? What holds the most important memories for you? If you have a lot of clothes to choose from then think about which items will look good together. Look for items with patterns or colours that match or compliment each other.
See what details you can use from the clothing. This will add character to your bear, whether it is a pocket or buttons, it will enhance the finished appearance of your bear.
3. Use interfacing
Interfacing will stop the clothes that you use stretching when you stuff your bear. A good iron on interfacing will add solidity to the fabric thereby stopping it from creasing or wrinkling whilst still curving to the shape of your bear. A woven cotton interfacing will even cope with the stretch found in baby grows so you can easily make a beautiful bear. I use a fabulous quality interfacing from the Empty Bobbin, number EB8028 – click here to go straight to her shop
4. Draw round your pattern pieces onto your interfacing
Draw around your pattern pieces on to your interfacing, then cut them out leaving approximately a 2cm margin around each piece. From here lay them onto the clothing to plan your bear out – as in step 5 below. Once you are happy with the placement, iron your interfacing onto the wrong side of the fabric and cut the interfacing and fabric out neatly together.
5. Place your pattern pieces wisely
I can’t stress this enough. How you choose to utilise the clothing will 100% affect the look of your finished bear. Spend time thinking which features of the clothes you want to use. If you are mixing clothing, work out what will look best where. So I like to use darker colours on the outside of arms and legs, and lighter on the inner limbs. Ear fronts and paw pads look good when they are of the same or similar colours
Spend time at this stage really considering how things will go together. And remember you will see the front of your bear more than the back so don’t accidentally hide your favourite items by placing them at the back of your bear.
6. Use the right stitch length
When you sew your bear together use a very short stitch length. Otherwise when you stuff your bear the stitches will pull away from the fabric and be visible. Also read the instructions for your machine and choose the right needle for the type of fabric you will be using. The wrong needle can cause skipped threads and other issues.
Bonus tips for how to make a memory bear
Firstly join my makers group on Facebook CLICK HERE they are a lovely warm and supportive community and there are lots of other tips from me in the group too.
If you have read this far and missed the shop link for these sewing patterns CLICK HERE for both Charlie and Betsy Bear.
And to read the second post in this series click here to read How to sew memory bears: 6 more tips