So, I’m just gonna start this off by saying, if you’ve found this post on Pinterest you probably wanna skip a few paragraphs and get right into where I talk about the memory bears. The first few paragraphs are going to be me talking about why I made memory bears.
Last year we lost my aunt. She had a near-decade long battle with cancer before it took her from us. My aunt was an amazing woman that gave a lot and expected very little in return. She was very proud of her Scottish heritage, and always kept up with what was going on with our family over the pond. Actually, the material I made the memory bears from is tartan that she’d bought around 20 years ago. But hadn’t ever gotten around to using it. I wonder what she would have made with it, maybe kilts? Before she passed away, she was able to see Scotland one last time, and I’m so happy that she was able to.
Grief is a strange thing. It is so different from when you are a kid experiencing loss for the first time, to an adult who has experienced a few losses. It’s strange because you feel sad, and angry, and (in the case of terminal illnesses) relieved. And you tend to think about if things had gone differently. The past year has been so strange because I’ve had days where I don’t think about her at all, to days where I can’t stop thinking about her. There are days where she passes through my mind and leaves me with a smile, or some days with tears.
Sometimes when I’m talking to my daughter I’ll notice myself using mannerisms that she had. Like, when she was cheeky she would enunciate and draw out the last word in the sentence. I think about when I was a kid, under her china cabinet there was a shoebox full of wind up toys that she kept for whenever we would visit. Every time I would visit she would offer me exactly one glass of pop. I was always excited because I didn’t drink pop that much. When I was a little bit older, she moved a few blocks away from my house and we saw her much more often.
There was always that weird barrier for me because as a kid I never knew what to talk to the grown-ups about, so often I just silently enjoyed her company, or ran off to play video games. I think about if I could turn back the clock and just… talk to her more. Near the end of her life, I felt monstrous because I never knew what to say. She was always weak, always in pain, always going through procedures, chemo, radiation… I didn’t want to ask her how she was. It obviously wasn’t well. I didn’t want to ask her what was going on in her life because I knew about all of the procedures. I guess I was worried that making her think about it would bring her down more or something, but now I wonder if it was worse of me not to talk at all.
After she passed, I looked inwardly at myself a lot, and I felt like a pretty crummy niece. I could have done so much more, I should have visited her more, after all, she lived so close. So, I guess these memory bears are part tribute, part apology for not being a better niece. She helped me learn how to sew, so it is kind of fitting that I sew these in her memory. I’ve made the bears to give to all the new children in the family, some who she never had the chance to meet, and my own who she never got to see grow up. And one for her husband, who loves her so much (I say loves instead of loved because when someone passes it doesn’t mean you stop loving them). They were made for each other and it breaks my heart to see my uncle without her.
What most of you are probably here for!
For my memory bears, I used the Simple Bear pattern. I chose this because an expert seamstress I am not. I am only moderately decent at sewing, and I needed to pound out 4 of these in a week (With only nap times and bedtimes to work during, and of course my kid was sick so naps and bedtimes were not working with me). It’s a nice simple pattern that a beginner at sewing wouldn’t find too difficult.
A few notes about it:
- This pattern recommends a fuzzy/furry fabric, but regular fabric is fine.
- The two lines in the back are where the stuffing hole is
- I didn’t find much point in tying off the head. I found it made the fabric bunch.
- The ears came out less circular than some might like, so if you want nice round ears, you should alter the pattern.
- The pattern doesn’t come with a tutorial for a bow tie, but it’s really simple to make with your leftover scraps.
- Old pillows you want to get rid of are great for new stuffing! In a pinch? Laundry lint works too.
- If you find that the arms and legs look bunchy, cut the fabric closer to the seam. It looks weird because there’s too much stuff there for it to lay properly.
For the most part, the pattern instructions tell you what to do. I skipped stitching the arms and legs because I wanted more stiff bears.
For making bowties, I’ve made a diagram below! I haven’t listed any measurements because depending on how full you stuff your bear or how close you sew to the seams, the width would be different, see for yourself what feels right and just use my diagram as a guideline.
Have you guys made memory bears before? Are you going to try this one out? Let me know how it goes and leave me your thoughts in the comments!