We’re very nostalgic people, so it probably comes as no surprise that some of our very favourite DIY projects are the ones that have some sentimental value. Recently, we discovered the idea of making memory bears! These little handmade bears go above and beyond the sentimentality of giving someone a gift that you put in the time and effort to make yourself. They’re also made our of materials that already meant something to you or your loved ones on top of it!
Memory bears do require a little bit of sewing, so they’re a DIY project that’s best for crafters with some experience in seaming. If you’re an avid quilter already then you’re pretty much set, technique-wise! Just in case you’ve never sewn a teddy bear, however, check out this easy tutorial from Hidden Treasure Crafts that will teach you how to make a basic memory bear.
Once you’ve got an idea of the technique, however, how do you decide what to make your bears out of? Here are 15 lovely material ideas to give you a hand!
1. Mom’s scrap fabrics
Was your mom an avid sewer when you were a child, just like you are now? Then we’d be willing to bet that she’s still got a stash lying around the house, even if she no longer has little kids to make brightly patterned outfits for! This Pinterest post suggests raiding your mom’s scrap fabrics to find one that reminds you of something she made you once and sewing your memory bear from that. Alternatively, make your kids memory bears from your own stash using fabric that you once sewed them embarrassing matching outfits out of!
2. Grandpa’s old plaids
Do you love the idea of using a loved one’s old clothing but it’s actually your grandpa that you’d like a reminder of? Then try making a cute memory bear out of his old shirts! We’re particularly fond of the idea of using plaid shirts because they make for a wonderfully visual little bear thanks to their eye catching pattern. Get the details on LottiDottiBoutique!
3. Baby’s hospital blanket
Baby’s hospital blanket is one of the very first things you’ll have seen your child in as you enjoyed your first few moments of life together and, if you ask us, that’s a beatufiul thing worth cherishing. Rather than stashing it away in a closet where it might stay hidden for decades, turn it into something worth snuggling or putting on display! We love this hospital blanket memory bear by A Patch of Love.
4. Sports team jerseys
Does your family have a favourite sports team and, to go with that, a huge abundance of that sports team’s merch? Well, instead of letting it sit in drawers or giving it to a thrift shop where it might not be bought, turn it into a cute bear for your kids! Whether they play with it or set it on their side table, at least it’s one more way to put old jerseys to use and make the kids excited to show their team pride. This idea is also great for kids who play sports on their own teams too! Creative Crafts by Dawn shows you how.
5. Alma Mater t-shirts
Do you have a child graduating college soon and you know that they’ve amassed a huge collection of free college t-shirts that, this close to their graduation, have become worn and warped from so much wear and wash? Then follow in the foosteps of this Pinterest user and turn the logos of those t-shirts into a memory bear as a nostalgic graduation present!
6. Baby’s homecoming onesie
Go Ask Mum has the perfect plan for an old baby onesie. After Baby has grown out of all their snap up rompers, set one aside for crafting before you bag them and give them away. Once you’re sure Baby doesn’t need it anymore, follow the tutorial for turning a onesie into a different kind of memory bear! Because of the shape of the onesie, part of the work is done for you and you’ll have to do a lot less seaming and quilting.
7. Dad’s old uniform
Making It Bearable has an idea that’s perfect for military families! Once Dad has finally worn out that old uniform jacket, turn it into a memory bear that will remind the whole family of the hard work and unity that goes into his job, as well as the contribution that every single member of your family gives in making that possible. it will be wildly meaningful no matter who in the family you give it to.
8. Your favourite old jeans
Have you ever had a favourite pair of jeans that were just far superior to any other pants you’ve owned? We’re talking the kind of jeans that you really went through life wearing. Perhaps they’ve gotten so worn and old that they’re not really fit for nice public places anymore but you’re just not ready to see them go in the trash or the donation bin? Then follow The Life of Stuff’s lead and turn them into a memory bear instead!
9. Kids’ camp shirts
Have your kids been attending the same camp every summer since they were very little and now they’re about to finish their final year before going off to college? Then we think you’ll love Lily’s Love‘s idea for putting all their old camp shirts to use and clearing out some space in the wardrobe at the same time. A memory bear made of camp shirts is a cute way to remember their happy summer days by.
10. Beach towels from the cottage
These little towel bears made by It’s Karla With a K are a little different in design and construction than the rest of the bears on the list, but that’s because the material they’re made from is a little different as well! Instead of classic fabric, you’re working with terry cloth or towel material, making this the perfect project for upcycling all those old beach towels your kids grew up wrapping themselves in at the cottage.
11. An old wedding dress
Most people keep their wedding dresses zipped away in garment bags for years, but every once in a while a dress made of lovely fabric ends up at a thrift shop just begging to be given a new lease on life. Perhaps even your own is calling your name when it comes to DIY? Bear Memories shows you how to make the smoothest, silkiest of memory bears.
12. Prom dress, shirt, or graduation robes
Have you noticed the trend yet? Things that are likely to be worn only once make great memory bears! We agree with Dressek that cute little custom made bears just make a more lovely reminder of the memories that go along with the garments than some of the garments themselves do. A poofy prom dress that’s gone out of style since it was worn is the perfect example.