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Day 160

Updated: Jun 26, 2019

Here’s how my mom and I made memorial teddy bears. They are a keepsake created from my late daughter’s, Constance’s, clothes. If you or someone you care about is grieving, I hope this can help them. It helped me.

Instructions for Making a Memorial Teddy Bear

By Rachelle Jervis, Constance’s Mom

Rules of engagement:

Rule 1: Listen to your mind.

  • As you work on this project, check in with yourself regularly. If this doesn’t feel right and you need to ask for help or stop, you should do so. Take care of yourself. Your mental health is your most important responsibility.

Rule 2: Listen to your body.

  • After that comes your physical health. Making yourself supper doesn’t prove your grief or lesson your loss. Respect your body.

Rule 3: Ask for help.

  • Ask for help if you need or want it. This project is sophisticated. I am an experienced sewer and crafter. I’ve made stuffed animals before, including ones from my late daughter’s clothes. Still, I knew I wanted and would enjoy the help of my mom. I asked her for it in advance and we arranged time to work on it.

  • If you have questions or need support from me, feel free to use the contact form below.

Rule 4: Pace yourself.

  • My mom and I took breaks to eat at four restaurants, went to Jo-Ann Fabrics twice (their app has awesome coupons, btw), and exercised each morning. Like life, it’s not a race. Take care of yourself.

Rule 5: Hug it out.

  • If you need a hug, ask for one. If you’re giving a hug don’t do that annoying cooties hug that fighting siblings do when forced to hug and make up. Really hug.


  1. Clothes from the person who passed (for the fabric of the teddy bear)

  2. Sewing machine or needle and a lot of time

  3. Thread that matches the clothes’ fabric

  4. Seam ripper

  5. Straight pins

  6. Recorder - Inventiv 30-Second Voice Sound Recorder Module for Plush Toy, Stuffed Teddy bear

  7. Embroidery floss in black

  8. Needles for embroidery

  9. Animal eyes in black, blue, brown, hazel, green, or whatever you'd like. - Constance had blue eyes so that's what I picked.

  10. Animal noses in black, 18 or 21 mm 

  11. Fabric Scissors - Fiskars are fantastic – Always keep scissors out of the reach of children. I have the stitches to prove these aren’t for kids. They are exceptionally sharp and effective. Think of them as an industrial tool.

  12. Standard paper scissors for cutting out the pattern

  13. Marker with a blunt bottom

  14. Dritz 5/8” Fold-Over Elastic in white with a flat texture

  15. Bear pattern - Use mine or select another

  16. Poly-fil premium fiber fill bag

  17. Pencil

  18. Needle threader (Optional)

  19. Poly-pellets (Optional)

Steps to Make the Memorial Bear

Step 1: Turn Clothes into Fabric


Select large pieces of clothes from the person who passed.

You may choose to select something that holds particular sentimental value for you.

The clothing tag will tell you the type of fabric. Plush, cotton, jeans, and many other fabrics will work if they aren’t too stretchy, uneven, thin, or transparent.


Turn the clothes inside out and cut it apart at the seam.

Lay it out flat with the inside up. If it needs to be ironed to lay flat, do so now.

Step 2: Cut out the pattern.

Do not use your fabric scissors on paper or you will dull them.

You can use my pattern or select another.

Step 3: Pin the pattern to the inside of the flat fabric.

That means that the outside of the clothes should face the table/cutting board while the top you see is the inside of the clothes. Then place the pattern on it and pin it in place with straight pins.

Typically, when sewing from a bolt of measured fabric, you would make sure that any patterns, such as lines, line up so that when the bear comes together they match. This is unlikely to be possible when attempting to make a bear from baby or young children’s clothes.

Step 4: Carefully cut out the pattern in the fabric.

Go slowly to avoid injury or other unfortunate mistakes.

Step 5: Stitch your tag.

The tag material is the Dritz 5/8” Fold-Over Elastic in white with a flat texture. Elastic with ridges will make for poor, illegible writing. It is possible to use some ribbons as a substitute; however, ribbons pull when they’re pricked by a needle so it is not a good idea.

Plan what you want to stitch. I did Constance’s birth and death dates. On a big bear, I also added a second tag, which had her name. Write out what you are going to sew so you can concentrate on one character at a time.

There are two ways to sew it: by hand or by machine.

Machine sewing:

If you have a sewing machine that can stitch numbers and letters, you can use that with standard thread. Sew slowly. Most machines that have a preprogrammed alphabet are programmed so that when you press down on the pedal after selecting the character, it will automatically stop after sewing it. Then you ease back up so that you’re not pressing the pedal. You then enter the next character and press and hold to sew that one. That pattern repeats. Many sewing machine manufacturers have simple how-to videos on their websites if that might be helpful.

Hand sewing:

If you are going to sew by hand, then I recommend using embroidery thread and an embroidery needle. You should carefully draw in pencil the characters that you want before you begin.

When you sew with silk floss, you do not double the thread. Your knot should be at the end of one end only.

Step 6: Make your recording.

The recording you make will play when you push on the bear’s stomach. Here are some sounds and sources that might inspire you:

Prenatal recording of their heartbeat

The sound of them laughing (from a video on your computer, phone, or social media)

The sound of them speaking saying something they said often or particularly meaningful like, “I love you.”

I did this for the bears I made to memorialize Constance.

The Inventiv 30-Second Voice Sound Recorder Module for Plush Toy Stuffed Teddy Bear is simple to use. It comes equipped with a battery.

Steps to making your recording:

   1. You flip the switch on the heart to R for record.

   2. Press the recorder so that the two pieces smoosh together, making it thinner, and hold it.

   3. Please play on the sound you’re recording while continuing to hold the recorder.

   4. When the sound is done or your 30 seconds are up, whichever happens first, you stop pressing the heart.

   5. Move the switch to P for play.

To test that the recording was successful, press it down again. You should hear the original sound.

Don’t freak out if it didn’t work. Simply flip the switch back to R again and try once more. The most common mistake is pressing the recorder down like a button you’re clicking instead of holding it down for the duration of the recording/30 seconds.

Step 7: Pin your bear together.

Making sure that the outside of the clothes are all on the same side. Make sure to lift up the tabs carefully.

Put the inside of the clothes on the outside of the pinning. This is because you will flip the bear inside-out once you’re done sewing it.

Step 8: Pin in place the tag.

Fold the tag in half.

Then place it where you’d like in the back of the bear. It should be somewhere in the back or toward the bottom of the back. Putting it anywhere else can interfere with your bear’s ability to sit and play properly.

As you pin the halved tag into place, make sure that it will be seen outside the bear when it is flipped around.


If you haven’t taken an extended break by now please take one. Stretch and breathe, allowing your body to move a little.

Step 9: Carefully start to sew the bear together, leaving a hole large enough to stick your hand in at the back.

The tag should be sewn to where you stop your stitch line for the hole.

If you are sewing by machine, go at the slowest speed.

Don’t worry if you made a mistake. Your imperfection makes you approachable. ;) Simply get out that seam ripper and let it do what it was made for.

Step 10: Turn the bear outside-in so that the seams are on the inside and inspect your work.

Don’t worry if something needs to be restitched. Just flip it around and do what needs to be done.

Step 11: Add the eyes.

Determine where you want the eyes on your bear and draw marks with your pencil. Then with your scissors or seam ripper make a very small hole for each eye.

Depending on the eyes you purchase, instructions will be on the package. Install them carefully. They will screw or snapped closed in the back with a clear or white washer.

Step 12: Add the nose.

The nose should be in the middle of the face. You should make a small hole with your scissors or seam ripper. Depending on the nose you purchased, instructions will be on the package. Some require that you screw in the back and others to snap it closed.

Step 13: Optional: If you want a mouth on your bear, you can add one.

First, take the pencil and draw what you’d like your mouth to look like. Most teddy bears have a smile that begins with a line down from the nose and then turns out in a “J” in both directions.

Stitch the mouth with embroidery floss in an embroidery needle.

Step 14: Put fill in arms and legs.

Put Poly-fil Premium Fiber Fill Bag in the arms and legs. Push the fill in the arms and legs using the blunt back of a marker. They should be filled to the point of being firm but not straining your stitches.

Step 15: Put fill in the head.

Put Poly-fil Premium Fiber Fill Bag in the bear’s head and neck.

Step 16: Put a small amount of fill in front of the chest.

Put a very thin layer of Poly-fil Premium Fiber Fill Bag in the front of the bear’s chest.

Step 17: Place the heart recorder inside the bear’s chest.

Make sure that it is lined up so that when someone pushes on the front of the bear’s chest, the heart will be pushed and it will play.

Step 18: Fill around the heart.

Put Poly-fil Premium Fiber Fill Bag around the heart.

Step 19: Optional: If you’d like to add a little weight to the bottom of your bear to have him sit up properly then you can add Poly-pellets to its bottom. Add the desired amount of weight.

Step 20: Retest the recorder.

Press on the bear’s chest and test the recorder. If you are pushing it against the back of the stuffing and your hand, it should make a sound. If it doesn’t, troubleshoot.

If it does, smile, pat yourself on the back, and move onto the final step.

Step 21: Closure.

Stitch the back of the bear’s body clothes. Some people find that putting a last little bit of Poly-fill in helps the back to stay up straight and not have any tucks or puckers. When you close the back up, your memorial bear is complete.

Step 22: Please pat yourself on the back and then give yourself a hug.


Like me, you might want to put your bear somewhere special. Make sure that it can’t get wet. Children should be alerted to the fact that it is not a toy. Any well-meaning housekeepers or family members should know that it can’t go into the washer or any body of water or will be ruined.

Congratulations on completing this complex project.

I hope that your memorial bear brings you some comfort.


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24 août 2018



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