Stitching a memory

After my mother-in-law Elizabeth died earlier this year and we were clearing out her apartment, my daughter-in-law Andreea asked if she could have the jacket Elizabeth wore at her wedding. Not because it was her colour or her size or her style, but to be made into a memory bear.

The wedding jacket

I’d never heard of memory bears so I looked them up – it’s rather a lovely idea, turning a piece of clothing or a blanket or some other piece of fabric belonging to a loved one into a keepsake bear. Well, last month the bear arrived.

The memory bear

Andreea showed him to us when we were visiting, and asked whether I could embroider something on him to identify him as a memento of Elizabeth. I was a bit taken aback – it’s quite scary being part of making a memory! Can you imagine getting it wrong… But it was also an honour to be asked, so we talked about what she would like embroidered, and where. We decided on “Granny”, to be stitched onto the sole of one of his feet. After we got home I thought it would be rather a nice idea to stitch it in Elizabeth’s handwriting, but when I asked Andreea she said she didn’t think they still had any of her correspondence. I sent out an appeal to the other grandchildren, and Issy (her of the door hanger) found a letter which she photographed for me.

A sample of Elizabeth's handwriting

Then the handwriting needed to be tidied up into a nice dark outline that would be easy to transfer. Mind you, I’m not sure how I’m going to transfer it to the bear’s foot – a lightbox is not going to work, is it? So I may have to go for some sort of prick & pounce, or dressmaker’s carbon paper.

Elizabeth's handwriting tidied up

It then struck me that it would be rather appropriate to use some of the vintage silk I inherited from Elizabeth; in spite of the claims on the label it may not be 100% colourfast, but then the bear is unlikely to be washed.

Elizabeth's vintage Filoselle silks (ignore the darning egg)

So there’s the start of the project: I’ve measured his foot and have printed the handwriting in three possible sizes to see which would look best (probably the middle one – how very Goldilocks smiley), and I’ve picked two colours of silk, which will need to be narrowed down to one before I start stitching. Then transfer the lettering, and work out how one stitches whipped backstitch straight onto a bear’s pad. If the worst comes to the worst, I’ll stitch the word on a patch (possibly of the Irish linen I also inherited) and sew it on, but I’m hoping that won’t be necessary. Wish me luck!

A few sizes printed and silks chosen

2 comments on “Stitching a memory

  1. What a lovely idea! Pity there’s none of the blue fabric left, because you might have been able to use that as a patch/label. Anyway, I’m sure you will make a gorgeous job of it, and that Andreea will be delighted. Merry Christmas!

  2. I forgot to ask if there were any scraps with the bear – but I think if it is to be a patch I may as well make it a visible one; stitched on with invisible stitches first, and then with large ones in the colour of the name (or the other colour) like those on the Tatty Teddies.
    And happy Christmas to you too!

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