Baby Clothes Memory Bear Pattern and Tutorial

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I really can't take credit for this idea. A friend asked me to make a stuffed bear from the outfit her baby wore home from the hospital. She got the idea from Pinterest and it was a bad link so I can't source it.

Turn old baby clothes into a memory bear.
Make a cute stuffed bear from an old baby onesie.

So, I had to come up with my own bear pattern. I used as few pieces as possible, but some extra stitching gives it more shape and allows it to sit. It was based off of THIS one, but I changed it quite a bit.

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I made one from one of our old onesies first, since I was terrified to cut into that precious baby outfit. I was glad that I practiced first, but I was happy with how both of them turned out! Here is hers:

upcycled-bear.jpg
Use old baby sleeper to make a memory bear

And, because I felt like it, I took pictures of the process to make a tutorial to share! (They are a little dark, but it was winter.) You will need:

~clothing item to upcycle (or fabric)
~lightweight, iron-on interfacing
~scissors (paper and fabric!)
~thread
~ribbon (optional)
~fiberfill
~sewing machine
~hand sewing needle
~bear pattern (available HERE)

***I have had a few people ask about sizing. The finished bear measures about 8" high. These bears were made with a newborn outfit and a 9 month onesie.

***Also, I have been getting some feedback on this pattern so I feel compelled to warn you that the resulting bear using this pattern usually looks more like the bear made with the purple onesie. It is a chubbier bear vs. a long bear. I honestly like the chubby bear better! There are many factors that can alter the shape of your bear, including the type of fabric used, how tight you pull the neck in, how you print the pattern, and how it is stuffed. You can even squeeze it and smoosh it until takes on a different shape, too. This is a free pattern and I did my best. I took the pictures as I was making the pink bear so that is what is used for the tutorial pics showing the construction.

Start out with the clothing item you wish to upcycle. Or, buy fabric. That works, too, but I haven't been doing much of that lately.

(Pats self on back. Good girl!)

Use outgrown baby clothes to make a memory bear

Then, you want to dismantle it. The best way to start is to snip out those side seams. I had to cut off the bottom cuffs to get to them, though.

how to cut apart a baby sleeper to make a memory bear

Figure out how to fit the pattern on the available fabric. This may take some thought- also be mindful of directional prints. With this particular outfit, I cut the bottoms off just below the pocket and cut the arms off so that I could make do and use them as well. There wasn't enough fabric in just the main body part because it is so tiny! For the onesie, which was a 6-9 month size, the pattern pieces fit on the main body part. If you need to make the arms separately, just make them 1/2" longer on the pattern piece and cut it apart 1/4" from the body of the bear pattern.

how to turn a baby sleeper into a memory bear

Now, knit fabric likes to stretch. That is what makes it so comfy and easier to put on a squirmy baby. For this project, though, you want it to be non-stretchy. Interface the back of each piece with a lightweight, iron-on interfacing. It makes it much easier to work with and the final product stuffs better.

How to make knit fabrics work for memory bears

Next, cut our your pattern pieces. If you are able to fit the pattern on without making separate arms- good for you! It will be a little easier.

Memory bear pieces cut from a baby sleeper

If you had to make do, like me, sew on the arms.

Sew arms on memory bear to make the pattern work with small clothes

Use a 1/4" seam allowance throughout this project. Sew the front pieces together from the forehead to the bottom of the belly. Sew the back pieces together from the back of the head to the bottom of the bum, but leave an opening in the back. There are dots marked on the pattern pieces- just sew between those.

Note- I tweaked the pattern as I went, so yours will look a little different in shape than mine do here. Just follow the pattern if you don't want a pointy tail poking out or an oddly shaped head.

How to sew a memory bear from baby clothes

Now, you want to embroider the eyes on. You could use button eyes or other cute things, but I went with black embroidery floss and satin stitched the eyes. It is not a choking hazard this way, but this entire project is at your own risk/supervise your child. I am not responsible in any way. Legal disclaimer. All of those kids toy manufacturing regulations scare me. You can do the nose now, too, if you prefer, but I liked being able to shape it a little more after it was stuffed.

embroidered eyes on a memory bear

Sew the front and back pieces together. You can clip the corners and curves, but I just went around the whole thing with pinking shears because it was easier.

sewing an easy memory bear

Flip it right side out and sew the ears. Just stitch a straight line from the outside to the inside of the ear. Don't try to curve it- trust me and my excessive seam ripping. Sew a straight line. A shorter stitch length would be good, too.

How to shape bear ears without adding extra pieces

Stuff the arms and legs. Use small amounts of fiberfill and stuff evenly. Sew lines on those as shown on the pattern piece. Again, this took a lot of tweaking and seam ripping on the first bear to get the shape just right, so follow the pattern!

stuff bear arms and legs and stitch- gives the stuffed bear shape without adding extra pattern pieces

Stuff the rest of the bear...

make an easy stuffed bear from old baby clothes

Stitch it closed by hand with a ladder stitch. Just google it if you don't know how. This isn't my best work, but it is usually invisible.

ladder stitch the back of the stuffed bear

Final touches...

~Wrap some heavy thread around the neck tightly to pull it in and knot it well. Tuck the loose thread ends into the bear. *****THIS STEP MAKES A REALLY BIG DIFFERENCE IN THE SHAPE OF THE BEAR!!!!!*****

~Embroider a nose on the bear. It works better to do it at the end because you can shape it a little bit. I stitched a triangle and then satin stitched over that until I got the look I wanted. ~Add a bow... if you want. This one I added one on the ear- it is sewn down really well, so I don't think she will ever be able to pull that off. The other bear has a ribbon bow around the neck instead. I like that, too.

shaping a stuffed bear with less pieces

Then, because I just couldn't let that little pocket go, I made a tiny little blanket for the bear.

upcycled bear and blanket from baby clothes

I was really low on fabric at this point, so I mixed in some other cotton scraps. The back is some scrap minky from a taggy blanket for last year's Operation Christmas Child shoebox. It has 1/8" seam allowances, so it was really finicky to make. No tutorial for this part... just pictures.

baby clothes blanket or lovie for stuffed animal

I love this idea and wish that I had done it before with my kids! I still have some items saved in storage, so I might try to do something like this when I become a grandmother one day. I miss babies, so the thought of being old enough to be a grandma doesn't even make me sad now.

Here is the pattern link again if you want to download it...

Here is a pinnable image if you want to save it for later...

Use baby's going home from the hospital outfit to make a keepsake stuffed memory bear with this free pattern and tutorial.

As always, this pattern may not be copied and sold. It is for your personal, non-commercial use. I would LOVE to see pictures of anything you make with this, though! You can send them to me via facebook or e-mail them to pacountrycrafts at gmail dot com.

You can find more of my tutorials HERE! This is just a sampling of some baby-related ones...