Lily was my lovely Mother and best friend who I sadly lost to cancer in February 2011.
I kept a bag of her clothing along with other bits and pieces that reminded me of her, as I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away. I had seen memory bears on the internet mainly in the USA and thought that it would be lovely to make one myself one day. Then in October last year I woke up one Monday morning and suddenly decided to finally have a go at making the bear. Looking back this was a strange decision, as I run my own small bridal wear business and Mondays are a very busy day for me, but once I started it there was no stopping me! Like a woman possessed I spent the next two days making the bear, receiving some strange looks from my husband. However it was time well spent and I was delighted with the finished product!
I am an regular Facebook user and on the following Wednesday I uploaded this photo of ‘Lily’ to my personal page.
Immediately all of these lovely comments started to appear one after the other, underneath the post, many of my friends saying that they would love a bear of their own! 32 comments to be exact! Here they are: (Scroll down if you don’t want to read them all!!)
Charlene – such a lovely idea!
Angie – Awwwww Kay, that is the sweetest idea and she would be so touched!!! What a lovely daughter she brought into the world xxx I love your Lily bear
Natalie. D – Aww Kay you’re so clever.. I have q dress of Beth’s that I’ve saved… hint hint
Ed – Aww she’s beautiful what a lovely keepsake of your Mam she would be so proud of you Kay xxxx
Me -I knew you would love her Ang! I am so proud of her:) Lily’s arms and legs are jointed, like the old fashioned bears, so she is pose-able.
Ed-You are great Kay love Lilly bear xxx
Angie -I wish I’d kept more of Franks clothes!!!! I could have had a Frank Bear! Better watch out – I think you might be inundated with requests for bears x
Charlene -So jealous, wish I could do something like this. My Mum would love an Audrey bear as Nana (her mum) passed away very suddenly in July and she’s finding it very hard. May look in to how to do it…
Me -Ok Natalie and Charlene I may look into maybe doing a few for others at the weekends, on the run up to Christmas but they do take a long time.
Me – Did your Mum keep any Ang? I bet she did:)
Angie – He had a lot of Hawaiian shirts which were his trademark and would make a very funky Frank (or ‘Big F’ as was affectionately known) Bear indeed!
Me – Awww they would make great bears Ang!! I could just use one and you could keep the other, send it over and I will make you one xxx
Angie -I’ll take photos of them over the weekend when I get a chance and see what you think xxxx see how you go – you’re a very busy lady xxx
Me – I am busy but i did enjoy doing Lily, the shirts will be great, really colourful!!
Charlene- Love the sound of an Hawaiian frank! Would look cool as! That would ever so sweet of you Kay. How hard are they to learn how to make…? I used to be ok at sewing but it was more A* for effort than skill!
Me – Me too I think Hawaiian Frank would be fabulous! This bear is quite intricate as I wanted it to be a vintage style, you could probably do a simpler version though.
Emma- Kay that is such a lovely thing to do, I think you may have another career path there !!!
Me – Thanks Emma, I can’t believe how popular she is!!!
Emma -I can it’s a lovely idea xx how many people must want to hold on to clothes but feel like they can’t or shouldn’t, this is just a perfect way to keep them close xx
Charlene – As well as being gorgeous and well made its the sentimental meaning behind it that really struck with me xx
Me – Exactly! They can be made with baby clothes or blankets too:)
Emma – Ah kay don’t I have loads of little things I have kept from my boys, first babygrow, blanket etc that would be amazing. Come on you need to start marketing this idea its amazing x
Me – I will do a couple more first and see how long they take and will let you know xxx
Emma -Yep defo I would love to buy one x
Ed – I’ve just shown Lilly’s picture to friends n family Kay they say its amazing xxxx even shown people in Morrisons so proud of you Kay xxxx
Me – Ha ha Lily is getting more famous by the minute!!
Mary – Aw Kay that is lovely xx
Anne-Marie – That is a beautiful idea and a beautiful bear..xx
Kelly -Love it!!!
Becky wow amazing!!! X
Natalie.C – I will pay good money to have my Grandad’s shirt made into a bear he was graces best friend x you super talented person x x
Me -Aaaw Nat I would love to, trying to get production time down will let you know when I have worked out a price, I am doing another one at the weekend, so will let you know x
Natalie.C – Thank you. Means alot x
Me – Emma, I’m going to work out a price over the weekend and you can be the first to own your very own memory bear made from your boys baby clothes x
Wow Lily was going viral!! I couldn’t believe how much attention she was getting from one photo! I uploaded more photos and the lovely comments flooded in!
I couldn’t wait to get started on another one! I started to rummage through the wardrobes seeking out my next project! I decided my next bear would be ‘Kian’ made from a suit my son wore at my nieces wedding a few years ago,
It was a lovely beige linen suit and dark red cravat, that had been in the wardrobe ever since the wedding.
Kian bear turned out so handsome, just like the real Kian!
Meanwhile I decided Lily should have a Facebook page of her own – Memory bears by Lily’s love and WOW what a response! I was receiving lots of new liker’s every day wonderful comments and enquiries too.
I offered to make the next bear for Natalie who was a friend from many years ago, she had commented on the post saying she would love a bear making from her daughters dress, who she had sadly lost age 12. I felt so honoured that Natalie trusted me with the precious dress and cardigan, thankfully ‘Beth’ bear turned out absolutely beautiful!
My next bear was made in memory of a gorgeous little boy Daniel, it was made from his favourite Power Ranger dressing up outfit and yellow football strip, the outfits had been kept in a box and his Mum Lorraine couldn’t bring herself to look at them. What a gorgeous cheerful bear he turned out to be, and so different to my other bears. Lorraine was so delighted and has him in pride of place in her living room.
I have since been inundated with requests from family and friends and other Facebook users, I have made them from shirts, jackets T shirts, football shirts, babies clothing, school uniforms, army uniforms and blankets, if it is made from fabric I can use it!
I love making each bear, figuring out the design and where to use the different details and fabrics and I love putting it together at the end and seeing it come to life, but most of all I love handing them over to their new owners, who are often amazed at the transformation!
Now 5 months later I have over 1000 Facebook liker’s, who are so interactive with comments and sharing my photos, it is thanks to them that the fan base has grown so quickly, so I decided it was time my bears had a website, I use a similar format to Facebook showing photos of each bear I make, I would love you to comment underneath your favourite posts.
Emma – ‘It’s a perfect way to keep them close’
Angie – ‘That’s what I love about your bears; you have your loved ones in your arms again’
MY favourite quote of all that brought a tear to my eye –
“Lovely to see you today Kay and thank-you so much for Alice and Harry’s bears X Alice loved seeing your ‘workshop’ and the bears on your shelf. When we got in the car she told me “Now I know why it’s called ‘by Lily’s Love’ because Kay’s Mum Lily sends her love down from heaven in every bear that’s made”