BATTLEFIELD, Mo. – Three years ago, Springfield area resident Heather Connolly decided to take up sewing as a fun, new hobby. That hobby has now turned into a way for her to help others remember their loved ones forever.
In April, Connolly decided to change things up and picked an animal pattern to see if she could perfect the craft of stuffed animals. Connolly told The Heartlander that the first pattern turned out rough, but after posting it on Facebook, some friends saw it and suggested making ‘memory bears’, instead of an average stuffed animal.
The idea behind a memory bear is to take a loved one’s article of clothing and make it into a soft, cuddly keepsake for sentimental memory or to hand down to the next generation. Memory bears are said to be therapeutic for both children and adults when they are missing someone that they love or have loved.
Gaining popularity through word of mouth, it wasn’t long after her initial Facebook post that she began receiving requests for memory bears from others in her congregation at Graceway Baptist Church.
Connolly receives frequent requests to make memory bears in memory of those who have passed on, but says that she has made the bears for numerous other reasons as well. She has taken onesies that someone wore as an infant and turned them into a memory bear for later in life. Connolly also recently made a memory bear for a young girl who was missing one of her parents, of whom she could not physically be with at the time.
She said that when she picks up clothing from a family who has lost someone dear to them, she often gets to hear their back story and memories of them wearing that specific article of clothing.
“These people remember their loved ones in those pieces of clothing and they hold so much sentimental value,” Connolly said. “Hearing that story when I meet up with them is just a really special thing.”
Connolly has made the bears for people in neighboring towns and often uses Facebook Marketplace to advertise her new-found hobby and business.
The bears are made from a sewing pattern, which Connolly describes as puzzle pieces that you have to put together at the end, but says it’s complicated to explain.
“If you were not a seamstress and you didn’t know how to sew, you’d probably look at it and say, ‘No way’,” Connolly said with laughter.
She also makes bunnies, cats and memory pillows, and says it generally takes her 2 hours to complete a stuffed memory animal.
Pricing is $25 per bear, but prices go up an extra $5 for customizations such as pockets, names or initials. Those interested in having a memory bear made can visit her Facebook page or email Heather Connolly at firstname.lastname@example.org.