Jemma's tribute to loved ones is sew good

'People usually throw their arms around me and give me a big hug. They are usually lost for words because they are upset.'

Thursday, 20th October 2016, 1:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 4:38 pm
Jemma Thornton at her sewing machine

When someone dies, their loved ones may wonder what to do with all of their possessions.

Now Jemma Thornton has found a creative way to reuse their clothes and create a special reminder of the person who has died.

The 37-year-old uses an item of their clothing to create a unique teddy bear in their memory.

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A bear made by Jemma

Jemma said: “It’s amazing and I get so much joy from making them.

“I made one from a shirt and the bear has a collar around its neck and it still smells of aftershave.

“It’s a lovely idea and a great keepsake.”

Jemma made her first bear in June while looking for a project to keep her busy and uses a second-hand sewing machine she bought for £10.

A bear made by Jemma

People give her a piece of clothing, such as a shirt, pyjamas or a skirt worn by a loved one.

She said: “I’m going to try to get to the stage where I can make them from more or less anything.

“For some people, all they have left is a jumper. I have made some from cardigans.”

Jemma cuts up the item and uses the material to create a teddy, following a pattern she has adapted.

The first bear took around 12 hours to make, but Jemma has got that down to five hours.

She said: “It’s not a simple process but I am hoping to get quicker at it.

“It’s becoming less complicated because I’m getting more used to it.”

The bears are a special way to reuse the clothes and create a new memorial to honour a loved one.

Mum-of-one Jemma, who lives in Bickershaw, said: “Normally their clothing is just tucked away in a cupboard.

“It’s brought to life and can be cherished and put on display to remember them.”

Jemma was so pleased with the bears that she decided to set up her own business selling them.

They have proved to be popular and she is able to make two or three a week around her job as a receptionist.

She said: “I realised that what I was making was pretty good so I decided to see if I could make a living from it.

“Eventually I would like to do it as my main income. Everyone always dreams of doing something they love for a living.”

It is not just bears that Jemma makes, but also bunnies and cushions. She also makes angels and uses petals from artificial flowers for their wings and skirts.

They are not always made from the clothing of those who have died, but sometimes a special item of clothing such as a baby grow to create a keepsake.

The bears are a special reminder for many, but for some people, the thought of cutting up their loved one’s clothes is too painful.

Jemma said: “I get quite a lot of people getting in touch saying they really want me to make a bear but they don’t come forward with the clothes. It’s quite emotional sometimes for them to have the clothes cut up.”

To find out more about the bears go to