About Cwtch & Bloom and Me
Hi I’m Rachel. Welcome to my world, I’m so glad you are here!
After working for years making keepsakes for clients, I now share all my knowledge to help others sew gorgeous quality memory bears.
When I’m not sewing, I’m hanging out with my daughter, she’s 10 now; or I’m curled up on my settee reading any crime novel I can get my fingers on – but strictly only on paper, no kindles for me! My favourite non-human is my naughty spaniel Callie and when she isn’t cwtched up under my desk, she takes me to the park and the beach. At the end of a busy day I’m usually chilling with my hubby watching Grand Designs or Location Location Location or anything else house-reno-ish we can find!
My business name
I recently renamed my business and chose a name that really encompasses the spirit of memory bear sewing.
Cwtch is a Welsh word that means a cuddle or hug, but not just any hug… a cwtch is a hug that is a safe place. When you (or a client if you sew bears as a business) choose clothes for a memory bear, those clothes are often chosen because of the warm memories they hold.
When a person has lost a dear friend or family member the bear made from their clothes is an embodiment of the emotional connection they want to hold on to.
I chose the word Bloom to show how my patterns can also be used to sew keepsakes from baby clothes, and also to represent how sewing my patterns has often sparked makers to found a business sewing bears for others – so they bloom as they grow their businesses.
I started sewing when I became a mother
My mum sewed when I was a child and she sewed or knitted all mine and my sister’s clothes – imagine 70’s pinafore dresses and knitted flares! But just watching her thread her machine looked scary, and I was too nervous to learn.
I didn’t actually try sewing until I was a mum myself and I wanted to make a cloth doll for my daughter. I worked out how to thread my machine (it was nothing like as difficult as I expected!!) and sewed my first rag doll. That was in 2015.
I bought a couple of different doll patterns and made them. But they didn’t look exactly as I wanted them to. So I tried drawing my own using the dimensions and shapes I had in my imagination. Lots of scribbling, cutting and re-cutting later I had written my first pattern! And she is still available today as the Ballerina Doll.
The 1st time I heard of memory bears
When my daughter was a toddler, I was chatting to my friend at soft play (we spent hours there back in the day). My friend was telling me about how she’d clubbed together with friends to buy one of their circle a voucher for a keepsake.
I was intrigued, this was the first time I had heard of memory bears. I had been looking for a business idea that included my new love of sewing and that would allow me to stay home with my daughter, and here it was!
Long story short, I googled sewing patterns for bears, experimented with sewing them, my first attempts at ladder stitching were a disaster(!) and by 2017 I had perfected my techniques and I opened my first Etsy shop.
Before I launched my keepsake business it took me hours of research to find out how to sew a professional quality bear. I scoured the internet learning about interfacing and stuffing, and trying to work out why some of the bears I saw on Pinterest looked perfect whilst others were misshapen or wrinkly. I joined Facebook groups to research best methods, but I found that lots of established makers were very reluctant to share their tips. I persevered because my future customers deserved the very best that I could deliver.
At first I made all my keepsakes from other designers’ patterns. But remember how sewing a couple of rag dolls made me experiment with making my own pattern? It wasn’t long before I just had to try writing a bear pattern.
More scribbling, cutting and re-cutting followed. I wanted to make a bear that didn’t have any joints so I could sew it faster, but I wanted it to still look jointed. I also wanted a bear that was made from slim shapes that would work well for adult clothes. After several months my sketches and cutting out resulted in Charlie bear. I released the pattern in 2019 and he has sold in his thousands ever since.
My keepsake making business flourished and in time allowed me to leave my retail management job so I could be home with my daughter. Gradually my want to design patterns came to outweigh my want to sew keepsakes for clients. And by 2022 I closed the sewing bears for clients side of my business so I could focus 100% on pattern writing.
I think that anyone who wants to sew a memory bear deserves to be given all the information and support they need to sew the most PERFECT keepsake to hold their memories.
So all of my new patterns come with a photo tutorial that doesn’t just tell you the basics of how to attach the pattern pieces together but also gives you all the pro tips and knowledge you need to get a great result. I’ll tell you how and why to interface your fabric, how to treat each type of seam to get perfect curves and angles, and how to stuff your bear or elephant or dog keepsake….. so that your memory bear can be perfect.
How to Buy
To shop my patterns CLICK HERE FOR MY SHOP
CLICK HERE for my free download 10 Insider Tips to Sew Perfect Memory Bears this will also sign you up to my newsletter
And finally, I have a really welcoming Facebook community, click here for the CWTCH AND BLOOM MAKERS CLUB