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Transforming Memories

The Patchwork Bear: Recycled, Remade, Remembered

For those who want to keep memories but cut down on clutter, a talented team at The Patchwork Bear in Pennington can turn clothes into instant heirlooms via a memory bear, bunny or pet, quilt or other keepsake that beautifully saves life's most meaningful moments.

This small business was founded in 2003 by Jennifer Cura, who says she combined her skill as an architect with her love of design and sewing to create a line of handmade keepsakes that are as cherished and personal as those who own them. "My kids were little and I wanted to stay home with them but still have something that was just for me. What started as a hobby in my basement grew into a full sewing studio in Princeton. Together, our team now offers a service that helps save memories, remember loved ones and give new life to favorite clothes," she explains. 

"Each and every order is unique and special in its own way, and we love getting to know customers through the clothes they send us," she adds. "The most rewarding part for me is seeing how our designs touch lives by bringing back happy memories."

Jen says she grew this business slowly by doing local craft shows and selling matching bears and quilts. "I didn't start making memory bears until around 2007 and still love the idea of repurposing favorite clothes."

The Patchwork Bear has grown, she says, enabling her to work full time on the business for the last 5.5 years.

Jen says she knows it can be hard to feel comfortable sending irreplaceable clothes to be made into a keepsake, but she vows that the utmost care is taken throughout the process. "We have years of experience working with all kinds of clothes and everyone from carpool moms to celebrities, like Jennifer Garner, Chad Lowe, Nicole Kidman. We also were named one of Oprah's Favorite Things."

Customers can place orders for a memory bear, bunny, puppy, bird, bitty bear, pillow or quilt. The next step is that customers are emailed shipping instructions and a printable order form to include with the clothes. Then customers ship the materials with the order form. Jen says packages are received in a safe, secure, indoor location and signed for upon delivery, so they are never left outdoors subject to theft or bad weather. 

Potential add-ons include personalization of names and dates; pockets to the animals; a poem patch; personal quote; heart or butterfly appliques; a white cross; sewn-on patches; custom machine embroidery; and signature transfers to fabric.

"We designed award-winning gift kits for our best-selling products. All you have to do is give the kit. The gift kit includes shipping instructions, mailing bag and tips on choosing clothes for their keepsake. They just send their clothes to The Patchwork Bear and we take care of the rest," says Jen.

"We believe clothes hold special memories: baby's coming home outfit, grandpa's favorite T-shirt, game-winning jersey, wedding dresses. We turn favorite articles of clothing into a keepsake bear, patchwork pet, quilt, tote bag, stockings or pillow."

  • Jennifer Cura, founder of The Patchwork Bear