Embroidered Tote Bags for Teachers

This past year was the Boo’s first year in preschool. We were exceedingly lucky to land, completely by accident, at the school we did. We loved it, the Boo (most days) loved it, and his teachers were exceptional.

Combine that with my own inclination to make handmade gifts whenever possible (we did felted soaps for Christmas) and I was a bit stuck on what to make for end of year gifts. I truly wanted to thank his remarkable teachers for such a great year.

And then I remembered the embroidery ideas from The Creative Family. Although I didn’t go about it the same way, I love the idea of embroidering a child’s drawings. Since the Boo has become such a prolific artist this year, thanks in no small part to his school and teachers, I thought it would be cool to do something like that. But what can you put embroidery on? Pilllows would be odd.

And then I saw this adorable apple fabric and it all fell in place. Tote bags! With embroidery! Too cute and hopefully a useful gift for teachers, right? So here they are:

I have to admit I’m smitten with these. Love, love, love.   Thank goodness there is fabric left over because I want one! A little birdie told me my nieces would like two as well 🙂

I knew they would be fairly easy to make because, come on, they’re tote bags. However turns out all the patterns I have call for home decor weight fabric. Oops. I have quilting weight. So I had to research how to buff up lightweight fabrics. I had to order linen for the embroidery (well I suppose I didn’t have to, but I wanted to) which I also used for the handles.

I based this bag loosely on the bag in Lotta Jansdotter’s Simple Sewing book, but then turned to Last Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts for lining help. The dimensions were similar between the bags. (Er, I think. It’s been a rough week.)

I ended up interfacing the bag with plain old flannel. I believe I picked up that trick from Amy Karol but I’m not entirely sure. I thought about iron-on but I’m never convinced of the durability of that stuff. They have a wonderful heft and I’m not at all worried about the fabric ripping any time soon.

I actually have pictures of the inside fabric (polka dots and one Amy Butler print) and closeups of the finished embroidery but I haven’t uploaded them off my phone yet! I figured I should post while I had the time instead of waiting even longer.

At any rate, I do have a very early picture (uploaded to facebook!) when I just started doing the embroidery. This is actually my first ever embroidery so I’m very proud! I spent some time reading my embroidery books too. The bee is done here and the snail/slug picture is in progress. The other picture on the finished bags is a butterfly. Boo is very proud of these because they were drawn without stencils.

Also? I got to use my grandmother’s hoops. Yay for that too.

I rediscovered how much I enjoy sewing with these but how much I dislike sewing on a deadline. I also dislike the prep work. Washing fabric, drying fabric, ironing fabric, cutting fabric (which I’m very bad at), pinning fabric, finally getting to sew fabric but then stopping to press it again! Argh. I ended up only pressing down the seams along the top because I couldn’t figure out HOW to press the seams on the inside without putting creases in the bags. Boggle.

Hmm what else. I wanted to sew and then top-stitch the tops but I couldn’t figure out where to put the handles, so I ended up just top-stitching. Hope they hold up!

In any case. I loved this project and I think Boo’s teachers were genuinely touched. I do have to say these might have been more work than one would normally put into teachers gifts, although they certainly didn’t cost more. We would have spent more on gift certificates, which seems to be the default gift these days. Now whether or not the teachers would have preferred gift certificates is another question! Perhaps. But I do hope they liked them and that they’ll remember the Boo at least a little.  They made an indelible impact on his young life and I am forever grateful for their compassion, patience, and understanding as we navigated this very new stage of life for the Boo. I will miss them very much as we’re going to a different school next year.

Anna, Anne and Laura, you all are the best!

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One Response to Embroidered Tote Bags for Teachers

  1. Megan says:

    Those are too cute! Boo drew those pics? Awesome. Makes me want to be a teacher to get a gift like that.

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