Handmade Teacher Gift Round-Up

Alright, team players!  A bunch of you had some really great suggestions for end-of-year gifts for teachers, and I loved what you had to share.  I loved that some of you are teachers or are married to teachers, and you totally get where I’m coming from on the cookie plate thing–and I loved that you guys really want to do something special and handmade for the people who invest so much in our kids.

Below, I’ve sorted most of the suggestions into five categories, grouping them together and then linking to tutorials and patterns around the web so that you can jump right in and get going on them.  Only a few days left for most of us–but still enough time to be thoughtful!

best handmade teacher gift tutorials


sew demented sew together bag

The Sew Together Bag is a clear favorite, and for good reason: it’s a clever design that looks complicated and thoughtful, but by all accounts is pretty quick to sew up after the first one.  (I confess that I haven’t made one of these yet, but they’re the front-runner for this year’s teachers.)

sew sweetness crimson and clover

This train case is a DREAM, and I’ve been seeing it all over lately.  I love the little handle on top, and the treatment of the zipper around the sides.  There are a number of different patterns out right now that are similar, but the most popular seem to be from Sew Sweetness and the Tiny Boxy Zippy.


lined drawstring bag in color order

Basic drawstring totes, like the one in my previous post, are always handy to have around–no matter how many I have and in how many shapes, I am always able to find a use for another.  There are zillions of versions available on the internet, including the one by Jeni Baker of In Color Order.

stitch by stitch reversible tote

I love a good handled tote bag, too.  The one from Stitch by Stitch is the perfect size for groceries, sewing projects, and even a kids’ overnight bag.  How about filling it with summery items, like a handmade beach towel? (Image via Stay At Home Artist.)

ellen baker lunch sack

What about a lunch sack?  It might not seem like a tote, but most teachers would love a handmade bag to take their lunch to school each day.  When I taught school, there were SO many opportunities to eat, eat, eat all day–but things have changed in 10+ years, and teachers are looking to model good eating for their students.  A pretty handmade lunch sack might be just the ticket to help them do that everyday!  Find a roundup of lunch bag tutorials on Sew, Mama, Sew, and I made the Ellen Baker lunch sack years ago for my kids and still use them every day.


five point coaster tutorial

The basic mug rug might be overdone, but there’s no getting around the fact that a great coaster is super helpful.  You can find mug rug and coaster tutorials all over, but I love this fancy one from Craft Passion, as well as this one, and this one.

fabric mousepad how joyful

What about a mouse pad?  Reader Debbie suggested this idea, and I just love it.  Most teachers are still working with a desktop computer and separate mouse, and a pretty mouse pad is a great reminder each time they log a grade or draft an assignment that their students appreciate all the work they do.  I like this scrap version.

dixie diy neck pillow

Not technically a desk item, a neck pillow can be great for the summer–and soothe tired necks into next school year.  I like Dixie DIY’s version from One Yard Wonders.


chic sewing felt birthday crowns

A bunch of folks leaving comments indicated that gifts for the classroom and for the students who spend the year in them.  So how about a felt crown for birthday kids?  And this isn’t just for elementary school children–I taught every grade from 6th to seniors, and I’ll tell you what: I have never met a high school kid who wouldn’t be delighted to wear a birthday crown.  Maybe they’d do it with irony, but deep down, those kids are INTO IT.

STORE-BOUGHT (but still thoughtful)

Also appreciated, and easy to slip into any of the above gifts:

  • movie tickets and gift cards
  • a Netflix subscription
  • a gift card to a local restaurant
  • a basket of school supplies for next year
  • a selection of pool or beach items, like sunscreen and a good novel

In Search of the Perfect Teacher Gift

quilted drawstring bag 8b

The end of the school year is, once again, upon us.  On the one hand: oh, thank goodness, I am SO relieved to not have to get up at the crack of whenever.  On the other: so much less time to get stuff done!  It seems a cruel trade-off, that we have to get up at an unholy hour in order to accomplish more during the day, but there it is.

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The Flip Flop Dress in Citrus Checks

Yep.  More Flip Flop Dress previews.

the flip flop dress in citrus checks

Sometimes I’m astonished at how long it can take to develop a pattern, even one that seems really simple.  Not just the pattern pieces, but the technical writing to get the instructions JUST RIGHT, and the images and graphics to communicate each step in the construction process, and then the photos to show the features of the pattern (which take the cooperation of small people sometimes).  Plus the samples to be sewn, the testers to coordinate with, the lost sleep as you worry over details that you are convinced could make or break the entire project.

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Spring Bloom Blog Hop & Giveaway

My dear friend Dana emailed me recently and asked if she could introduce me to her friend Amanda, a member of the LAMQG, who is releasing her first fabric collection with Windham this spring.  I love Dana and think she has flawless taste, and when I emailed back and forth with Amanda, I could see why Dana loves her.  I am so flattered that Amanda invited me to play with her very first collection, Spring Bloom, and since my somewhat obsessive very thorough revision of the Flip Flop Dress pattern is still going on, I took this as a chance to sew up two SUPER cute versions of this dress.


Scroll down to win your own bundle of Spring Bloom fabrics!

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Tweens Can Sew! The Girl’s Guide to DIY Fashion

Girls Guide to DIY Fashion

My little girl is going to be nine this year.  NINE.  It’s an awesome and icky age for any kid, and I can’t believe how quickly it happened.  When did my little girl get to be NINE?!?

Like my sisters and me with my mom when we were little, my kids see me sewing.  Like, every single day, sewing.  It’s how I internalized sewing as a natural extension of my own hands, as a way to take my creative ideas and make them real.  I want that for my children, and most days I feel like we’re doing a pretty good job of getting there (all those hours spent tracing shapes with embroidery floss must be building a foundation, right?)  Nine years old, though, has its own ideas.  Nine years old wants to do for itself, wants to express a viewpoint that’s independent of mom and dad.  Nine years old wants to design and plan and select and construct and MAKE.

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Lemon Drop Love: Small World Fabric

Small World corduroy pink with lemons | Whipstitch

Hello, Lemon Drop!  When Rae’s new collection for Cloud9 was very first announced, I lost my mind a little bit over this print.  I have some citrus obsession, I admit, but also: gah!!  How great is THIS??  The color combination, the lemony shapes, the sheer deliciousness of it all.

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Tutorial: Quick & Classic Fabric Headbands

fabric headbands and family photos

When our oldest was still living at home (before moving off to college), it made my plans for matching family outfit world domination a challenge.  As a high schooler, the patterns I used for the younger girls not only didn’t fit, they weren’t appropriate for an older girl–and things that were appropriate were more time-consuming to sew.  She was always a team player, though, and always willing to match the other kids, so long as it was reasonable.

Enter: the fabric headband.

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I Can’t Be Stopped: Matching Family Easter

family easter 2015

I am over the edge.  It’s official.  After many holidays and events where I insisted on dressing all the children in matching outfits, we have now celebrated our second? third? Easter where I made the entire FAMILY dress in matching outfits.  I am a monster.

Two dresses, two tops, two bow ties, one headband, one hair bow, one pair of shorts and a skirt.  Seven fabrics, nine patterns.  And a heavenly morning was had by all.  Read on for details and links!

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Sew Together, Grow Together


Ever since my Sewing With Kids series yeeeaaars ago, I’m always on the lookout for sewing projects I can do along with my children.  They went to Montessori school as little ones, so scenes like this are not uncommon at our house:

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 1.12.29 PM

I stretch a piece of unbleached muslin in an embroidery hoop and we draw a shape using felt tip pen.  Then they “trace” it with floss and an embroidery needle.  It’s “sewing work,” and they love it.

Each of them, though, would gleefully move beyond this simple project to make something a little more substantial.  They regularly go through my scrap basket–to which they know they have unfettered access–and I discover that our boy has made scarves or vests for his dinosaurs, or that our girls have made clothes for their dolls.  I’m always on the lookout for the kind of project that we can make together–and there’s a new e-book out that does just that.

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Now Available: The Overmost Pattern is Here!

Click to Buy The Overmost Now!

The Overmost sewing pattern a7

At last, at last!!  The Overmost pattern is BACK!

The Overmost sewing pattern a1

I originally released this pattern back in 2010, and it has been one of my best-selling styles.  Over the years, I have loved and used and my children have worn and worn and worn this design, and I couldn’t be more excited to give it a much-needed facelift and release it back into the world!

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