Back to School(ish) Sewing

Whew!  I don’t think I’ve ever gone this long without a post!  I’ve missed blogging, but other more important things were calling; namely, back-to-school chores.  School supplies, paperwork, meeting teachers, stressing out, basically all the things moms usually do in August.  Except this is my first time at it, so it’s taking me a while to learn the ropes.  And I have, of course, been sewing.  I’m finding that back-to-school is an excellent time to create.  And, because we only buy fair-labor clothing — and, increasingly, fair labor supplies — it’s a necessary time to create.

First off, my daughter, who is entering kindergarten this year, needed a lunch bag.  Inspired by the round-up of tutorials on Sew, Mama, Sew, I came up with this:

I would say that it’s closest to the lunch bag from The Long Thread, except I added a top flap and zipper.

I lined the inside with Insul-Bright in my first attempt at sewing with insulated batting.  Honestly, it wasn’t any different than sewing with conventional batting in any way that I could tell.  I simply quilted it onto wrong side of the lining material and then went about sewing the bag.  It’s good stuff, and I’ll definitely use it again. I love that it’s machine-washable, making my daughter’s sack laundry-safe.  The bag itself, however, is not my best work.  But, on a recent trip to the bookstore with my daughter, I read the book Ish by Peter Reynolds.  I can now say that while the above bag isn’t a perfect lunch sack, it is lunch sack-ish, and that’s good enough for me. I’d highly, highly recommend the book, by the way, especially if you or your children needs to learn that the creative process is a freeing process, not a confining, perfectionistic one.

Anyway, next I focused on re-usable baggies.

I used the bag full of zippers I found for twenty-five cents at a garage sale and went to town. They won’t work for wet stuff, but I think they’ll be stellar for dry foods. And they’re machine-washable and a fairly quick sew. Most importantly, they’re pretty.  If I know kindergartners, I know they appreciate pretty. I’m working on a tutorial for these right now, since they’re so fast and simple, so stay tuned if you think you might like to make some zippered re-usable baggies yourself.

Next up, a white t-shirt for my son’s first day of Pre-K.  I have no idea what they’re going to do with it, but it was on the supply list, so here it is, decent enough on the second attempt (the first one was way too big).  It’s not a perfect t-shirt, but It’s t-shirtish.  And white t-shirts are something you simply have to learn to make yourself or resign to paying more to get them from a fair-labor retailer since it’s impossible to find good white t-shirts at thrift stores or garage sales.  It makes sense, after all.  White tees are the first to gather irreversible stains.  They just don’t last long enough to become hand-me-downs.

And lastly, of course . . .

I had to make my sweet little daughter an outfit to wear on the first day of school.  I used the Miss Madeline dress pattern from The Handmade Dress, omitting the waistband and raising the hem about eight inches to give it a tunic length. I love The Handmade Dress; their patterns are simple and easy, perfect starting points for everyday dresses.  Their creator is a homeschooling mother of three, so you know that when you’re buying the patterns, you’re supporting a worthwhile enterprise.  The fabric that I used for the shirt is from a “Made Exclusively for JoAnn Fabrics” print that I got for $3.99 per yard, and the interlock for the leggings was part of an armful of knits I took home from a garage sale for $5.

My daughter loved her outfit, and she did wonderfully on her first day.  She was so excited to go to school, and she’s such a social little girl, that she went into her classroom, sat down, and watched me leave without a tear.  The same can’t be said for me, I’m afraid.  I bawled on and off throughout the day.

And after that experience, while I’m sitting here decompressing from the whirlwind of getting children ready to go to school, I want to say good luck and brightest blessings to all the moms and kids preparing for school to begin in the coming weeks.  Moms, you’re doing a good job.  Your significant others and your children probably don’t appreciate you or your work enough, but the peace and comfort you give your family with all that you do makes it possible for them to focus on learning.  And kids, how brave and wonderful you are, facing the challenges of a new school year armed with optimism, excitement, and new (or new to you) shoes.  I hope you all have a wonderful year!

No matter how one may think himself accomplished, when he sets out to learn a new language, science, or the bicycle, he has entered a new realm as truly as if he were a child newly born into the world.”  ~Frances Willard, How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle

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6 Responses to “Back to School(ish) Sewing”


  1. 1 Andrea August 23, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    I love that lunch bag. It’s exactly what I would have made. Great work. Our first day of school is next week. I’m more nervous than she is :)

  2. 2 Leslie August 24, 2010 at 9:06 am

    these are amazing back to school things. you are such a talented sewer. i won’t even attempt something if it looks remotely like it might be difficult. your daughter looks thrilled with her new things.

  3. 3 Melissa Howard August 24, 2010 at 9:11 am

    Her dress is absolutely adorable!!

    I like the idea of things being ‘ish’ish.

  4. 4 Sally Gulde August 26, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    Love the idea of “ish.” I need to go check out that book.

    And goes without saying, but love all of M’s lunch stuff. I need to get my act together and start sewing again!

    Miss you.

  5. 5 Pearlin J July 14, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    Hi
    I love that lunch bag, is there anyway you can do a little tute on how to add the zipper and the top flap?

  6. 6 Claudia September 24, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    I also would like to know how to install a zipper that way… I’ve looked all over the net for something and I can’t find anything. In fact, what I need is how to line the whole thing with that kind of flap. Any help would be much appreciated. Good job !!!


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