I'm probably the odd one out here, but as a kid, I really looked forward to going back to school in the fall. Now as a parent, I notice my kids aren't as excited as I was, but I still try to make the start of the school year a big deal. I find getting them involved in the process really helps: deciding what I'm making, picking the pattern, and picking the fabric. Are you adding some handmade love to your kids' school routine this year? In most of Canada, we have almost 2 weeks left before they go back. I've gathered up some great projects that I think would work well for the school year.
The staple of back-to-school bags!
Here's the Not-So-Tiny Explorer Backpack I made my son last year. You can read all the details in this post, but the gist is that I bought the Diedelbug Tiny Explorer PDF and followed the tutorial to expand the bag, making it the perfect size for most primary kids. These aren't quick or cheap to make, but they last. My son is happy to be using this one again this year.
My other son has asked me to make him a backpack and after looking through many patterns, he's set on the Sew Sweetness Cumberland Backpack. It comes in 2 sizes, so I'll make him the small. I love the shape!
This one would be great for a teenager who wouldn't need to carry too much. It fits my iPad plus some extras. I remember as a teenager, a large backpack cramped my style a bit, so I only brought my big backpack if I knew I had a ton to carry. Otherwise, I would have loved one like this, with just enough room for the essentials. The Calla Convertible Backpack from Blue Calla can also be worn as a purse, just move the straps to the front and carry on your shoulder! Don't forget to use the exclusive discount for Happy Okapi readers OKAPI10 to save 10% on any Blue Calla pattern.
Don't forget to eat! Lunch Bags are one of my favourite things to make; probably because they're something practically everyone can use, and they're fairly quick to make. I make mine insulated and I find the insulation works really well to keep foods cool all day long.
I made this fun, framed lunch bag with fabrics designed by Jackie McFee. The pattern allows for several different prints and I thought these fun flowers, chevrons and dots were perfect. You can find the pattern, and required frames from Emmaline Bags. It's a really great size and allows for a full lunch with all your reusable containers.
This is actually a set of PDF patterns. I made the rounded zip top one last year, and it's such a cute shape that my son has requested one this year. Head over to the Sew Sweetness site to see the other bags in the set.
My very first tutorial was for a lunch bag and I actually just retired the one made in this tutorial, to make room for another of the same design, but with a new print. These ones are so quick to make and have lots of room for containers, water bottle and ice pack.
These are so quick to make; it probably takes longer to decide on a pattern and print!
This pattern is in Handmade Style by Anna Graham of Noodlehead. I made this one in another fabric collection from Jackie McFee, this time is classic black and white with a pop of yellow from the zipper. If you're pressed for time but want to get a quick sew in, this is a great project. The binding makes it so fast and best of all: no hand sewing!
I made this large Sew Sweetness Filigree Double Zip Pouch, which works as a cosmetics pouch, but there's no reason it couldn't be used for pencils and other supplies. The pattern offers 3 sizes, so you could make one of each!
Sew Sweetness also offers this boxy version of a double zippered pouch, which looks to be perfect for school supplies.
Back to school doesn't always mean loaded up with text books. So many students heading back to campus leave the books and bring the tech!
This Messenger bag pattern is so versatile and I've seen many in masculine prints, making it perfect for boys and men.
This laptop bag from Sara Lawson's book Windy City Bags is on my must-try list. I think the unique design makes it so functional, yet stylish. I also like that it's easily unisex.
The Lilium Laptop Bag looks like a fancier take on the traditional messenger bag, and made with enough padding to protect your device.
I made this Tablet Shoulder Bag from the On-The-Go Bags book; this pattern is from Sara Lawson. I like that it looks like a purse, but it actually carries your tablet! There's a padded pocket inside to protect your device, plus plenty of room for a notebook and pencil case. I used yet another Jackie McFee collection of fabrics for this bag. I think the mint and grey colour combo is both trendy and sophisticated, plus the geometric prints remind me of DNA, taking me right back to my college days.
Here are a few projects that didn't fit into the other categories but they're great to have and worthy of a share.
I made this North Pond Notebook Cover from Radiant Home Studios (and you can read more about it here) as a cover for my bird journal, and I love the idea of covering a notebook for each class.
I've made several of these Sew Sweetness Creative Maker Supply Cases, and they really are great to have. You can customize the case so easily too! Any art student would be thrilled to have their supplies so nicely laid out and available. The pattern comes in 3 sizes: the small is perfect for a child's crayons and small colouring book (pictured below right). If you like the idea of the Creative Maker Supply Case, but think you need more storage, check out it's fully-loaded big brother version, the Ultimate Art Organizer.
You may have seen me post about this bag recently. I made the medium duffel for my son, and I think it would work for a gym bag for an athletic teen, with plenty of room for some books and lunch. Check this post for all the details.
Well, after compiling this round-up, I've concluded that Sara Lawson of Sew Sweetness must love back-to-school as much as I do. How about you? Are you doing any special sewing for this time of year?
I was ordering some fabric from Fabric Spark the other day and had a quick look around the site while I was there, and came across these adorable pirates from Makower. I had no idea what I would use them for, but as a typical fabric addict, I quickly talked myself into the purchase, figuring I may as well throw in a half yard because I'm paying for shipping anyway.
They arrived pretty quickly and as I was gazing at the fabric, an idea popped into my head. Don't you just love it when that happens?! I decided to make them into bean bags and create a tic tac toe game with them. The x's would be the skull and cross bones, and the o's would be the pirate faces, or "aarrgh's" if you channel your inner pirate.
This was such a quick project. The white border is 1/2" wide, so it left a 1/4" seam allowance for each bag. I made sure to pair up one skull and cross-bones with one pirate face for each bag, and made 10 bags, enough for either team to win.
Originally, I was going to use actual dried beans, as I've done with previous bean bags, but I had visions of my outdoor loving boys sneaking the pirates outside and ending up with stinky bags, so I decided to opt for the poly pellets. I used my 50% off coupon at Michael's for a 2lb bag, and it was well under $10, with lots left over.
For the board, I used a foam core board (again, from Michael's with a coupon), and washi tape.
The game was such a hit! My boys refuse to call out "Aaaarrgh!" when they win, but that doesn't stop me. Of course, you can make your own set with any 2 different ideas, but the pirates came in the perfect size, already measured, making it extra easy. Once they were done with tic tac toe, they set up some buckets for a bean bag toss and I was so pleased that they found a double duty for the project.
My son went to a summer day camp earlier this month and each day he needed to bring a towel and change of clothes, plus a few extras. It was a tight squeeze in his Not-So-Tiny Explorer, so I decided to quickly make him a Dallas. I asked around the internet and determined that the medium would be the right size for him (he's 7). Since I decided fairly last minute, I skipped the exterior and interior zippered pockets to save some time. I chose Libs Elliott's True Love fabric from Sitka Fabrics, and love that it turned out to be gender neutral and fun. If you are looking for a quick sew for an overnight or weekend bag, Dallas is a great choice!
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Hi! I'm Reece and I love to sew! I'm also a mom and a wife. I love being crafty and sharing tips.
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