Xavier starts preschool this week and I am very likely more excited than he is. The kids are all required to have cubby bags and, after chatting with some veteran parents from the school, I learned three useful tidbits: (1) tote bags are preferred over backpacks since the kids’ art is large and plentiful and it’s much easier to roll and stuff it into open tote bags than backpacks, (2) the vast majority of students use the tote bags offered by the school that have the school name and logo on one side, and (3) the tote bag and every single thing that you pack in it for your child must be labeled with that child’s name. With all of this in mind, I decided to split the difference between conformity and creativity: I would buy one of the school’s totes (Xavier picked the red one) but do something a little more special than simply writing his name on it with a Sharpie.
In the name of being okay with “good enough” when it comes to these things (more on that in a later post), I tried to keep the project as simple as possible. After abandoning my early plans to applique fabric letters onto the bag, I ended up with a no sew project that took no time at all.
I started by picking out the fabrics I wanted to use for the letters. The school name and logo (on the front of the tote) are in black and white, so I stuck with the same color scheme. I wound up buying some fabric for the project because I didn’t have enough black and white fabric on hand, but this would be the perfect project for scraps if you had them.
I picked out the font I wanted to use and printed out Xavier’s name in a size that would fit well on the bag. I used this copy to hold up to the bag to get a sense of how it would look and to label which fabric I would use for each letter (I decided to alternate black and white fabrics). I then printed Xavier’s name as a mirror image to be used as a template for the letters for my bag. I opted to use Heat ‘n Bond Ultrahold iron-on adhesive to adhere the letters to the bag rather than appliqueing them in part because I already had some on hand, but also because I wasn’t sure how successfully I’d be able to sew through the fairly heavy canvas material the bag is made of.
After ironing the iron-on adhesive to the back of the fabric scraps, I used tracing paper to transfer the mirror image of each letter onto the paper backing of the appropriate fabric. (I used the mirror image since I was tracing the letters onto the back rather than the right side of the fabric.) Then I simply cut out the letters, peeled off the paper liner, placed them where I wanted them on the bag, and ironed them on. I still think they might look a little more polished if they were appliqued, but I don’t imagine Xavier will notice the difference. I also imagine I will be thankful I didn’t spend too much time on the bag when Xavier ______ (uses it as an art canvas/drags it through the mud/spills his snack on it/loses it). And the great preschool adventure begins.
Update (9/13/11): We didn’t even make it through the classroom door on Xavier’s first day of preschool before I noticed that a couple of the letters were pulling away from the bag at the edges. I could have probably fixed them with a little iron touch up, but in an effort to save myself from endless touch ups, I bit the bullet and straight stitched around the edges of the letters about 1/4 inch from the edge. My fears about the gooey needle that would result from ignoring Heat ‘n Bond’s explicit directions not to sew through their “ultrahold” product and the trouble I would have given the thickness of the canvas fabric were largely unfounded and the job didn’t take any longer than 10 minutes. The bag is now much more preschool proof and–as an added bonus–it looks more polished.