Greek Sewing



Greek life on college campuses can be a wonderful experience.  The costs vary according to school and fraternity, but the cost of the on-going gift giving can have an unexpected impact on the budget.

With back-to-school just around the corner and rush set to begin in a few weeks, it seems timely to offer these gift and garment ideas in the hope that it might be useful to those of you with co-eds packing for university.

Fortunately, my daughter’s sorority experience commenced after the machine embroidery explosion hit the sewing world.   The following text is taken from an article I wrote for Creative Needle  some time ago.  The photos are all taken from the magazine itself.




“It’s All Greek to Me”

On college campuses throughout the country, co-eds proudly wear Greek “letters” proclaiming their affiliation with a social sorority or service club. Students use surprisingly large portions of their budgets buying shirts, caps and other “lettered” items from the specialty stores found in every college town.



While many of these purchases are intended for the co-ed’s personal use, others are earmarked for gifts to big sisters, little sisters, roommates, pledge trainers, etc.

The demand for all things Greek offers the doting mama, grannie or auntie a bonanza of opportunities to create unique items for her favorite college student. The relief that such provision gives to the co-ed’s budget generates both heartfelt appreciation and welcome variation in the timeless collegiate litany, “Send money.” The new, oft heard plea might sound something like “Send a blue tee-shirt with……”


Greek sweatshirt


With the incredible capabilities of the home embroidery machines and the variety of excellent Greek alphabet collections available, there is no limit to the creative possibilities. Brother, Viking and a number of other companies offer Greek alphabets.

But even without hoop embroidery, the applique technique opens a world options. Shirts and totes can be applique’d with Greek letters exactly like those from the shops, without the use of an embroidery machine. It is easy enough to download Greek letters to use for a pattern.

Often, tee shirt shops will sell the commercially manufactured iron-on letters individually. From these, patterns can be made to trace onto fabric backed with iron-on fusible web. The letters are then cut out, ironed on and zig-zagged in place, exactly as is done in the specialty shops. The use of novelty fabric can further personalize the letters for the recipient.

Note that most often two sizes of the letters are layered one on top of the other. Be sure to purchase both sizes for each letter selected.


I loved sorority life when I was in college.  Of course, it was different then—curfew,  no boys allowed upstairs (now they are called men, whether or not they’ve held a job or contributed in any way to their support),  no smoking or chewing gum in public and sisterhood that was true and meaningful.

As a result of my positive experience, I encouraged my daughter to rush and was pleased when she joined my sorority.  One of the ramifications of her decision was that I was eligible to serve on the corporation board, helping to manage the sorority house itself.



15 years ago, every student did not have a cell phone. At the circa 1950 sorority house, a closet was converted into a private phone booth. These embroidered signs indicated what was behind closed doors.


That sent me on another sewing spree.  I monogrammed pillocases, sheets and towels for the guest room, aprons for the bus boys and cook as well as signs for the downstairs men’s and ladies’ rooms.

Sewing gave me an opportunity to share in my daughter’s collegiate experience–from a distance.  I loved it.

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