Sewing on Bulletin Boards

Robert's 2nd grade bulletin board

Robert’s 2nd grade bulletin board

Some days it seems that sewing influences or impacts every aspect of my life.  Given the intense passion so many of us feel for textile arts, this influence should not surprise us.  Yet, it does, especially when sewing solves problems that seem to be unrelated to “needlearts.”

Laurel's 3rd grade bulletin board

Laurel’s 3rd grade bulletin board

Case in point–these bulletin boards for my homeschool classroom.  For the past week I have been tied up with my elderly aunt who broke her hip and had replacement surgery.  In spite of a medley of health problems and almost 90 years wear and tear on her fragile body, she has managed the bumps in the road and is recovering satisfactorily.  But in the meantime, the clock was tick tocking away the time and I fell further and further behind in my preparations for the upcoming school year.

My immediate problem was that the annual homeschool evaluation for  my grandchildren, 7 year-old Laurel and 6 year-old (today is his birthday!) Robert, was scheduled for today.  It was also our first day of Nana School.  My little classroom had to be ready, including new bulletin boards, lesson plans and cupcakes for the birthday boy. So how did sewing help me with the bulletin boards?



mirror imaged letters, printed on wrong side of paper

I decided on a Scrabble theme because currently, the children love the game, which they have been playing on i-phones in the car.  One stay-at-home day, their mother suggested they play the board game.  They were shocked! What?!#$????  There is a board game?  Times and children’s entertainment surely have changed.  But back to the bulletin boards…..


Fuse box doors serve as frames for the bulletin boards.


First, I needed to assemble all necessary supplies and there was no time for a run to the store.  I had to use what was on hand.

Small letters were on hand for the Scrabble board, left over from 1st grade phonics activities.  But I also needed big letters which were printed out as a template in PE-Design. A  block outline font was selected, in a size that would work for the board.  The letters were typed and then the design was mirror imaged or flipped.

This was done because the jump stitches show in a template.  Mirroring the design allowed me to cut from the wrong side of the paper and hide the jump stitches.  The letters were stapled to the foam core board.

Gingham fabric covers the foam core boards with the help of double sided tape.  I decided on gingham because it presented a grid for straight placement of the letters.  Rick rack creates a border, a second fabric makes the scrabble board and grosgrain ribbon conceals those raw edges.  Buttons covered the corners of the ribbon.

After struggling to staple the rick rack to the board, I finally decided to just sew it down.  How hard could it be?  The only hardship was managing the 11″ x 23″ board while free motion stitching the rick rack in place. The corner buttons were also sewn in place.

School window clings were on hand but instead of being affixed to the windows, they were added to the bulletin boards.


My handy husband refinished and refurbished this child's antique rolltop desk in 1977 for our son, father of Robert and Laurel. He loved his desk and so do his children.

My handy husband refinished and refurbished this child’s antique rolltop desk in 1977 for our son, father of Robert and Laurel. He loved his desk and so do his children.


I love teaching my grandchildren.  The utility room has been dedicated for classroom space and while it is not spacious, nor do we have any wall area at all, it has worked out very well.  Just as I managed to make do with what I had on hand for the bulletin boards, we have used our available resources for the need at hand.


Each student's best work is displayed on Hoosier cabinet doors.

Each student’s best work is displayed on Hoosier cabinet doors.


The old Hoosier cabinet has been repurposed as a supply closet, with paper and other supplies.  The doors serve as wall space for the children’s best work.


Nana School library

Nana School library


The bookshelves that my husband built years ago now house our little library.   The children’s books are on lower shelves while my teaching books are higher.

So often I think back to my years spent teaching Sunday school and public school.  If I had had machine embroidery, sewing computer programs and all the technology of  today, it would have been so much easier and more joyful.  But would I have thought then to use these resources in such an unorthodox manner? I don’t know.  I’m just happy that I have them now.

Talk about sewing or impacting my life and solving problems!  Would I have ever dreamed of sewing up bulletin boards?  It’s just like the children’s amazement that there is a physical Scrabble game.

Have you used your sewing machine or techniques in an unusual way?  I’d love to hear about it.


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