Category Archives: school accessories

Fast and Fun Halloween Projects

With so many schools relegated to virtual on-line computer classes and Halloween activities being cancelled, it seems more important than ever for our children to have some fall festival fun. These projects are fun to make and fun to share.

These darling pencil toppers were just sent to my younger grands to share with their classmates, by mailing them to their friends. Did you know that Halloween is the most popular secular holiday in the USA? Just ask my grandchildren. They are crazy for this time of year. Last month, 6 yo Vivian Rose told me she was counting the days until Oct. 1 so she could start wearing her Halloween clothes.

This is a bit of a joke, as she is required to wear a uniform to school–when she went off to school. But still she dresses for “class” at her computer desk at home. So hairbows, headbands and pencil toppers are her extra Halloween expressions for the school day.

These pencil toppers from GG Designs are just a joy to stitch out. They come as a single design or “sorted” with four pumpkins or ghosts or bats in a single 4×4 hoop. I combined 2 sorted sets of pumpkins into a larger hoop, did another color sort and stitched 8 pencil toppers in just a few minutes. This was repeated with the ghosts and then with the bats. It takes longer to cut out the felt designs than it did the stitch them. Now the set is on sale for only $4.13.

What a sweet little gift this would be to a favorite elementary teacher to share with her in-house students. There are so many who would be happy to receive these slightly spooky pencil toppers.

GG Designs Embroidery was the inspiration for another Halloween favorite which was sent to my grandchildren last Halloween. This was digitized and also stitched for the children at church, making me one of the more popular church Nanas!

As a paid Brother Ambassador (required disclosure), the project was posted at Brother’s blog, Stitching Sewcial and includes a step-by-step photo tutorial, as well as a FREE download of the file for the pumpkin.

There is still plenty of time to whip up these cuties. For your children, grands, neighbors, church children or for nursing home patients, these pumpkin treat bags are sure to bring a smile.

Free Happy Face Pencil Toppers

My turn to present the Children’s Message at church came this week just in time for back-to-school.

The children range in age from 4-10 so the message needed to be catchy to get their attention and brief enough to keep that attention.  Additionally, there must be a meaningful message.

This bag and fabric was a gift to me from the Ghana mission team in thanks for the garments our sewing group made. The bright colors certainly caught the children’s attention.

With a large, colorful  tote bag next to me,  I mentioned that they had all begun a new school year.  Then I asked what they learn at school.  The answers were just as expected–math, reading, manners and to be kind (that was nice to hear).

They were curious about the bag but I said they would see what was in it later.  It was a surprise.  Darling tow-headed Reid, 4 yo,  had snuggled up to me before the service began and sneaked a look in the bag.  He shouted smugly, “I know what the surprise is!!!!” Continue reading

Jungle Book Cot Sheet



During my lengthy absence from this blog, I did get some sewing done.  This cot sheet is a fun little project.  It can be plain or fancy, utilitarian or heavily embroidered as is this one.

First, I have to be up front with you all–my name is Janice and  I am a textile snob.  My linen closet has nothing but pima cotton sheets.  My master, guest and children’s beds have always been made up with silky pima cotton.

Many years ago, there was a brief and almost sleepless few days when my 8 yo son slept on stiff and scratchy Garfield sheets.  They were a gift for which he had begged his grandmother.  After a week, he wanted his old sheets back.  “They just don’t feel good, Mama.”  From the mouths of babes–raised on pima.

Before she even moved into her freshman dorm at University of Florida, my daughter begged me to custom make two sets of pima cotton sheets for the odd sized mattress.  She was like the Princess and the Pea.  “Mama, I won’t be able to sleep on anything else!”

So what does this have to do with Disney’s Jungle Book themed cot sheet shown above? Continue reading

Halloween “Jane”

corn pump cr

“Candy Corn Cutie” design is from Embroidtique.

Children’s Corner Jane has got to be one of my all-time favorite patterns.  When it comes to play clothes or holidays with a short-wearing season, this is my go-to.

It is so quick and easy that I made two Jane tops for toddler granddaughter Vivian Rose.  Two!!!!

candy corn emb

Poor placement of text on fabric.  It would have been so much more readable if it had been embroidered on the almost white stripe.

Continue reading

Back to School ’14


Five years ago, my  5 year old granddaughter wore a CC Frannie school dress for our first day of homeschooling.


With the start of another school year, I can’t help but look back.  Most retired school teachers, I suspect,  do  the same.  This post was written 5 years ago as we began our first year of homeschooling together.

Now, she begins 6th grade.  Wow.  If she’s getting older, I guess that means so am I.

Laurel, 10 going on...?

Recently, she wrote a play which she will direct and has cast with friends. It will open at the public library in due time.


Perhaps you will find some of  these school sewing projects useful for your special students.  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Continue reading

Free Pattern for Must-Try Teepee Bags

1st aid bagsX

You can’t tell from the photo, but the fabric shows a variety of Girl Scout badges. I was tickled pink (ha!) to find this fabric on-line.

These FIRST AID bags were made for my 8 yo granddaughter Laurel. Next week, she will do a presentation to her Girl Scout troop as part of the first aid badge the girls are working on. At that time, she will hand out the bags and the girls will stock them with supplies.

UPDATE: Girl Scouts with bags:

girl scouts

You can’t tell from the photo, but the pink fabric is printed with images of Girl Scout badges. I had only 1/2 yd. which should have been enough. But there was a wide, brown border with text and numbers to be sewn on for troop identification. That didn’t leave enough badge print to make 6 suitably sized totes. So the pink fabric was serged on the short sides and then centered and zig zagged onto a piece of a homespun sort of muslin.

After I got that done, I realized that the muslin created a plain strip on either side of the zipper, suitable for text.The border hoop for my Brother Quattro made this quick and easy, by hooping just stabilizer, basting the fabric to the stabilizer with the baste feature, embroidering the text, then moving the stabilizer in the hoop for the next bag.

The design is too large for the 4 x 4 hoop, yet by using the 5 x 7 there would have been so much waste of stabilizer–not to mention the time involved in hooping 6 times.The border hoop was a wonderful time saver. Continue reading

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? Continue reading

Latin Shirts


Translation: I am fine. How are you?

Though sometimes called a dead language, Latin is very much alive in our homeschool classroom. Five year old Robert and 6 year old Laurel are literally singing their way through Song School Latin, a simple,  entertaining, age-appropriate curriculum, and loving every minute of it. In fact, it is Robert’s favorite subject and very close to the top of Laurel’s list.

Robert's shirt. Translation: Hello. What is your name?

Some people have commented that Latin is too difficult for children.  But it is a foreign language, much like Spanish which is taught routinely in Florida schools.  Roman children mastered Latin.  Why shouldn’t my grandchildren?

Recently, the children had to make a presentation at the weekly gathering of homeschoolers which they attend. They chose to report on their study of Latin. Of course, I wanted them to have something wear other than a toga so I made these shirts for that event.

The children wore their show-and-tell clothing proudly.  The Latin shirts were a big hit with the other students, most of whom were older.

The text for the shirt designs was created in PE-Design using the Gothic looking font #9. At Embroidery Library, one of my favorite sites, I found a design of the coliseum.

Making a volcano.

It included a tourist riding a bike which I deleted in order to make room for the text. The stepping stones had to be rearranged in BuzzEdit2 for the same reason.

I know, I know—I have gone on ad nauseum (see? You probably know Latin already!) about my love affair with machine embroidery, most especially about the ability to personalize items so specifically. Where, I ask, could you find Latin text children’s shirts in sizes 5 and 6 except in your own sewing room? Continue reading

School Bags

It’s back to school time again.  Mamas and Nanas have been sewing for some time to get ready for that first day of school.  Judy and her daughter Amy spent a week together sewing and these bags are just a few of their projects.  As usual, they are darling and so NOW!

The bags and matching lunch boxes were on sale at Gymboree.  One of the girls had this identical bag (without the monogram) last fall and wanted another just like it.  This year, she and her cousin both got the matching lunch boxes.

Back packs like these are tricky.  Make sure that you can hoop up a portion of the bag to embroider.  I’ve been looking for one for Laurel and most have an inside pocket or some impediment to embroidery.

I’m way behind schedule, but I’m off to Gymboree this weekend to see if I can find anything like this.  What a great start to 1st grade for these precious little girls.

What have you sewn for back to school this year?

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. Continue reading