Friday, June 15, 2012

Gifts for Teachers

Why do I torture myself by waiting till the last minute?  I started these totes the day before I was supposed to deliver them.  Seriously, I was up till the wee hours of the morning finishing them up.

They are part of a gift set that me and a couple of other moms put together for s's teachers as an end-of-the-year gift.  The totes were filled with summer essentials including flip-flops, sunscreen, and a bottle of wine.  The other two moms also made handmade items:  personalized cups and journals and bookmarks made from vintage books.  I wish I had taken pictures of the gifts once they were put together. They were truly amazing.
   As a former teacher, I am happy to show my gratitude to those who have dedicated their lives to nurturing other people's children.  I know from first-hand experience how hard they work.
Okay, I'll get off my soapbox and let you in on the deets.  The pattern is The Jane Market Bag designed by the super-talented Alicia Paulsen of Posy Gets Cosy.  By the way, I am also happy to support our local (Portland, OR)  artists and businesses.  It's an easy and quick tote, no pattern pieces, just dimensions that you measure out yourself.  I changed a few things though.  First, I only had pockets on one side because I cut out two pocket pieces and sewed them together thinking that they were lined, then I was in too much of a hurry to pick the seam apart and decided that the bag only really needed the one pocket anyway.  I also added a double-stitched seam about two thirds of the way down from the top of the pocket; I just felt that the pocket was too deep without the seam.  Another modification that I made was to sew the handles between the lining and the top layer for a cleaner look.  The handles were ready-made nylon straps, a nice short-cut which I am sure saved me an hour of so of work.  
The lining was made from laminated cotton that I had laying around and the outside fabrics were duck cloth for the solids and outdoor canvas for the prints.  The laminated cotton was kind of a chore to deal with.  I had to pull the fabric through the feed because it kept getting stuck.  I believe that a teflon foot would have helped.  Or maybe tape under the foot?  And a word of warning on sewing with outdoor canvas.  Make sure that your iron is not too hot or you will burn a hole through the fabric.  I found this out the hard way.

The pattern's instruction in regards to the pleats on the sides of the bags was to put together the whole bag first, then sew a seam down the side, catching the lining in the seam.  Because I was using heavier fabrics than the calico that the pattern recommended, I felt that this was not feasible.  So before joining the lining and the main bag, I sewed the pleats on the outside only; the lining was left unatached except for the top. 

On a final and somewhat related note, I will leave you with pictures of S on her first and last day of preschool, wearing her Oliver and S playdate dress.

First day of school (above).  Last day of school (right).
Look how much she's grown!


  1. You are an awesome mom! I bet the teachers loved the gifts!

    1. I would be more awesome if I wasn't such a procrastinator. but yes, they did love their gift.

  2. such cute bags! i love the first and last day of school photos, she is adorable :)

  3. haha, i do the same thing. always last minute. love the first/last day of school photos, too! i'll need to remember to do that next year (eeeek!). :)

    1. It's fun to look back and see how little they were.

  4. Great job on those bags! I complete agree with you about the effort and dedication that goes into being a teacher. My daugther's last day is this week. You've got me inspired!


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