Monday, May 13, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Gifts

I got a note in the bear cub's backpack saying that this past week was Teacher Appreciation week and telling us what we could do to show our appreciation that week.  It also listed their favorite colors, snacks, and drinks.  I decided to make them bags and spent last weekend making them.  I actually finished them Tuesday night and they went with the bear cub to school Wednesday this past week.  Two of these are actually for the nerdlet's teachers, but the bear cub has six teachers.  There is the main classroom teacher, the special education teacher, the speech therapist (the only therapy the bear cub gets is speech), and three aides.  I can't really express how pleased I am with how much care and attention that they give the bear cub and how well she is doing so I felt that this was more heart felt than sending a soda one day and a candy bar another.  These are the bags.

I also took a bunch of pictures so that I could post a tutorial.  I think this is about as easy as you can get for a lined, reversible bag and I'd love to know how if you think you can do it with fewer seams.

 First cut two fabrics: the first 18 x 42 inches and the second 18 x 35 inches.  Before actually cutting, I would measure the width of your fabrics because some fabrics that are supposedly 45 inches turn out to be less than 42 and if that is the case, you'll want to use that one for the shorter cut.  In the event they both are you can reduce the height of each of these by the same amount until you have enough fabric.

I use the leftover ends for the handles shooting for two pieces as close to 4 x 18 inches as I can.
Fold this piece in half wrong sides together and press.
Then I fold both of the raw edges inward and press again.
Then I topstitch both sides 1/8 inch from edge.  I made two of this bag and the two bags had different fabric for handles.

Now onto the bag itself.  Fold them both in half and sew the bag pieces 1/2 inch from the edge along the length so that your two pieces now measure 18 x 17 1/2 inches and 18 x 21 inches.

On the longer piece, cut out 5 1/2 inch squares from the seam and the bottom fold on each side (so the rectangle is actually 5 1/2 x 6 inches). 

From the other piece, cut out 2 inch squares from the seam and the bottom fold on each side (so the rectangle is actually 2 1/2 x 2 inches). 

At this point, you will want to open one (and only one - you'll be using the other one to turn the bag) of the 2 inch squares bringing the corners out to make a straight edge and sew 5/8 inch from the edge.

After sewing the first seam 5/8 inch from the edge, sew another 1/8 inch inside that seam.
Only one side is done at this point.
Open the 5 1/2 inch corners the same way.  Sew them both 5/8 inch across and again 1/8 closer to the edge.

Place the bags one inside the other right sides facing.  Match the seams of one bag halfway between the seams of the other bag.

Pin the handles in between the two layers.  Mine were three inches to each side of each seam.  Check to make sure the handle pieces lay in the same direction so that you handles do not twist in the final bag.

Sew around the top of the bag 1 inch from the edge.

Open the bag and pull the bag all the way through so that you only see right sides.

Almost there.  Now at the edge bring the bottom of the inside layer to the edge of the opening.  Fold one edge of the opening over the edge of the inside layer (I find it easier to do this with the seamed edge of the opening.  Fold the other edge inside touching the other folded under edge.
 Press and sew 1/8 inch from the edge making sure to secure the beginning and ending of your stitching.

 I match the other bottom edge of the inside layer to the other bottom edge of the outside layer and sew this side also 1/8 inch from the edge. So that both outside edges look like the bottom bag in this picture and both inside seams look like the top bag.

 Press the bag opening with one layer slight above the other.

Topstitch 1/8 inch from the edge and again 1/8 inch from the first seam.

Here are what the two sides of your reversible bag should look like.

 Your final bag should be super sturdy as none of the inside, supporting seams match up.


  1. I'm a special education teacher and that gift will knock their socks off. Awesome job!

    1. I'm glad to hear that. I actually sort of worried about these because lately I've seen a bunch of negative posts about handmade gifts being unwanted by teachers. I like to think mine are different because they are higher quality than those that are being talked about, but I imagine that everyone feels that way.