12 Ideas for Back-to-School Embroidery Projects

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This is my first year with a child in big-kid school rather than preschool, so embroidering for back-to-school is on the top of my summer embroidery project list. 

That and using my Cricut Maker to personalize the blanks that aren’t able to be embroidered with my single-needle embroidery machine. Such as reusable water bottles. 

If you also want to get a jump-start on preparing for the upcoming school year, check out these fun back-to-school embroidery project ideas!

back to school embroidery ideas

Back-to-School Embroidery Ideas

Here are some fun things I’ve embroidered or considered embroidering for back-to-school so far. Let me know if you have anything else to add! 

1. Lunch Boxes

back to school lunch box

Soft lunch bags are easy to embroider using wash-away or tear-away stabilizer with a little spray adhesive or a sticky, self-adhesive surface.

Plus, adding a name or initials to the lunch box is a surefire way to make sure it doesn’t get misplaced during the school year, right? I sure hope so!

See the whole process in my tutorial for how to monogram a lunch box.

2. Backpacks and Sports Bags

embroidered backpack

If you can hoop the backpack in a single layer and the fabric isn’t too thick, embroidering a backpack is a breeze.

I embroidered my niece’s Vera Bradley quilted backpack earlier this month with her name, and it turned out really well. (The picture doesn’t really do it justice.)

For non-stretchy backpack fabrics, one layer of tear-away stabilizer should be sufficient for most designs. Since hooping a backpack may be difficult, consider using sticky, self-adhesive tear-away for stabilization or adding a basting box if the extra needle penetrations won’t injure the fabric. 

embroidered duffel bag

For kids who do sports, gym bags are also easy to embroider. Add a name or monogram to the side or even to a strap for easy customization!  

3. Pencil Bags

embroidered pencil bag

If you have a single-needle embroidery machine without a free arm, you are limited in pencil bags that you can embroider.

Pick a bag that you can unzip and make it flat, or get friendly with your seam ripper. Once you’ve seam ripped to open bag into a single layer, you can then sew it up again after embroidering.

embroidered pencil bag in the hoop

Another option is to create your own pencil bags in the hoop like the one I made above from Planet Applique!

This works for users who have a machine with a fairly large max hoop size. Here are two other fun ITH designs to consider:

  1. High Top Shoe Zipper Bag
  2. Pencil-Shaped Zipper Bag

4. Shoelaces

final product! embroidered shoelaces

Embroidering shoelaces has been a fun back-to-school embroidery project idea now that my older daughter finally knows how to tie shoes! 

These were easy to embroider using a layer of water-soluble topping and a base layer of sticky, self-adhesive tear-away stabilizer. 

Read more in the tutorial for making custom shoelaces to see the process!

5. Shoes

how to machine embroider a shoe

If you’re going to embroider shoelaces, you might as well consider adding custom designs to shoes themselves.

Converse shoes are the easiest to embroider on a single-needle machine because of their long tongue. Other brands work well, too, as long as you carefully place the design and take care with positioning.

This is also something more easily done with a multi-needle embroidery machine with a free arm. However, it’s not impossible on a single-needle machine. 

Learn how to make custom embroidered shoes in this tutorial!

6. Pencil Toppers

ith pencil topper

For younger children, in-the-hoop pencil toppers are fun to add to regular old pencils. (Although, apparently, my kindergartener needs a laptop or tablet at school and home?! So, I’m not sure how often she’ll actually be using pencils.)

The above pencil topper I made using a design from Embroidery Super Deal

Here are three other fun pencil topper design ideas:

  1. Fairy wand pencil toppers (these are so cute!)
  2. Dinosaur pencil toppers
  3. Mermaid tail pencil toppers

7. Backpack Swag or Key Fobs

ITH Key Fobs
Image used with permission from Creative Fabrica. Digitized by DesignedbyGeeks.

There are many options for in-the-hoop projects to attach to kids’ backpacks or sports bags. Like backpack name tags, sports bag tags, and even hand sanitizer holders. One other option is to embroider a key fob. 

Creative Fabrica has several blank key fob shapes and sizes to add your own initial, monogram, or other small design onto. You can also digitize your own shapes easily in embroidery software. 

Keyfobs are a fun, quick, and easy in-the-hoop embroidery project. Sometimes I even like using my Cricut to cut the perfect vinyl shape before embroidering. (Check out using a Cricut with an embroidery machine for more details!)

8. First-Day-of-School Outfits

Unique Baby Girls Back to School Bus Shirt Boutique Outfit (4T/M, Black)

Whether it’s adding names or logos to school uniforms or designing first-day-of-school outfits (check out these fun designs as well as these designs for ideas!), embroidering shirts, dresses, and jackets is a fun way to personalize outfits for kids. 

I’ve also considered using my Cricut to add names to the tags of all of their jackets. Either that or taking my trusty Sharpie to them! 

To learn tips and tricks for stitching knit shirts, check out this t-shirt embroidery tutorial

9. Hair Bows

how to embroider hair bows

You can create your own bows from ribbon or buy hairbows in bulk and add names, monograms, and other fun, small designs to them! I’m already thinking of the bows I can embroider for the first-day-of-school outfits I’ll pick out soon. 

When embroidering, make sure the end of the bow’s ribbon is long enough to adhere securely to your stabilizer, and choose a design or font that’s digitized for this small of a scale. 

Tutorial: how to embroider hair bows.

10. In-the-Hoop Bookmarks

ith bookmark for school
Image used with permission from Creative Fabrica. Digitized by Garden of designs.

There are so many in-the-hoop bookmark designs for kids who still enjoy the art of reading paper books and textbooks.

You can make corner bookmarks (like the one above from Garden of designs) or embroider full-size rectangular bookmarks in the hoop. There are even free-standing lace bookmark designs if you poke around enough design sites!

This post for where to download in-the-hoop machine embroidery designs is a good place to start if you’re looking for sites that specialize in in-the-hoop designs. 

11. Nap Mats

Urban Infant Personalized Tot Cot All-in-One Modern Preschool/Daycare Nap Mat with Washable Pillow and Elastic Straps - Dinosaurs

Most kids in my daughter’s preschool have embroidered nap mats.

Adding a name to a nap mat is a great idea because, at the beginning of the year, the teachers know whose mats are whose! If you prefer to invest significantly into this project, you can even sew your own first.

12. Laptop or Tablet Case

Amazon Basics 11.6-Inch Laptop Sleeve - Light Blue

For kids who need to tote laptops or tablets around, an embroidered case is another great back-to-school embroidery idea. 

Many laptop bags are more easily embroidered on a multi-needle embroidery machine with a free arm. Thus, I prefer to use my Cricut to apply iron-on vinyl to blanks like these that aren’t as easy to open and spread flat. 

things to embroider for back to school - projects

Free Back-to-School Machine Embroidery Designs

Now, if you’re looking for some freebie inspiration, here are a few links to free school embroidery designs. 

And, that’s it for my list of back-to-school machine embroidery projects. Let me know what you’re stitching these days!

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