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30+ Cute Things to Make for Back to School

Does the start of the school year have you itching to make something new? If so, then you may love today’s post.  I’ve scoured the web to find more than 20 cute things to make for Back to School.

Many of these items make fantastic Teacher Appreciation Gifts as well! If you like this post, then you may also like these 25 Halloween Sewing Project Ideas. 

Things to make for back to school

Every year it seems like summer flies by. I always have mixed feelings when it comes to the first day of school. On the one hand, I love the schedule-free days and the opportunity to “lay around” the house all day. On the other hand, after a few days of “laying around the house,” my kids tend to get a bit ornery, and I’m faced with trying to find things for us to do.

20+ DIY Back to School Projects

Either way, I love “back-to-school season.”  I love walking into Target and seeing the stacks of pencils and crayons. I love the anticipation of a new year with its new challenges.

When I was in college, I loved the day that I’d go to the bookstore and pick up my books for the year (I didn’t love the bill so much, but I loved rifling through all the books at the BYU bookstore).

If the back-to-school season has you itching to make something, today, I’ve rounded up more than 20 projects that perfectly embody the spirit that comes with this time of the year.

This article has been updated from a previous version to include some of our newest crafts projects & sewing tutorials.

Pencil Pouch Sewing Patterns & Tutorials

Oil cloth pencil pouch sewing pattern -clever idea for back to school or a teacher appreciation gift

1. Oilcloth Pencil Pouch:

This simple Oilcloth pencil pouch is SO easy to stitch that you don’t even need to line it!  Just use a rotary cutter to finish off the edges!

Chalkboard pencil pouch sewing pattern -clever idea for back to school or a teacher appreciation gift

2. Chalk Cloth Pencil Pouch:

Have a student who loves to doodle? Make them their own chalk cloth pencil pouch, and they can doodle the day away.

Cute pencil pouch sewing pattern, love the addition of chalkboard fabric to the front

3. Chalkboard Zip Pouch:

This pouch uses just a bit of chalk cloth, so you can customize it as you like. Add a name or a fun “word of the day” to the front.

4. How to Make a Simple Zip Pouch:

In this tutorial, I walk you through the basics of creating a zip pouch. The tutorial includes instructions and tips to create a zip pouch in any size that you’d like. There’s even a video to help you along the way.

NASA pencil pouch on blue background

5. Easy Pencil Pouch Pattern:

This pencil pouch is so simple to stitch up! Let your kids personalize it with their favorite fabrics.

DIY Notebooks & Bookmarks

text overlaid image of striped notebooks on wood table top

6. Fabric Covered Notebooks:

Dress up a set of plain notebooks with a bit of fabric and applique! It makes taking notes so much more fun!

7. Scrappy Bookmarks:

These cute bookmarks are a great way to use up your bin of fabric scraps!

Rainbow Felt bookmark on polka dot journal

8. Elastic Bookmarks:

This bookmark is sewn onto a large elastic, which helps it to stay in place, so you won’t lose your spot when you’re reading.

How to make bookmarks out of fabric a fun back to school craft idea - easy fabric bookmarks tutorial #bookmarks #Diybookmarks #easyschoolproject #backtoschool #backtoschoolcrafts #kidscraftsschool #summerreading

9. Easy Fabric Bookmarks

You can get much simpler than these cute bookmarks! Alicia uses a Cricut machine to save time in the construction process.

Reading & Book Pillows

Study Pillow Sewing Pattern- love the pockets!

11. Study Pillow:

Know a kid who loves to tote their homework with them all over the house? Make them a handy study pillow so they can stash their stuff easily. This project is from my book, Project Teen.

I have another version of the pattern for sale in my shop.

Reading pillow construction steps on white cutting mat
Sewing Pattern for an "On the Go Reading Pillow" a cute pocket pillow for kids

12. On the Go Reading Pillow or Pocket Pillow:

When I first designed this pattern over 11 years ago, I had no idea how popular it would become!

These fun reading pillows would be great for a “new” reader and make wonderful gifts! They are one of the most popular projects on this site! You can find a PDF version of this in the shop. The pattern has instructions to make the pillow in two different sizes.

Lunch Box and Book Bag Patterns

Chubby Lunch Tote Sewing Pattern

13. Chubby Lunch Tote

Another CUTE lunch tote sewing pattern! I love that this one has lots of room for yummy treats!

Simple Summer Backpack Sewing Pattern by Melissa Mortenson of polkadotchair.com

14. Drawstring Backpack:

If your little ones aren’t quite ready for a large backpack, this simple drawstring bag may be just right!

The Derby Tote Bag Sewing Pattern; great simple and versatile tote bag pattern that features 3 different front pocket styles. Great project for a beginning sewist.

15. Derby Tote- Simple Book Bag

This simple tote bag may be just what your teen needs to take with them to class! They also make great library bags.

four striped pouches on wood table with harry potter wand

16. Hogwarts House Zip Pouches

The stripes on these cute zip pouches are made with fabric. Create them to match your Hogwarts House! If you’re not a Harry Potter fan, these are also cute made from your school colors. Many schools also sell iron on patches as well.

kids library bag

17. Simple Library Bag Tutorial:

Help encourage kids to keep track of their Library books with this cute tote bag. It’s a beginner-level sewing project. This pattern is straightforward to construct.

duffle bag in blue check in front of white peg wall

18. Saturday Duffle Bag:

This duffle bag pattern comes in 3 different sizes. They are great bags for kids to tote with them to all of their after-school activities, from dance class to sports! Making it easy for you to pick the size that’s just right for your kid’s needs.

Cute Quilts to Make for Back to School

Half Square Triangle Quilt by Diary of a Quilter

19. Half Square Triangle Quilt 

The fun primary colors in this quilt make it perfect for Back to School!

Gingham quilt pattern on white wall

20. Gingham Daydream Quilt:

This fun quilt can be made in a variety of colors. It’s the perfect size to use for a bit of backyard reading!

Back to School Crafts

22. Shark Pencil Pouch:

Make every week Shark with this fun DIY Shark Pencil Pouch.


22. DIY Disney Notebooks

Cover a simple composition notebook with one of our specially designed papers inspired by some of my favorite Disney movies.

Cute DIY Harry Potter pencil pouches. Easy to make DIY iron ons using a Cricut machine. Such a cute back to school project!

23. Harry Potter Inspired Pencil Pouches.

If you’re disappointed that you’re merely a Muggle headed back to school, you can whip up a set of these pencil pouches with a bit of Iron-On Vinyl and channel your “inner wizard.” There is a free SVG file to create the pouches on our blog.

DIY Harry Potter Hogwarts Notebooks; with free printable covers for each house on polkadotchair.com

24. Hogwarts Inspired House Notebooks:

Pretend you’re going back to school at Hogwarts with these Harry Potter Inspired Pencil Pouches and these Hogwarts House Notebook Covers!

Back to School Craft Idea or Teacher Appreciation gift, a personalized DIY Ruler Wreath!

25. Ruler Wreath:

This Ruler Wreath is a fun way to celebrate back to school at your house, and it’s crazy easy to make!

Cute ideas for summer journals for kids. Would be great for road trips!

26. DIY Covered Notebooks:

Fancy up some simple composition notebooks with your kid’s favorite characters!

27. Pointillism Notebook: This notebook is so simple, but the impact is nothing but!

DIY "Back to Snooze" t-shirts for Back to School for Teens

28. Hit Snooze – Back to School T-Shirts:

These DIY Back to School or “Back to Snooze” t-shirts are such a cute idea for teens and tweens! Click through to even a cut file to make your own!

Back to School Organization DIYs

DIY Monogrammed Memo Board made from an acoustic ceiling tile, super easy!

29. Monogrammed Memo Board:

At least “attempt” to stay organized this year with this DIY memo board and Back to School Homework Station! You know what they say “A place for everything and everything in its place!”

Make homework time easier by creating this moveable "Homework Station" on your kitchen table. Includes all the things kids might need when they are doing their homework.

30. DIY Kitchen Homework Station:

A few years ago, I got tired of always searching for pencils and erasers for homework time. So I created a homework station and afterward wondered why I never thought of it before.

Teacher Gift Ideas

fabric pennant on classroom door

31. We Love our Teacher Banner:

If you’re looking for something fun to make for a teacher, they might like one of these easy fabric banners! They are great classroom door decorations! They require a bit of sewing but are made from a 5″ stack of fabric, so there is minimal cutting.

32. Keychain Chapstick Holder:

These little chapstick holders are easy to make and can easily be attached to a teacher’s lanyard.

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One Comment

  1. Love the cover-up. Looks like something to wear around the house in the cool summer mornings or for lounging. Thanks so much for the free pattern. Love your sight.

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