Back 2 School with Peekaboo: DIY Fabric Labels!

Cover pic collage

Hard to believe it’s that time of year again! I feel like I’m behind the curve a bit, since we don’t return to school until the beginning of September – I’m still busy finishing up the last of the swimsuits and sundresses! (Pop quiz – does anyone recognize the pattern in the photo above? Hint: It’s an oldie but goodie. One of my faves, in fact.)

Miss P is headed to kindergarten this year, and I’ve come to terms with the need to label her things. Each year of preschool, I’d label her backpack and a couple of sweatshirts or jackets, but as her wardrobe became more handmade, her teachers knew what was hers since nothing had store tags in it! 😉 I did a little impromptu labeling last year (especially for things that were too dark for a black Sharpie), and thought I’d share what I used since it was quick, easy, and inexpensive. It’s actually a great project for the tiniest of scraps!  You can see in the pic above what you’ll need – sharp scissors, fusible adhesive, and a good fine point fabric pen or marker. For fusible adhesive, you can use Heat n Bond or another iron-on adhesive. Pellon makes Wonder-Under and also EZ Steam, as shown in the photo. Heat n Bond lite is what I usually keep on hand for appliques, so I use it here, although you may want to use the permanent version instead. The Lite version (and Wonder-Under) is meant to be topstitched after ironing in place, and can sometimes peel up in the wash. I think it’s good for labels, though, especially if you plan on handing down outgrown clothes.


I love using plain ol’ white Kona cotton for labels, but fun and bright knits work well too. Don’t rule out stripes since they help keep your text nice and straight! Labels don’t have to be for names, either – you can use a first initial, monogram, three initials, or even just a cute little image. I use little labels like the butterfly above to help Miss P tell which is the back of her leggings when she gets dressed. She likes having a fun little surprise, and I like that she goes to school with her pants on in the right direction. 😉 Seriously, though, this is a great way to encourage independence. It helps my kids get themselves dressed, and helps them identify their things at school when they’re in the heap with everyone else’s hoodies. Since knits don’t fray, the process is super easy. Iron the adhesive onto the back of your fabric scrap per manufacturer’s instructions, cut out your “label”, and iron it into the garment (also per manufacturer’s instructions). Different adhesives have different recommended procedures – some use steam and some require a dry iron, for example. Make sure to read the instructions before ironing, so you don’t risk ruining your garment.



If you choose to use woven fabric to make your labels, you’ll do the same as above and fuse your adhesive before cutting. I recommend cutting on the bias to minimize fraying – the labels will hold up much better in the wash this way! If you’re not sure how to determine what is the bias, here are a few images that will hopefully help. The grain of the fabric runs parallel to the selvage edge, which is the ” factory finished” edge of the fabric. Basically, cutting fabric on the bias means to cut diagonal to the grainline and the selvage.



I took the above striped fabric and cut it three ways to show this a bit more clearly.


It sure is a lot easier to see the difference on striped fabric! Back to my basic white labels, though. You don’t need a lot of fabric at all – in the following example, I am using a square that is 6″ x 6″. You’ll want to fuse the adhesive to the back before cutting it, since it will help stabilize the fabric and keep your cuts even.


I start with one diagonal cut from corner to corner, and then use my ruler to cut additional lines in even increments toward each of the other corners. When I turn the pieces so the strips are oriented horizontally, you can see how they’re starting to look rather label-ish. You can also see that I’m a bit giddy about my kids’ return to school, even if it’s isn’t anywhere near full time for them yet. (That’s me, tearing my hair out. Or exploding confetti lol.) MOM. NEEDS. A. BREAK. 😉


Anyway, I digress. Back to our tutorial, which is about done here. Write out your labels, trim them further if desired, and iron into garments. Admire your handiwork and resourcefulness, and go back to sewing up those school clothes. Or, if you’re me, finishing that swimsuit that is ALMOST done.




Oh, and Miss P’s dress? It’s an Ivy sundress, with a bow instead of a twist accent. Easiest little knit dress that’s great for summer and one of the first knit patterns I ever used. 🙂 Make sure to stop by the Peekaboo group on Facebook to share what you’ve been working on, too!


One Response

  1. This came at the perfect time! I was making pajamas for my girls and used this tutorial to add a heart to indicate the back. Brilliant!

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