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DIY Homemade Tags for Your Kid’s Clothing

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When we put Eva in preschool, we entered a new world of chaos. School comes with new germs, new schedules, new faces, and a black hole that sucks up loose gloves and hats. It’s a requirement that any clothing Eva takes to school be labeled with her name…a fact I discovered in the middle of the night before Eva’s first day of school (when I finally got around to reading the packet they had sent home). The result was a few scribbles of permanent marker on the inside of her clothes, which ultimately became either illegible or messy.

The Sharpie thing wasn’t working for us because you could barely read the writing and it was ruining Eva’s clothes for anyone else. A ton of Eva’s stuff has come from hand-me-downs and I’m quite aware of the fact that her clothes will someday end up in someone else’s closet, so I hate to start inking them up by scribbling her name all over them. So, I decided to make some tags that could be easily stitched in and then cut back out when the time came. You don’t have to know anything about sewing to stitch on a tag and it only takes about five minutes, so I’ve been able to do a ton of her clothing at once while we sit down to watch New Girl.

The idea behind DIY fabric tags is simple: iron-on transfer paper + small name/logo that will fit onto fabric ribbon + fabric ribbon + heat = ribbon with iron-on names/logo ready to be cut into tags and sewn onto clothing.

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I started this project by completely screwing up. The tags were made using iron-on transfer paper and the first time I made a sheet of tags I forgot to reverse the text. When you use transfer paper, the side that you see is actually the side that will be sticking to the fabric, so you need to reverse the text to make it readable:

I also changed the design so that the tags would be easier to read for Eva and so that they went onto the ribbon sideways. Originally, I was thinking it would be better if the tags were long and thin, but then I realized that the ribbon I had bought was fraying a little so I needed the top (stitching) edge to be one of the finished edges of the ribbon.

Once I got my names printed correctly and cut them down into squares that would fit on the ribbon, I was ready to iron. I put a cutting board on my ironing board so that I could use a harder surface (better for iron-ons) and covered it with a dishtowel. Then I let my iron heat to the “cotton” setting and pressed each iron-square to the fabric ribbon for 20 seconds.

The result was ribbon that looked like it was printed with Eva’s name (with that finished edge up top so I can sew it to her clothes without having it fray). I peeled a couple of the protective backing squares off so you could see what the name looks like, but I left most of them on since I wasn’t ready to sew on all 100 tags right at that very moment.

When I was finished, I rolled the ribbon back up for storage. The whole project took me about half of the movie The African Queen to give you some idea. If you’ve never seen The African Queen (1) it took me about 45 minutes and (2) you need to stop reading this blog and go find The African Queen so you can watch it immediately. It’s on demand on Netflix right at this very moment! Absolutely one of the best movies ever made.

To make the tags, I just cut the right amount of ribbon out and did a quick stitch to attach it to either the seam or the existing tags already in her clothing. This ribbon is pretty soft and shouldn’t bug her, but I think I’ll try a different one next time because this one does fray quite a bit. Of course, with 100 tags made, I won’t be making any new tags in the near future!

Bonus: Eva recognizes enough letters to know her name when she sees it and she’s been really excited about pointing out that this is Eva’s coat, Eva’s hat, Eva’s pants, etc. I even tagged a few stuffed animal friends just for fun!

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16 Comments

  • Reply Hope

    This is such a cool and cute idea. It’s awesome that Eva can recognize her name already. My mom used to just do the Sharpie thing. It actually worked and when I unloaded a bunch of my old clothes into donation piles, it made me wonder how many people would be walking around with “Hope” brand clothes. lol

    November 15, 2012 at 4:34 pm
  • Reply Jennifer

    Great tutorial can’t wait to try it. You could try heat sealing the edges of the ribbon to keep it from fraying.

    June 25, 2013 at 10:38 am
    • Reply Carly

      Smart idea! Thanks!

      June 26, 2013 at 7:12 pm
  • Reply Monica

    Does the iron-on transfer do well in the washer/dryer process?

    November 1, 2013 at 11:14 pm
    • Reply Carly

      Yep, they seem to be just fine. No fading and our dryer is extra hot.

      November 8, 2013 at 7:26 pm
  • Reply Yvonne @ Dress This Nest

    This is such a fantastic idea and would also be great for making homemade clothes look more legit or for Etsy shop owners who sell home-sewn clothes to make their pieces look more professional. Love it! And pinning 😉

    January 25, 2014 at 9:41 pm
    • Reply Carly Morgan

      Yes! These are also great for holiday gifts if you’re making a bunch of potholders, etc., for the neighbors. Glad you liked the tutorial!

      January 27, 2014 at 1:36 am
  • Reply Gabriela

    Love this idea! Wonder if maybe clear nail polish would help stop the fraying…

    March 26, 2014 at 7:28 pm
  • Reply Susie Lee

    Fantastic idea! You know, if you take a lighter and run it across the ends where you cut, it will singe the ends and seal them so they won’t fray.

    June 10, 2014 at 10:30 pm
  • Reply Judy Jones

    There is a product called Fray-Check used by sewers and quilters that could be put on the ends of the name tags to prevent fraying.

    August 30, 2014 at 3:05 pm
    • Reply Carly Morgan

      Thanks for sharing!

      September 10, 2014 at 7:02 pm
  • Reply Andrea

    Love this idea! Saved me from writing on my daughters clothes!

    September 6, 2014 at 9:15 am
    • Reply Carly Morgan

      Fantastic! Glad I could help!

      September 10, 2014 at 7:02 pm
  • Reply nicole

    I found a product called tear mender, no sewing needed. it’s like glue for clothing!
    https://www.tearmender.com/

    August 6, 2015 at 1:09 pm
  • Reply Brandi

    I love this tutorial! (And, I love THE AFRICAN QUEEN!) 🙂

    November 23, 2015 at 2:51 pm
  • Reply Deb

    Just found this post and so glad I did! Thanks for sharing

    February 22, 2016 at 1:49 pm
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