Easy Teacher Holiday Gift...for under $8.


With Thanksgiving done and Christmas fast on my heels, my (frugal) thoughts turn to all the great people in my daughter's life that we'd like to show a little appreciation to and for.  The nasty truth of it, however, is that while we all love the role models that enrich our kids' lives, we can't drop $20. for a gift card to every teacher, teacher's aide, swim coach, gymnastics mentor, dance instructor, etc.  A girl can feel broke just thinking about it.

I decided that this year, folks will be getting a DIY zippered pouch stuffed with useful, fun, tasty goodies.  (In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas, I hit the dollar store and Target clearance bins for great buys on hand sanitizer, pocket-sized tissue packs, lip balms, etc).

The one exception to the sewn, scrap-bustin' zippered pouch is a super quick men's cuff gift card holder.  We have one male teacher to buy for, so he's getting one of these upcycled holders.  It can be filled with a gift card or a nice note.  To make a shirt cuff gift card holder, simply cut off the cuff of a men's dress shirt (I used a shirt I bought for my husband and he refused to ever wear) and stitch up the sides:

Here's the dress shirt cuff gift card holder (above the two zippered pouches).

Here's the dress shirt I used. You could also make a zippered pouch from it, fussy cutting the front of shirt, using the buttons as an accent.


Two margaritas   It's straight-forward and easy, but the installation of the zipper makes it a 2 drink max rather than 3

So here's the less-than-exact, lazy way to whip up a holiday or teacher appreciation gift...



  • Scraps of fabric for outside of zippered pouches  (I used  great, shimmery holiday fabric that Nicole gave me...great taste, Nicole!)
  • Muslin or fabric for lining
  • Zipper (I used a 9" zipper)
  • Accent ribbon (optional)  I used a 7/8" red with white saddle stitch
  • 1/8" skinny ribbon for zipper pull accent (optional)
  • sewing machine with coordinating thread
  • zipper foot
  • walking foot (optional, but can help with keeping fabric layers from sliding while sewing)
  • Cutting mat and rotary cutter or scissors
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Goodies!  I used things I found on sale/ clearance/ at the dollar store:  hand sanitizer, pocket tissue packs, gum, holiday truffles, tinted and untinted lip balm, hand cream, travel size bottles of Febreez, etc
  1. Get your zipper out and use that as a guide when cutting your fabric for the outside fabric of your zippered pouch.  I went slightly wider than the ends of the zipper ends, and by that I mean the fabric of the zipper, not the actual zipper part itself.  My zipper was 9" so I ended up cutting my main body of the zippered pouch to 11" x 5".

Cut two pieces like this, one for the front and one for the back.  Then I cut two pieces 11" x 3" for the shorter piece on top of the main fabric piece.  You can choose to make the pouch as deep/ big as you like,  so make it your own!  So now you should have 4 pieces of fabric cut:  2 main pieces for the front/ back and 2 shorter pieces for the front/ back.

  1. Cut two lengths of ribbon to the width of your main fabric pieces.  I chose 7/8" ribbon for an accent, and it measured a little more than 11" long, knowing that some of that would get trimmed away. (I like to have it extend a little bit longer than the ends of the fabric so I can easily see how much ribbon will be exposed in step 4.

  2. Pin the accent ribbon to one of the raw edges of your shorter fabric pieces (in my case, the blue with snowflakes).  Fabric piece is right side up.

Do this with the other short piece, as well, for the back of your pouch.

Now sew each of the two pieces together, one for the front and one for the back of your pouch.  I used a 1/4" seam allowance.  Then, if your accent ribbon is fairly wide, sew it down along the other edge of the ribbon so it lies flush against your fabric.

  1. Now have your newly assembled piece (ribbon on top of shorter fabric) RIGHT SIDE UP and place the longer piece on top of it, WRONG SIDE UP and UPSIDE DOWN.

 Hint:  Test it out before you pin it and make sure that once it's pinned/ sewn, that you get one logical piece.  Once pinned/ sewn, your now big fabric piece should all be right side up and not upside down.

The shorter edge with ribbon attached is now pinned with the longer fabric piece which is UPSIDE DOWN AND WRONG SIDE UP

Once pinned and sewn, your big fabric piece should look right side up from top to bottom.

Now pin and sew using a 1/2" seam allowance.  Repeat with the fabric for the back of your pouch.

  1. Go to your ironing board and iron, right side DOWN, the seam of the fabric piece.  Repeat with your other piece.

  1. Using one of your fabric pieces, cut 2 pieces of muslin or your other fabric for the lining of your pouch.

  2. It's zipper time! Place one fabric piece, RIGHT SIDE UP, on top of that place your zipper FACE DOWN, then lastly place the muslin or other lining on top of the zipper...the lining should be RIGHT SIDE DOWN.

Your zipper sandwhich: front piece of pouch, right side up, then zipper along top raw edge (zipper face down), then lining fabric right side down.

Carefully pin in place your zipper sandwich, making sure you only pin the top portion of your zipper--otherwise you won't be able to open your zipper up.

Now carefully open the zipper halfway-ish.

  1. Attach your zipper foot onto your sewing machine and carefully sew the zipper on, trying to stay close to the zipper teeth.  When you get close to the zipper pull, lift up the zipper foot but keep the needle DOWN.  Very carefully zip the zipper closed to get that pesky zipper pull out of your way.  Then keep on truckin' and finish your way to the end.

  2. Now take your other piece of outer fabric and place it RIGHT SIDE UP on your work area.  On top of that, place the finished front piece that you just assembled, complete with your zipper and lining, WRONG SIDE UP.  In other words, your lining is now on top of the pile.  Now place your OTHER piece of lining, RIGHT SIDE DOWN, on top of the stack.

Make sure your top edges all line up.  Now just like before, pin your stack making sure you only pin the top of the zipper.

Zipper partially opened in preparation for a trip to the sewing machine...again.

10.  Back to your sewing machine.  Smartly, you already have your zipper foot on from installing the first half of the zipper from above.  Install this second part of the zipper, keeping close to the teeth as you did before.  Then you have something that resembles this:

Open faced pouch with front and back (outside fabric pieces) showing

If you open up your pouch, this is what you have. **This is the inside of the pouch, as the red swirls are the lining pieces. Black is the zipper.

  1. Now pin your pouch together, right sides out, zipper at the top. If there's a little trimming that needs to be done, now's the time.  NOTE:  make sure to line up your accent ribbons so where the front meets the back is all lined up!!!

  1. Attach your walking foot once again (you've had the zipper foot on for previous steps).  Use a 1/4" or 1/2"seam allowance (I used a 1/4" seam allowance) and sew around the 3 sides of your pouch (not the zippered part, unless this is an April Fool's gag gift).

  2. Trim close to your topstitching and trim your corners.

  1. Turn the pouch INSIDE OUT and push out corners with the blunt end of a skewer or something akin to it.

15.  Stitch around the 3 sides (not the top with the zipper) to enclose the the seams from your last step.  Again, I went with about a 1/4" seam allowance.  But make sure your seam allowance is great enough that you don't end up with any unsightly exposed raw edges;  trimming close to your stitches in step #13 will help with that.  And I KNOW you did an awesome job of trimming...you're a superstar!

  1.  Turn the pouch right side out, use your blunt skewer to push out the corners again, and here's your finished pouch!  If you'd like to add even more sass to your already awesome zippered pouch, use your 1/4" skinny ribbon (6-8") and thread it through the hole of your zipper pull.  (Attach it like it's a luggage tag).  **Don't forget to heat seal the ends of your ribbons and knot them for a cleaner look.  To do this, simply run a lighter close to, but not against, the ribbon end.  You'll know you've sealed it when it's a little glossy, hard, and slightly carmelized.  You'll know you've gone too far when it burns to a crisp.

  1. Now fill that puppy up with all the goodies you scored on sale.

You can churn out a bunch of these, assembly line-style in no time.  These are great for any occasion and have fun with your fabric choices;  with any luck, you'll get through that stash of scrap fabric FAST.  Then you can go out and buy some more!