Nine back-to-school embroidery project ideas

It’s that time of year again when the front displays of every store are lined with book bags, pencils, Elmer’s glue and a million reams of paper.

The end of summer means it’s time to ship the kids back to school! But, it is also a hot time for sales if you’re in the embroidery business!

Whether it’s students wanting to make a fashion statement with cool accessories or teachers wanting to up their classroom décor game, we have nine great projects you can sell to any back-to-school shopper!

Here’s a sneak peek of some of our ideas:

Keep on reading for more unique and personalized back-to-school items!

#1: Embroidered Uniforms

1_Embroidered uniforms

Most schools require that their students wear uniforms. So, that means that a fresh, crisp polo is essential for the first day of school.

Luckily for you, there will be lots of potential customers searching to personalize their kids’ uniform with something as simple as a name or school logo.

Insider tip: All Ricoma machines have an on-board lettering feature, which allows you to embroider names without the need for digitizing and create the piece right on the machine. (If you want to see how this feature looks on the machine, make sure to request a virtual demo with us today!)

This will make for a quicker turnaround time, allowing you to take on more customers

Since student uniform restrictions will keep your designs minimal, teachers are a nice market to hit for more creative, personalized designs.

They are usually more flexible with what designs they can wear on their polos, which means you’ll have more creative freedom! 

Because of the intricacy and unique elements of these designs, you can bring up the prices of these types of projects. 

Download a trial of Chroma software to digitize your back-to-school designs.

#2: Book Bags


Book bags can be a blank canvas for artwork and creativity and are the main way students showcase their personality.

The best part?

Every student is going to need a book bag and will probably change it up every year thereafter.

Considering they’ll be in school from the age of five to 18 years old, that’s a lot of book bags to embroider.

If you’re looking for a simple way to take any book bag to the next level, just add a beautiful monogram. It’s a great way to personalize the bag and helps the student keep track of which book bag is theirs! 

#3: Classroom Door Banners

3_Classroom Door Banners

Every teacher needs a welcome sign outside her classroom to ensure her students won’t get lost (if they’ve learned to read already that is).

Much like the decorations inside the classroom, welcome signs are just as representative of a teacher’s style.

An effective way to keep your production process flowing smoothly is to create a simple design that allows for easy customization.

Create a generic design that allows for only changing the teacher’s name so you can produce it quickly and reuse the design over and over!

It’s also a great way to turn any left-over piece of fabric into an adorable embroidery project!

To replicate this cute burlap design, here’s a tip: High stitch count designs look great on burlap. Avoid light stitches as they can get lost in the textured fabric.

For more tips on which materials to use when embroidering on certain fabrics, click here for a FREE download of our ultimate 50 fabrics cheat sheet.


#4: Teacher Totes

4_Teacher Totes

Just like every student needs a book bag, every teacher needs his/her bag to transport their own homework: ungraded papers.

A great way to embroider these larger items and keep production cost down is to incorporate appliqués!

Some of the benefits of working with appliqués are:

  • You only need to stitch the outline
  • It lowers the stitch count
  • It helps you crank out orders faster (faster turnaround time)
  • Appliqué increases your productivity

With appliqué, the possibilities are endless. You can design and use all sorts of patterns to make the fabric stand out.

If you want to see how appliqué gets done and some of the best tips to follow when doing so, check out this episode of Embroidery Hub where we show you how to do appliqué on a bib!

#5: Lunch Boxes

5_Lunch Boxes

Lunch boxes tend to be an accessory that get all the students talking in the cafeteria. That’s why they are so popular to embroider nowadays!

If you’re wondering if you can successfully embroider on insulated materials, the answer is: definitely!

It may be tricky to avoid the top fabric from shifting, but if you pin down the edges of the lunch box using sewing pins and use temporary adhesive to help keep the floating material attached to the hooped stabilizer, you should be good to go!

We recommend using the Hooptech Slimline clamp, which is a special clamp that you can use to hold down the lunch box and then attach to your machine.

This is a great tool to use when you need to embroider on difficult-to-hoop items. It secures the item in place and maintains pressure on the fabric throughout the embroidery process.

Watch how we used one of these clamps to embroider on a shoe!


#6: Hair Bows

6_Hair Bows

No girl can have enough bows, and so this is a product you can sell in sets to make the order worthwhile.

We suggest personalizing the bows with names or initials and taking it a step further by embroidering school items or mascots.

You can also choose ribbons in the school’s colors and charge more for any added customization!

You can always use a belt hoop to embroider on ribbon, but if you don’t have one, check out this video on how to embroider on ribbon using a regular square hoop.

#7: Gym Bags

7_Gym Bags

Student athletes usually need to carry around a gym bag for all of their sports equipment and there’s no better way to show team spirit than having a customized bag with your school mascot embroidered on it!

The design can also be as simple as embroidering the student’s name on it so their bag doesn’t get mixed up with everyone else’s. 

Much like the lunch boxes, you will most likely need to use a Hooptech Slimline clamp to properly embroider on an item as large as a gym bag. Here’s a video where we use the clamp on a big duffel bag!

Adding appliqués of volley balls or even ballet/dance shoes will make these gym bags a hot commodity! You can search for some of these simple designs on websites like!

#8: Pencil Cases

8_Pencil Cases

Personalized pencil cases help students keep track of their materials and help teachers recognize his/her students’ items.

There will be plenty of parents looking for this kind of solution and if you offer it as one of your products, it will definitely sell!

While it can be harder to embroider on since they are a smaller item, there’s no need to be intimidated by embroidering small lettering (under 10 millimeters).

Some steps you can follow when embroidering small lettering are:

  • Embroider with thinner, specialty thread (size 60 thread is a good option)
  • Slow down your machine for better stitching quality
  • Use a 70/10 needle if the material is thick (or a 65/9 ball point needle if the material is thin and stretchy)

For more tips on embroidering small derails, watch this video where we share our top seven tips.

#9: Laptop Cases

9-Laptop Cases

Another item for older students or teachers are cases for transporting laptops between classes.

University-themed cases and clean monograms would be a great way to go for a more sophisticated back-to-school product, but feel free to get creative with the designs and different fabrics! 

Since laptop cases tend to have a thicker material, it may be a bit more difficult to use a standard hoop. 

To reduce the amount of pressure you have to put on your hands and avoid unnecessary hoop marks, we suggest using a Mighty Hoop!

Mighty Hoops are magnetic hoops that attach instantly to each other. It does the hooping for you.

To find out if you are missing any of the best machine embroidery accessories, be sure to read this blog to fill up your wish list!

We also recommend referring back to our 50 fabrics cheat sheet for the best results, as some protective, thicker materials may require different tools and techniques.

Bottom Line

There you have it! Nine back-to-school items to add to your embroidery repertoire!

Seeing as this is one of the top purchasing times for any parent, it is a great time to promote that you provide any of these items.

If you’ve already been in the back-to-school scene, what other items have you been asked to embroider? Let us know in the comments below!

For more embroidery tips and machine embroidery projects, be sure to watch our machine embroidery tutorials on YouTube and join our Facebook community, Embroidery and Printing Business Help.

Ultimate Embroidery Cheat Sheet: 50 Popular Fabrics & How-To Embroider Them for Best Quality

Did you know that you can improve the quality of your embroidery no matter which fabric you’re embroidering on?

To guarantee your embroidery success, we’ve put together a cheat sheet of 50 of the most popular fabrics used for embroidery and the combination of materials that you’ll need to give you the best possible results for your projects.

Click here to download our free guide

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