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Sew a Designer Luggage Tag

luggage tag designer tag title photo

 

A friend loaned me one of her homemade luggage tags so that I could make a pattern from it. It all started when she saw the hats I was making (more on that soon) and we got to talking about the plastic I use for the brim shaping. She uses the very same plastic for her luggage tags and gives them as gifts.

 

 

I made my first luggage tag this morning and I think it took about an hour and a half, from pattern making to final product. I used scraps of light weight cotton duck fabric, also from my hat making. I purchased it at Hobby Lobby. The original luggage tag was made from a basic dress weight cotton/polyester. (click on any photo to enlarge)

The dimensions of the pattern pieces are as follows:

  • main body – 4 inches wide by 5¼ inches long on the sides, but 5¾ inches in length to the point where the loop will attach
  • loop – 12 inches long by 1½ inches wide
  • plastic – 2⅝ inches wide by 4 inches long
  • card stock – whatever fits snuggly in plastic pocket, mine is 1⅞ inches by 3⅛ inches
In case I didn't get to sewing it right away, I also traced the finished shape of the luggage tag pattern pieces

In case I didn’t get to sewing it right away, I also traced the finished shape of the luggage tag pattern pieces

 

For this luggage tag, instead of cutting two separate pieces for the main body of the tag, I chose to fold under the seam allowance on the flat end of the pattern (this made it functionally 5 inches on the long outer edges) and cut one piece on a fold. I wondered if this would detract from the stiffness of the tag, but it was not noticeable.

 

 

 

To temporarily mark the fold, I went ahead and pressed the piece exactly in half. Then, I folded the long edges over for the ½ inch seam allowance I had chosen and pressed them down.

The long edges and one short end have the seam allowances pressed inward.

The long edges and one short end have the seam allowances pressed inward.

 

Using the same  ½ inch guideline, I folded and pressed the two edges at one of the non-folded short ends, adjusting the exact alignment to center the point to satisfy my visual standards.

After folding the tag back in half, I folded and pressed the other short edges to match.

 

Pressing the other side point to match the first one. One more edge to go.

Pressing the other side point to match the first one. One more edge to go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next step was to cut a 12 inch strip, 1½ inches wide. This was going to make my tag loop narrower than the original, but I figured with the sturdier fabric this would work. I used my handy-dandy bias tape maker to quickly form the folds on the long edges of the strip. Folding that in half again lengthwise, I topstitched along the folded edges.

The 12 inch strip has been cut.

The 12 inch strip has been cut.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A bias tape maker is a wonderful tool!

A bias tape maker is a wonderful tool!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ready for the final fold and press down the middle -

Ready for the final fold and press down the middle –

 

 

 

 

 

The next step will be to top stitch the folded edges together.

The next step will be to top stitch the folded edges together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of the fabric pieces pinned together

All of the fabric pieces pinned together

 

Due to the thickness of the duck fabric, I positioned the raw ends of this newly constructed loop in the main body of the tag side by side instead of all in one layer. Incidentally, this holds the loop more open, which might have advantages when trying to attach it to a luggage handle.

 

Topstitching and reinforcement stitching - check.

Topstitching and reinforcement stitching – check.

 

Now, I topstitched all the open edges of the folded luggage tag together, trying to keep the bottom and top layers as even as possible. I back stitched at the beginning and end, plus went back and sewed reinforcement over where the loop ends were inserted.

 

 

Cutting the plastic was fast and easy with the rotary cutter.

Cutting the plastic was fast and easy with the rotary cutter.

 

I had been warned that it was very difficult to get the plastic piece cut nicely with scissors. My friend recommend a cutting wheel, which I used. It cut through the plastic very easily. Comparing the plastic piece to the main body of the tag, I saw that it wasn’t quite straight, so I lined up corners with the lines on my cutting mat to square it off. Then, I trimmed a bit more to make the plastic fit inside the bulk of the seam allowances. Again, I didn’t want to have to unnecessarily sew through thicknesses.

 

 

The luggage tag front with plastic window, before the card stock piece has been inserted.

The luggage tag front with plastic window, before the card stock piece has been inserted.

It was challenging to keep the plastic in place while sewing. I think I may try to tape it down somehow next time. Still, with very little effort, I was able to zig zag stitch it into place, centered between the long edges of the tag. I used a number 14 needle in my sewing machine for the whole project and this sewed through the plastic like cutting butter. One end of the plastic was left open, so identification can be slipped inside.

 

 

I love having my own labels to attach to things I've made.

I love having my own labels to attach to things I’ve made.

 

One of my dailyimprovisations.com sew-in labels was the last sewing touch. It probably would have been smarter to sew it on before I sewed on the plastic, but in this case it did line up with the stitching for the plastic, so no problem there.

 

Cutting the card stock to fit snuggly in the plastic window.

Cutting the card stock to fit snuggly in the plastic window.

 

 

There was some card stock in my stationery drawer to make the paper insert out of. I am having my artist daughter write the name and address of the recipient on it, so it will be extra special. But, no photo of that for their privacy. I suppose I could sew a the last edge of the plastic closed, if I wanted to make extra sure the paper doesn’t slide out, but right now it seems pretty sticky.

 

 

A demo of pulling the main body of the luggage tag through the loop to attach it to the chair.

A demo of pulling the main body of the luggage tag through the loop to attach it to the chair.

 

I attached the luggage tag to a folding chair so that you can see how it works. The main body of the tag slips neatly through the loop and then holds it in place. It will be fun to make a couple of these for myself, in very bright colors. They will also help with luggage identification from a distance, such as at airport baggage claim.

The completed luggage tag with a blank card ready to be inscribed.

The completed luggage tag with a blank card ready to be inscribed.

 

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