Tote bags and hygiene kits, and blogs are hard

EDITED TO ADD: As I was reviewing the blog (and as a reminder of how bad I am at this), I realized I completed overlooked adding a post about the work we did in December and January for Berthoud’s local House of Neighborly Service, for which students created stuffed elephants and fleece blankets for families to take as small gifts when going to receive food and other supplies around the holidays.  It was such a crazy time that this is the only photo I took, and I have no idea how many things we made (quite a few, as I recall):


Here we are in our third year of offering our makerspace opportunity at our high school.  Students have served nearly 740 hours in the space and by the end of last year we had served our 18th nonprofit.  Our final project for last year was another serendipitous find, in that a community member was asking online for reusable grocery bags to hand out at homeless camps on behalf of a small project one of her friends had going called Project Fetch.  Project Fetch reaches out to homeless people living outside, who aren’t likely to use shelters since they often can’t bring their pets.  I contacted Hannah and asked her if we could use an innovative way to make tote bags that I discovered online that upcycles t-shirts into tote bags.  This also gave us a great opportunity to use our new serger in a lot of creative ways!  We cut the sleeves off completely and serged all the raw edges to reinforce them, which deviated from the pattern a bit but actually made a colorful addition to the bags.  Students were amazed at how the serger would cut the fabric and finish the edges of it at the same time. We also used parts of the sleeves to add pockets to the bags, both inside and out.

We found that medium t-shirts seemed to be a good size relative to a regular grocery bag, so we started collecting donations from staff and got started.  Hannah responded that the totes would be great, and then we also discovered a project that uses a washcloth to make a hygiene kit.  After modifying this pattern, I let Hannah know we’d also be having students make these and would collect up some toiletries to put in them.

We are still learning to perfect the pace of our projects; while the actual type of item being made does motivate students somewhat, it seems to also really depend on the time of year in terms of the interest a project will generate.  We worked on this project from late February all the way to May.  Students returned to complete items but at a pace that was much slower than the fall.  Any good work is good work, but I plan to try to do a better job of marketing this year and reminding students of the existence of the space.  Albeit slow, 17 students completed 20 t-shirt bags and 41 washcloth hygiene kits.

Another thing I need a lot of improvement on is updating this site regularly with our work, which is exactly what I said at the beginning of last year.  I’ll keep at it.IMG_9444IMG_8415IMG_8410


  1. Carin, I can’t tell you how much I love this opportunity you have created for the students at BHS. Thank you for devoting your time and energy to it, and for trying to deal with all the obstacles of working with the ups and downs of student’s availability, costs, etc. I ordered the rest of the books on your amazon list. They should be there Thursday or Friday.

    Cathy Parrish


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