Do you dread the coming of the new school year, with piles of assorted stuff that all requires labelling? Here’s my collection of hacks for ensuring every single item is identifiable, and perhaps you might end the year with the same number of things as when it began!
A new school year is looming, Little C is moving up to Year 3, so there’s a whole lot more school uniform and kit that needs naming. I wrote about this last year, but thought it was time to write an updated version with new and improved tips. Read on!
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Hack #1 – Ribbon for easy identification
This hack is more for your child.
Some schools have a stricter uniform than others, but there’s a good chance that there will be, at the very least, a school book bag, and possibly a specific colour coat. We know that tidiness is not a priority for most kids, and things such as jackets and bags tend to end up in a heap. In a pile of virtually identical clutter, you want something easy for your child to spot.
For bags you you can tie it onto the handle, but I think it works best for zips.
Cut a short piece, loop it, push the loop through the hole of the zip, pull the ends through the loop, and pull to tighten. Super easy. It won’t come off, and if you cut the ribbon in the diagonal it won’t fray.
This is especially good for very young children, as it’s an easy way for them to identify their property.
Enough with the visual aids, now it’s time to add your child’s name to their stuff.
Hack #2 – Stamptastic
No sewing, just stamp the care label.
This is a special inkpad and a personalized stamp. As you can see, the stamp is transparent with the name at the bottom, so you can see exactly where you’re placing the stamp. Stamptastic is incredibly easy, lasts for ages, and works wonderfully well on care labels. They say it works on other surfaces, but I use it for clothes.
One of the best things about this is that it is so incredibly fast, so you can get through a lot in very little time.
Next up: more labelling methods.
Hack #3 – Petit Fernand Labels
When you have things the stamp doesn’t work so well for, like shoes, water bottles, or even darker coloured labels, you really want some sticky name labels.
Petit Fernand have a large range of personalized labels, including clothes labels that don’t come off in the wash. That’s right, still no sewing!
On the left, the clothes labels. These can be stuck on care labels, and they do not come loose in the wash. All the ones I applied at the beginning of the school year are still intact. You do need to think about where they are placed and if they will rub, because they are a little stiff and plasticky.
In the middle is shoe labels. I found these stuck very well, though by the end of the year the name had rubbed off. But still, pretty good going.
On the right are labels for any bits of random property you like. Lunchboxes, water bottles, pencil cases etc. They also appear to be dishwasher safe, which is rather impressive. Petit Fernand do other sizes and varieties, but these were the ones I chose. They have a ton of cool designs too.
And for when a stamps AND labels don’t work?
Hack #4 – Pens
Yep, three different pens.
On top is the trusty Sharpie. These pens are amazing: more or less indelible ink, cheap to buy, and they write on almost anything. Every home should have them. If you’re not worried about it looking pretty, a sharpie is a great way to mark stuff. They’re particularly good for things like shin pads and the inside of wellies. They also come in lots of colours.
Ones with thick nibs are best for large writing. For example, I used one to write Little C’s name on one of those big TKMaxx reuseable bags, for transporting the usual jumble of waterproofs, wellies, and general crap.
You can also get them with fine nibs which are great for marking smaller things.
Next one down is a Pilot Laundry Tec Fabric Marker. Again, nice and cheap, and has a fine tip. Better for detailed work. For example, Little C has a school number from next year, and all her property now needs to be marked with both name and number. While I’m considering buying another Stamptastic stamp with a number, for the moment I’m just going to add the number by hand using this pen.
Finally, a Artline Marker For Fabric. This also has a thick nib. I’ve found it very useful for marking sturdy darker fabric. It doesn’t work well for clothes, but it’s terrific for things like swimming bags and sports bags.
One more thing.
I’m so sorry, but you might need these.
Yes, it’s the dreaded name tapes.
Hack #5 – Name Tapes
I know, I know, no one likes sewing in these bloody things. I’ve managed to avoid it so far, but this summer I caved and bought some. Partly because of the school number thing, and also because some of Little C’s kit doesn’t have suitable surfaces for stickers or stamps. And let me tell you, Little C has a long name, plus the number, so one name tape takes forever to sew in. I’m lazy and crap at sewing, but I’m glad I have them because they really are an essential.
Name tapes are also much better for older children, who would prefer not to have their clothing and belongings adorned with stickers with cutesy pictures on them.
I also discovered something else they’re useful for, which requires less sewing.
You can sew them round straps and things, and then you only have to sew the ends together. Above is Little C’s sleeping bag stuff sack from her school campout, and I sewed a name label around the one of the webbing straps. I also did the same on the actual zip of the sleeping bag itself. So they were named, as per regulations, and it was a hell of a lot easier than sewing the tapes flat!
Oh, and I recommend Cash’s labels. They are very inexpensive and basically last forever. I know this because I recently discovered the duvet and pillowcase I used through seven years of boarding school and three years of university. It’s faded a bit, but the name tape (lovingly sewn in by my mother) is still intact and the red lettering is still bright.
So there you go, the full kit and caboodle.
Of course, this isn’t just limited to school uniform. There’s Brownies/Guides/Scout uniforms. Care homes require clothes to be labelled, sports kit needs to be identifiable, and adults wear uniforms too. There are all kinds of times you will need to label property.
Again, I sincerely apologize for the name tapes. I’ve been putting off sewing for as long as possible, but have bowed to the inevitable.
You can pick and mix these hacks, but I’ve found that with the items listed above I can put a name or identifying mark on absolutely anything at all.
And let me tell you, the older kids get the more crap they need, so you might as well get used to it!
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