Simple STEM Lesson: How to make an Apron out of those Tote Bags you get at conferences by @SamPatue

The next time you are at a conference and you see a bin of tote bags . . . don't walk away. Instead, grab a bunch and create STEM Lab Aprons for your students. #RockStarTeacher

I am a teacher and I have too many tote bags. That may seem redundant to those of you who teach. Every conference I attend sets me up with the official conference tote and then every other vendor in the hall has a tote for me.

Aprons are like Body Bibs

Sitting in the makerspace, I was thinking about aprons. I made an apron last year and it was great. I actually ruined fewer clothes last year because I wore the apron. The apron was also great because I spent each day wearing and using something I made. I was trying to decide between an outlandish pink suede apron and a sensible canvas apron made from an upcycled tote bag. I asked Instagram which I should and they called me on proposing a false choice. I needed to make both.

Once I ran out of thoughts in my head for the morning, ugh that didn’t take long, I got busy with my hands.

Aprons are Awesome

I was looking at the totes and thinking I would have to piece maybe 2 or 3 together to make an apron.

The first step was figuring out how much fabric was in a tote. I used a tote that had one seam down each side and simple gussets at the bottom. The bag was made out of one piece of canvas. After using a seam ripper to open the bag up I realized it was the perfect width for a kid apron. This was very exciting to me, because suddenly this became a lesson for kids about taking seams out and putting them back in with a machine.

Once I had that Idea, I trimmed the top of the apron and hemmed the whole thing.  I folded the tale of the apron over to make the pockets. The pocket is a bit deep, but that’s kind of the super power of the apron. When the kids are their pockets they will customize them for their favorite tools.

The neck strap is a repurposed handle and the ties can also be made from the handle. I used a laptop bag strap for the ties, but I don’t yet know if I like that.

As a lesson, I will have the kids bring a tote from home, plan outage transformation, cut and sew, and finish with hand embroidery of their name in the apron.

What's Your Favorite Thing To Do With Tote Bags?

This year, we will be exploring many ways to reuse and recycle many of our common household and classroom items to create simple STEM projects.  Do you have a favorite project or item to use in your classroom or makerspace?  Please leave a comment below and share your favorite story!