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Have a brother who can’t sit still? Whose passport looks like a superfan’s autograph book? Give him a gift to suit his passion and his personality— and, in the process, reuse materials you might otherwise toss — by making an eye-catching fabric luggage tag for his beat-up old duffle. He’ll travel in style, and you’ll enjoy giving a handmade gift that is creative, inexpensive, and eco-friendly — all in one extremely useful and attractive little package.

Luggage tags can incorporate a name and address for identification or can be purely decorative (helping you pick out your black carry-on in a sea of black carry-ons). Options for both types are given here.

Basic supplies for making a fabric luggage tag:

  • Scissors
  • 2 fabric remnants, matching or coordinating
  • Heavyweight fusible interfacing
  • Iron
  • Sewing machine or needle and thread
  • Piece of sturdy ribbon, like grosgrain, at least 1 foot long
  • Sewing pins
  • 2 buttons
  • Buttonhole thread
Optional supplies for making a fabric luggage tag:
  • Piece of white fabric for identification
  • Sharpie or fabric marker
  • Piece of clear vinyl for business card pocket
Instructions for making a fabric luggage tag:

1. Prepare the pieces of the tag. Cut out a 3.5-inch by 5-inch piece from each of the two pieces of fabric and the interfacing. Stack the pieces and cut off the corners on one of the short ends, making a tag shape. If you want to add an ID to the tag, cut out a 2-inch by 3-inch piece from the white fabric; with a Sharpie or fabric marker, write the person’s name and address, or leave blank for the recipient to fill in. You can go extra crafty and green by cutting the person’s first initial out of an old T-shirt. If you want to create a pocket for a business card instead, cut out a 3.5-inch by 5-inch piece of the vinyl.

2. Put the pieces together. If you plan to make an ID label, sew the addressed or blank white fabric piece to the center of one piece of fabric. If you’ll be attaching a pocket for a business card, place the piece of vinyl on top of one piece of fabric and topstitch around three sides of the vinyl. Iron the interfacing onto the wrong side of the fabric, following the manufacturer’s directions. Place the second piece of fabric, right side up, on top of the interfacing attached to the first piece; press. Stitch around the edges. You can do this with a sewing machine or by hand, with a small whip stitch. (The interfacing will fuse the two pieces of fabric, so sewing the edges is not necessary.)

3. Make the luggage tag strap. Pin one end of the ribbon to the top of the tag, leaving a tail of about an inch extending toward the bottom of the tag. Do the same on the backside of the tag with the other end of ribbon. Place one button on top of the ribbon at the top of the front tag and the other button behind it, on top of the ribbon on the backside of the tag; pinch with thumb and forefinger to hold the buttons in place. With needle and buttonhole thread, sew the buttons and the ribbon to the tag, going in the hole of one button and out the hole of the opposite button. Knot the thread after securing the buttons, and trim. Trim the ribbon tails beneath the buttons.

If you don’t have fabric remnants lying around and need to buy fabric, consider Eco-fi Felt, which is made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. And if you’re crafty with a sewing machine, consider monogramming or embroidering your tag for a personalized effect.

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