Father's Day gifts don’t have to be elaborate to be memorable. Just ask Anna Wulick: The 28-year-old graduate student turned a plain polo shirt into a one-of-a-kind Father’s Day gift for her math-minded dad with a few simple stitches. “He loved it, so it worked for me,” she says.

Savvy shirt


  • A nice polo shirt, dress shirt, or t-shirt (in an eco-friendly material, of course!)
  • Printer paper
  • Washable fabric pen
  • X-Acto knife
  • Needle and thread in color of your choice
  • Strip of cotton batting or scrap fabric (not Jersey cotton)
  • Two to four safety pins

1. Pick a design that speaks to your recipient’s personality and interests. (Wulick playfully describes her father as “an enginerd,” so the natural choice for her was to write out Fermat’s last theorem with a needle and thread.)

2. Type out the word, phrase, or equation you want to use in the font and point size of your choice, then print it out. This will be your pattern. If stitching an image, make a copy of the photo or design you want to use.

3. With the X-Acto knife, carefully cut along the black lines of your phrase/image to create a stencil. Place stencil on top of shirt at desired location and trace lines with fabric pen; remove stencil.

4. Cut cotton batting or scrap fabric so that it’s slightly larger than your pattern. Place this fabric on inside of shirt under your markings, and pin in place with safety pins.

5. Sew along your markings, covering the lines completely and neatly with stitches.

6. Remove pins and pattern, and enjoy your new duds.

The Savvy Shirt originally appeared on craftster.org.

High design drinks 

High design drinks

Turn a hodgepodge of plain old cocktail glasses into a patterned, personalized set: Just grab some etching cream and a variety of thrift-store glasses (or some mismatches from home), and follow these simple instructions. As a precaution, do this project in a well-ventilated area, and wear gloves so that the etching cream doesn’t irritate your skin.


  • 4, 6, or 8 mismatched glasses. Try a mix of highball glasses, beer steins, tumblers, and tall water glasses.
  • Adhesive paper (such as Con-Tact) or masking tape
  • Permanent marker
  • Non-toxic etching cream, such as Etchall (etchall.com). Avoid products with hydrofluoric acid, which can create terrible, hard-to-treat burns, and sulfuric acid, which can irritate the lungs.
  • X-Acto knife
  • Carbon paper and ballpoint pen (optional)

1. First, clean the surface of each glass with an eco-friendly dish soap and a soft cloth (pick one that won’t shed lint).

2. Cut out a piece of adhesive paper slightly larger than your intended design, and carefully draw the pattern onto it with the permanent marker. If you’re nervous about drawing freehand, place carbon paper on top of the adhesive paper, then place your design on top of that. Trace the design with the ballpoint pen, transferring it to the adhesive paper.

3. Use an X-Acto knife to cut out your design, creating a stencil (save the outside part with the pattern cut away, and discard the inside part of the paper).

4. Affix your stencil to the glass. Make sure that all edges stick tightly and press down to remove any bubbles.

5. Using a paper towel, apply a thick layer of etching cream to the glass beneath the cutout pattern. Avoid smearing any cream beyond the edges of your adhesive paper.

6. Wait for the cream to work its magic, as directed on the bottle (usually 5 to 15 minutes).

7. Run cool water over the cream to rinse it off, or use an unwanted rubber spatula to scrape it back into the container for reuse.

8. Peel off the adhesive paper, and rinse the glass under cool water again. Wash the glass inside and out, and it’s ready to use.

Photo: purplejavatroll/Flickr

Copyright Environ Press 2006

See also:

Father's Day poems: A guide

Father's Day gift guide