Learn all about personalizing backpacks for kids, as well as how you can do it at home and donate your own backpacks to the Blue Ribbon Project’s Backpacks of Love program!
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Cricut. All opinions are 100% mine.
Personalizing Backpacks for Backpacks of Love With Cricut
Hey all! I’m sharing something a bit different today. First I’ll be talking a bit about the Blue Ribbon Project, and then I’ll be walking you through the steps for personalizing backpacks using a Cricut! How are the two connected? Well, Cricut is taking on a few charitable causes this year, and the Blue Ribbon Project is one of them. I’m honored to be working with Cricut on this charitable campaign. Read on for all the details!
What is the Blue Ribbon Project?
The Blue Ribbon Project is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that directly serves abused and neglected children in Maryland. The organization currently serves 12 counties in Maryland, as well as Baltimore City. But they have plants to expand to other counties in Maryland and even other states.
Their mission is to prevent all forms of child abuse and provide support to victims of abuse and neglect. If you aren’t terribly familiar with issues related to child abuse and neglect, their website has a variety of resources and information about the different programs they offer. The organization also offers resources for adult survivors who struggle with the long-term effects of child abuse. It’s a 100% volunteer-supported community.
A few months ago, Cricut approached me to ask if I was interested in working on a post for the Blue Ribbon Project. I hadn’t heard of the organization—I immediately said yes, though. Before I even knew that the Blue Ribbon Project operates in my state!
Blue Ribbon Project Programs
Whether or not you’re a fellow Marylander, you should check out what these folks are up to. Here are the programs the Blue Ribbon Project operates that you might be interested in:
- Aging Up…Not Out: This program supports older foster children (14+) as they prepare to eventually transition out of the foster care system. It covers life skills topics like managing finances, purchasing a vehicle, finding housing, and more.
- Backpacks of Love: Backpacks of Love supports victims of child abuse and neglect by providing a backpack with essential supplies in it. The Blue Ribbon project has backpacks ready for kids the minute the Department of Social Services calls them to let them know a child is being removed and is in need.
- Foster Friends: This program helps children in foster care explore activities that are not typically available to them like music lessons, soccer, ballet, and more through sponsorship from the Blue Ribbon Project.
- Mirah’s Closet: Mirah’s Closet is a foster closet program that provides free clothing and other essential items to kids in care. This can include school uniforms, pajamas, coats, and more. All items are either new very gently used.
- Speak Up…Speak Out: This is a program that helps people understand and recognize the signs of child abuse and neglect.
- JobConnect: JobConnect helps connect foster youth with potential employers through help with job searching and applications, as well as working with both the foster youth and the employer to ensure success.
- FosterLink: FosterLink is a website separate from the Blue Ribbon Project; it’s an online community with foster youth, former foster youth, and professionals from around the community.
Blue Ribbon Project Backpacks of Love
The Blue Ribbon Project’s Backpacks of Love program is the one I’ll be creating items for today. Here’s the deal: approximately 440,000 children in this country are in foster care, and many leave their homes with very little. Sometimes even a garbage bag to carry a few things in.
The Backpacks of Love program and Cricut are partnering to create personalized backpacks for kids entering foster care. It’s a way to create something special for children during a difficult time. The backpacks come with suggested packing lists from the Blue Ribbon Project’s website, and I’ll be stuffing the bags with many of the things on the lists.
What goes in the backpacks?
Today I’ll be sharing personalized backpack projects for a 2–3 year old boy and a 6–7 year old girl. You can check out all of the customized packing lists for different age groups on the Blue Ribbon Project’s “What’s In a Backpack” page.
The Blue Ribbon Project asks that for each backpack donation, you print a checklist and put it inside, checking off items that are also in the bag. This way they know what else they need to add before giving the bag to a child.
These backpacks are designed to get children through their initial transition into foster care, so the items inside are truly essentials for the first few days. Especially since they are carrying the backpacks, travel-sized items work well—but the Blue Ribbon Project says full-sized items are helpful, too. Kids are using these often times well past the first few days.
Personalizing Backpacks With Your Cricut
I’m doing two different backpacks today—one geared toward a 2–3 year old little boy, and one geared toward a 6–7 year old little girl. I’m a big fan of girls and boys liking whatever they want to like—including colors—but since I don’t know the children, I’m going with some more neutral colors and safer design choices. Who doesn’t like dinosaurs?
Here’s what I used for this project:
- Cricut Explore Air 2
- Standard Grip Green Mat
- EasyPress 2, EasyPress Mini, or household iron
- Tool set
- Everyday Iron-On, White
- Holographic Sparkle Iron-On
- Everyday Iron-On, Neon Explosion
- Everyday Iron-On Sampler, Glowsticks
- Heat-resistant tape
- Dinosaur backpack Design Space project (Files: Dinosaur, #M38453; Sunglasses, #MC4C952C; Pteranodon Silhouette, #ME1A7ABA; Font, Announcement)
- Rainbow backpack Design Space project (Files: Rainbow, #M47644; Shooting Star, #MB311957)
And here’s how I used my Cricut for personalizing backpacks
Step 1: Add designs in Design Space
I’m using a few different elements from Design Space for these backpacks. Make sure you’re logged in to your Design Space account when you click these links! For the dino backpack, I used a dinosaur image that I altered slightly—including simplifying it a bit so it didn’t have 4 whole layers. Then I added sunglasses to it.
If you’re wondering how I pared down the layers on the dinosaur, check out my tutorial on how to slice in Cricut Design Space. Basically I deleted two of the four layers. Then I sliced the remaining two so that I could layer the four spots on top of the dino’s body.
Originally, the top layer was the entire dino body with four holes cut in it. And then an entire dino body layered under that. That’s two whole layers of vinyl, which I didn’t want. Does that make sense?
I also added a Pteranodon (no alterations) and some text that said “DINO-MITE.” For the text, I ungrouped all of the letters so I could rotate them all a bit in different directions. Then I regrouped everything to cut it.
For the second rainbow backpack, I went with the always-safe rainbow and shooting stars theme. I didn’t make any alterations to these files because they were great as is! The rainbow has two layers, and the shooting star only one.
Step 2: Cut designs for personalizing the backpacks
Almost all of the designs required layering some iron-on vinyl, so I had to cut them in multiple different passes. If you’re not experienced with that process, don’t worry, it’s easy! Check out my post about how to lay iron-on vinyl. It helps make your designs look a bit more interesting and dimensional, especially when layering something like holographic glitter iron-on over plain everyday iron-on!
I decided on the neon colors for the dinosaur backpack, which I thought would look really sharp on a black backpack. I used the blue and green from the neon explosion iron-on pack, as well as the bright orange from the neon glow sticks mini sampler. Plus white iron-on for the sunnies.
For the rainbow backpack, I went with a deep purple color. For the rainbow and shooting stars, I went with a mix of Everyday Iron-On in white and holographic glitter iron-on for layering. Oh, and I used heat-resistant tape for the transfers to keep some of the smaller elements in place. It was hard to stick the pieces to the polyester backpack.
Step 3: Transfer your designs
Use an EasyPress (I used my EasyPress 2 and my EasyPress Mini) to transfer your designs. You can check out my posts about how to use the EasyPress 2 and how to use the EasyPress Mini for more on the tools I used. Make sure to also reference Cricut’s Heat Guide for exact time and temperature. Remember to check out my tips for layering iron-on vinyl in the post linked above.
And that’s it! Didn’t they turn out adorable? I really hope that these backpacks bring some joy to a child going through a difficult situation. Thanks again to Cricut for partnering with the Blue Ribbon Project for this opportunity. Make sure to check out the program to see how you can help!
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