By Haley Pierson-Cox

It’s a rule. At some point in every single family gathering, potluck, or picnic I attend, someone will stab a meaty fork onto my plate to taste my pasta, or cut my layer cake with the cheesecake knife, or stir butter into my vegan mashed potatoes. It’s always an accident, and it’s almost impossible to avoid in a group setting. I made these washable, reusable tags and signs as a gentle way to keep communal food safe for folks with allergies or special diets. Goodbye, single-serving containers, hello party!



Sewing machine
Fabric scissors
Embroidery hoop
at least 5″ in diameter
6 sew-on snaps
6 small binder clips
Straight pins
Water-soluble fabric marker
Fray Check or clear vegan nail polish
one 10″ x 10″ solid-colored square, two 6″ x 24″ patterned rectangles
Embroidery floss
Rubber band, at least 1/4″ thick
24″ of 1/4″ braided elastic

Step 1: Using a water-soluble fabric marker, draw a horizontal line every 1/2″ on the 10″ x 10″ fabric square.


Step 2: Find the center of the top edge of the square. Measure 3/4″ from the center on each side, then draw a vertical line down the fabric, creating a 1 1/2″ space between the lines in each row. This is where you will write the text for your tags.


Step 3: Skip 4 rows, then write “vegan” (or “gluten-free,” “sugar-free,” “vegetarian,” etc.) on the next 12 rows.


Step 4: Spread the fabric tightly across the embroidery hoop. Embroider your labels using a split stitch (make a small stitch, then, from the back, bring the needle to the front through the center of the same stitch). Make sure you knot off your floss between each label.


Step 5: When finished, cut out each label, then apply Fray Check or your favorite clear vegan nail polish around the edges to keep them from fraying.


Step 6: On each 6″ x 24″ rectangle of patterned fabric, draw a horizontal line every 4″. Cut the fabric apart at each horizontal line, creating 12 smaller rectangles.


Step 7: With right sides of the fabric facing in, fold all of the rectangles in half horizontally, lining up the long edges. Press a crease with an iron.


Step 8: With about 1/8″ allowance, sew around two of the unfinished edges, leaving one short edge open.


Step 9: Pull the fabric through the open end to turn right side out, using a pen or chopstick to square the corners, then press flat. Fold the unfinished edges of the open end in about 1/4″ and press again.

Tip: snipping a tiny bit off of the point at each corner before turning right side out will help the corners stay square.

Sew the Serving Dish Signs


Step 10: Fold 6 of the rectangles in half with short edges touching and press the crease.


Step 11: Pin “vegan” labels horizontally in the center of each sign.


Step 12: Unfold rectangles and sew around the edge of each label, stitching as close to the edges as you can.


Step 13: Refold the rectangles at the creases and stitch around the edges of each sign with a 1/4″ seam allowance, leaving an opening in the center of the bottom edge that is large enough to insert the arm of a binder clip.

Step 14: Cut a wide rubber band into small pieces. Superglue these small pieces inside each side of the binder clip to protect the serving dishes from scratches and hold the clips in place.

Sew the Utensil Tags


Step 15: Fold 6 of the rectangles in half horizontally with long edges touching and iron the crease. Then fold in half again vertically, with short edges touching, and iron that crease as well.


Step 16: Pin “vegan” labels as pictured here – the fabric is divided in four parts by creases, and the label goes in the center of one section of each utensil tag.


Step 17: Unfold both creases and sew around the edge of each label, stitching as close to the edges as you can.


Step 18: Place and sew snaps, leaving at least 1/4″ of room at each end for sewing the tag.


Step 19: Refold the tag horizontally and sew around the edges of each tag. The snaps should line up, so you can loop the tag around your utensil.

Step 20 (optional): Cut braided elastic into three 4″ pieces and three 3″ pieces. Sew the ends of each piece together, making elastic bands. The tags can then be attached to these bands to help them attach to oddly shaped utensils.


About the Author:

Haley Pierson-Cox is a Brooklyn-based craft writer who loves granny glasses and loathes extraneous apostrophes. She blogs about crafts, cats, domestic bliss, and DIY goodness at The Zen of Making.

Haley Pierson-Cox

Haley Pierson-Cox

Brooklyn-based DIY from a Gal in Granny Glasses

  • Connie

    This is such an awesome idea! I’m always trying to direct my guests, pointing out which dish s vegetarian, which has gluten, which has shellfish…etc. This is much prettier than my sticky notes I put on the bowls!

  • Batya

    Love these, though as a non-sewing type, they are too labor-intensive for me to make. I especially love the idea of labeling serving utensils. Meat-eaters think nothing of sticking a bloody utensil into a vegan or vegetarian dish. Then I can’t/won’t eat it.

  • Vegan Shizuoka

    Sooo cute with the best word ever. It’s perfectly sewed.