After a couple "ack, you put dirty dishes in with the clean dishes!" episodes in our house, I decided to make a clean/dirty magnet for the dishwasher. My first attempt involved felt, a Sharpie, and magnet tape. Well, Sharpie ink bleeds all over felt, and the magnet tape wasn't strong enough to grip through a layer of felt, soooo onto attempt #2, which thankfully has been working quite well.
Regular needle & thread
I cut a rectangle out of yellow felt. (I would suggest using a darker-color felt, though, to eliminate show-through, which you can kind of see on my "dirty" magnet, above. Black felt with white thread would be cute, and you could use chalk to write your words.) On one side I wrote the word "clean," and on the other I wrote "dirty," using the disappearing-ink pen. Then I embroidered over the ink, using a very simple backstitch. This was my first embroidery attempt, and it was surprisingly easy!
After finishing the words and rinsing off the ink, I used some regular thread to stitch the magnet into place, basically making a little thread "net" attached to the back of my embroidery. I probably should have taken a photo of that, but rest assured, any method (no matter how ugly) of getting that magnet in there will work. You could also glue it in, if you're into that (gluing was my original plan, until I opened up my brand-new glue gun and read the tiny print that the lead contained in its cord can cause birth defects...wow, thanks, idiot glue gun makers! Grrr...).
Once the magnet is securely in place, hand-stitch or machine-sew the edges of the rectangle closed. I used white thread, but you could use a contrasting color or even embroider around the edges if you're feeling it. Other cute options include embroidering little pictures (angel/devil, sun/moon) or attaching ribbons, etc. to your sides. I skipped the fancy stuff in the interest of actually finishing the project.
And there you have it—successful embroidery and household harmony in one blog post. Don't say I never gave you anything, people. ;)