A website I visited recently recommended knitting holiday stockings. What a lovely idea, I thought. But I’d have to remember how to knit … I think I’ll just buy some “homespun” stockings instead. Yet there is a simple project I did one year for the holidays that was very rewarding in the same way knitting stockings would be — when I made my own fabric gift bags.
I made 20 or so, and gave them with holiday gifts inside to friends and family. The bags were a big success, and every year I tend to get one or two back with a gift for me tucked inside. The next year I give them with gifts again! The tradition of these gift bags has taken hold — others make their own varieties, and stories abound from memories of other gifts in the bags from other times. I will go that route this year.
At the time I bought new, pretty holiday fabrics, but if I had used unusual and festive fabrics from clothes found in second-hand stores, they’d be more inexpensive and eco-friendly. You can also reuse fabric from your own clothes, sheets, curtains, and pillow covers.
Making these gift bags couldn’t be easier. Here’s how to do it:
- Fabric ribbon
Determine how long and wide the bag needs to be and add one inch on each side for a seam. For example, to make generic 20 x 10 inch bags, cut out a piece of fabric 12 x 42 inches in size. Fold the fabric in half so that it is 12 x 21 when doubled.
Fold the fabric in half, outside in, pin the sides together, and stitch the side seams together on three sides. Turn inside out. Fold the raw edge on the top of the bag to the inside and hem.
Cut a cloth ribbon at least 12 inches long. Tack its mid-point onto one of the seams on the outside of the bag, about 4 inches from the bag opening.
Making gift bags is a manageable project for most of us, but if you’re time-challenged this year, buy them instead. I like these from Nu-Era, and the team at Gaiam suggests these gorgeous drawstring fabric gift bags from Lyziwraps or their own reusable gift bags.
It’s nice to imagine the deluge of wrapping paper that clogs the landfills in the weeks after Christmas when you know you won’t contribute. Besides, your bags can become family heirlooms and reused for generations.
There are also a number of creative ways to use fabric to wrap gifts without making bags. I have a sister who makes quilts for a hobby. She’d love some unusual fabric; I’ll put that on my list for wrapping her gift this year. Another sister loves cloth napkins, so I’ll either buy or make her some cloth napkins, and wrap the rest of the napkins using one of them.