How to Make Fabric Gift Bags

Annie B. Bond by Annie B. Bond | December 2nd, 2008 | 8 Comments
topic: Green Living

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:

Materials

  • Fabric
  • Fabric ribbon
  • Thread

Step 1

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.

Step 2

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.

Step 3

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.

Lyziwraps fabric gift bags

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.

Comments

  1. Thanks for the great suggestion–and so much more homey than wrapping paper–better for the environment as well. Those stockings are really cute as well.

    jh

    jh | December 3rd, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  2. I made a dozen bags about 15 years ago in Holiday fabrics. All are large – I used 1 yard of 45 inch fabric for each one. I put multiple gifts in each one for grandchildren, or just fold it over and add a raffia ribbon for smaller gifts. As soon as the bag is emptied, it is folded and returned to me!

    We generally have a rule that you remove one item from a bag, then it is someone else’s turn – so it is not a dumping situation – besides there could be something breakable – which may be in recycled bubble wrap or a smaller box inside the bag!

    The family enjoys the bags so much that I had to get non-holiday fabric for birthday gifts. Last trip, I ended up using the bag as a laundry bag after the gifts were removed, so it went in the laundry and is ready for the next celebration.

    Needless to say, I have not bought wrapping paper for 15 years! Now I’m making counted cross stitch labels for each family member that can be attached to a bag with a colorful safety pin. Also had to make one bag that was larger – can’t recall what did not fit :-)

    If you buy fabric right after (or right before) a holiday, it is generally 60 % off.

    My hubby will be asking on Christmas Eve if there are any bags left for him to use!

    Judy | December 10th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  3. I made a dozen bags about 15 years ago in Holiday fabrics. All are large – I used 1 yard of 45 inch fabric for each one. I put multiple gifts in each one for grandchildren, or just fold it over and add a raffia ribbon for smaller gifts. As soon as the bag is emptied, it is folded and returned to me!

    We generally have a rule that you remove one item from a bag, then it is someone else’s turn – so it is not a dumping situation – besides there could be something breakable – which may be in recycled bubble wrap or a smaller box inside the bag!

    The family enjoys the bags so much that I had to get non-holiday fabric for birthday gifts. Needless to say, I have not bought wrapping paper for 15 years!
    If you buy fabric right after (or right before) a holiday, it is generally 60 % off.

    Judy | December 10th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  4. I have used hand towels and kitchen towels with ribbon to wrap small and medium sized gifts. Scarves work well also. One year for Christmas, I bought each of my children a throw blanket and put all their gifts inside and tied the 4 corners together with ribbon. Much easier cleanup!

    Maryann Schultz | December 10th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  5. [...] Since my sewing skills are are….hmmm…no so advanced, I generally make a pillowcase and just tie it with a pretty ribbon.  (Check Goodwill and yard sales- I’ve gotten tons of ribbon and fabric perfect for this type of thing for a song!)  If you are feeling fancy, here’s some directions on how to make a gift bag with a drawstring. [...]

  6. [...] only does the planet-friendly fabric bag store much easier than a bulky box, but it also allows me to track the bag’s journey around the [...]

  7. What a great idea, I love to recycle things and have loads of materials and old clothes around. Another idea could be to use an old tshirt with a band logo on to give to teenagers. thank you for this gift idea I’m going to start right away, I have birthdays coming up .

  8. really nice and “green” idea, will try to make it as per your instructions.

    Thanks!

    handbags | November 5th, 2010 | Comment Permalink

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