Updated Gift Bag Tutorial

Every holiday season I see so much waste.  Rolls and rolls of gift wrap become bags and bags of trash.  Last year I decided that I wanted to make reusable gift bags, and took advantage of after holiday sales to get a good deal on holiday theme fabric.  I knew the only way that the bags would get made, however, would be if I made them during the summer.  So, I worked at it and created my own model.

These were the first two bags.  Here is how I made them.  What you need is fabric and some ribbon.  I cut 14″ high x 20″ wide for the small blue bag and 24″ high x 16 ” wide  for the tall red bag which fits a large wine bottle.  Adjust the sizes depending on the shapes that you generally need to wrap.  Each bag uses approximately one yard of ribbon.

Once the rectangle is cut, I amble over to the iron and turn down the top edge about 3/8 of an inch, press, and then fold it down again about 2 inches, and press again.  This will later be sewn down and create what I think of as the collar or top of the bag.  I do not measure and totally eyeball this.  If the fabric has a pattern to guide you, use that.  It should look like this:

then this 

The only part that I do check is to see that I have turned down the same amount on each end. 

Next will be sewing the side seam including the little ribbon loop.  Fold the short piece of ribbon in half and pin the cut edge even with the edge of the right side of the fabric just below where the collar will end.

Turn the piece so that it is right sides together.

Now, open up the part that had been folded over and line up the edges, pin if you like, and sew the side seam.  On this model I sewed using red thread, hoping that it wold help you see where I was stitching.  Usually I use coordinating thread.

You now have a tube. I generally press the seam open. Fold the already pressed portion over twice  and stitch just a bit from the bottom edge.  I stitch on the inside, using the pressed fold as  my guide.

Flatten out the tube with the side seam as one vertical edge and the fold as the other.  Align the bottom of the fabric and sew the bottom seam.  Now you are ready to box the corners.  Line up the bottom seam and a side seam (or fold) forming a triangular shape. 

I generally measure 2 inches in from the point, which makes the line that I draw perpendicular to the bottom seam about 3 inches long.  If you want a more square bottom, then make the box deeper.  What is perhaps a bit more important is that the corners are about the same size.   Here I lined up the bottom seam with the 1.5 inch line and measured…

marked with blue chalk and then sewed along the blue line.

What you wind up with is something that looks like this – looks a bit like something with floppy ears.

Almost done!  Turn the bag inside out.  The last thing is to attach the long length of ribbon just below the collar on the outside.  Take care not to catch the other part while sewing this – ah, the voice of experience!

And there you have it!  By threading the ribbon through the loop, the ribbon will not slide over the top, revealing the goodies inside.  You can dress it up with more ribbons, add an ornament as a gift tag, etc.  Ask the recipient to use it again, or to pass it back to you to reuse.  Here is my collection so far…

Have a green holiday!  If you try it, please let me know how it goes and let’s save some trees this holiday season!


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