January 9, 2011

easy fabric gift bag--tutorial

Another Christmas has gone by and once again I had huge plans to "wrap" all of my gifts in fabric gift bags and never again buy/waste wrapping paper. I only made two, but they were pretty cute:

The bags are made from holiday-themed bandanas I purchased at Hobby Lobby. They had a rolled hem around the edges, and I figured I could easily make them into gift bags since most of the finish work was already done. This is only the second tutorial I've attempted, so if you have any questions or if something doesn't make sense, please ask. Also, if you make a bag using my tutorial, I'd love to see a picture/link.

bandana or napkin (something with finished edges)
ribbon, cord, twill tape for the ties (or scrap of fabric to make the ties)
sewing machine
fabric pencil or water soluble pen (optional)

1. Wash and press your fabric. I used a bandana that was approximately 20" x 20".

2. Make two ties. If you use ribbon, twill tape, or some other pre-made tie you can skip to step #3. I found a coordinating fabric in my stash (it had 1988 printed in the selvage so it's really old). I used my Clover bias tape maker to make my ties. I don't cut the fabric on the bias since there's no need for the ties to stretch. I used a strip of fabric 2" wide by about 28" long which will make ties about 1/2" wide by about 13" long. I won't go into detail on how to use the bias tape maker as there are good instructions here.

After topstitching both sides of the tie, knot each end and cut the strip in half so you have two ties.

3. Fold the bag fabric in half lengthwise with right sides together and pin at the bottom and side.

At this point you'll notice that since I'm using a bandana that was not cut very straight, my edges do not match up perfectly.

I would normally cut the fabric to even up the edges, but I don't want to remove the finished edge. (We'll deal more with this a little later.)

4. Decide where you want your ties. I placed mine approximately 5 inches from the top of the bag.

6. Place your ties between the two layers of fabric at the desired spot matching up the raw edges of the ties with the edge of the bag. Pin in place making sure the free ends of the ties are out of the way.

7. Make a seam along the bottom and side of the bag. Backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam to secure stitching. Go slowly when sewing over the ties (there's a lot of fabric here). I like to stitch back and forth over the ties a few times to make sure they'll be secure.

Normally I line up the edge of my presser foot with the edge of the fabric but that didn't work so well since this bandana wasn't perfectly square. It may be helpful to use a pencil or washable marker to draw lines to mark your seams. The seam allowances may not be even on the inside (which nobody will ever look at except my mother), but you'll want your bag to be nice and square when it's finished and look good from the outside.

8. Turn the bag right side out and press. Admire your work!

Make a bunch of these now and next Christmas, when you're thinking "how the heck am I going to wrap this. . ."

Problem solved!


  1. Very cute! I planned to make some last year after Christmas and even bought lots of 90% off ribbon. Never did buy the fabric though. I'll have to look around for some this week.

  2. Great Idea! I'm definitely going to have to make some of these. Perfect way to use up my stash of scrap fabric. Thanks for visiting my blog as well!