bandana or napkin (something with finished edges)
ribbon, cord, twill tape for the ties (or scrap of fabric to make the ties)
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. . ."