Handmade Holidays: Fabric Gift Bags

photo by Becky Striepe

The weather is getting colder, and we have a handmade holiday on our minds! Handmade gifts have heart, are better for the environment, and, if you opt to buy, it supports independent artists! Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be posting about recycled gifts you can make yourself and great handmade finds for sale.

So you’re getting those handmade gifts together, and you’re wondering about green gift-wrap ideas! A pretty basket or other reusable container gives your present a little personality while reducing waste. Fabric gift bags are easy to make and encourage the recipient to reuse the wrapping, instead of tossing it in the trash. The following tutorial is on making a bag for a bottle of wine, but you can change the dimensions to match whatever you’re giving!

Here’s what you’ll need for this project:

  • Fabric for the bag and strap (Green Tip: A pillowcase from the thrift store is the perfect size!)
  • Fabric scissors and pinking shears
  • sewing machine
  • Cutting mat and/or ruler

photo by Becky Striepe
For the wine bag, you’ll cut the body of the bag into a rectangle 7″ wide by 28″ tall. The strap piece should be 2-3″ wide and 16″ long. If you’re making a bigger bag, you may want to cut two, wider straps to keep things looking balanced.

Fold the bag fabric wrong-side-out and iron it. For the strap, you’ll fold in half to create a guiding seam. Then, fold the outer edges toward the center. Iron these new seams, then fold the whole thing in half, iron, and pin it.

photo by Becky Striepe

To finish off the strap, sew along the open edge, ironing it when you’re done. Use your pinking shears to trim off the unfinished ends, and set the strap aside. Run the bag fabric through the machine, sewing up each long side. Now, you’re ready to create a flat bottom on the bag!

Flatten the bag, with the seams in the center. If you let the fabric do its thing, it will naturally want to form a perfect little square at the bottom. Flatten the square, and use your ruler to draw a line perpendicular to the side seam of the bag. If you’re going for a wine bag, you should move the ruler until your line is 3 1/2″ long. Pin, then flip the bag over and repeat on the other side. Sew along the lines you just drew on each side of the bag’s base, and then trim off the excess. Here’s what each of those steps will look like (click the image for a bigger version):
photo by Becky Striepe

You’re almost done! Make a 1/2″ seam at the top of the bag, folding it over twice. Pin this top seam closed, and pin on the strap. You can place the ends of the strap inside or outside of the bag. If you don’t have pinking shears, you can fold the ends of the strap up by 1/4″ on each end to create finished edges.

photo by Becky Striepe
Sew twice around the top, to make sure the bag can stand up to the weight of the gift. Give it one last go-over with your iron, and voila! You’ve got a cute, custom, Earth-friendly gift bag!

photo by Becky Striepe

[All photos by Becky Striepe, used with permission]

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