Sunday, December 18, 2011

How to Make Reusable Cloth Gift Bags

I usually like wrapping Christmas gifts. I have all sorts of tips and tricks to upcycle just about anything into gift-wrap, ribbon, and bows to make Pinterest perfect gift-wrap. My gift wrap turned art projects reduce waste while the recipient  is none the wiser. All they see is a pretty package and that’s the way I like it.

I save paper gift bags like these in our stash stored in an under bed gift wrapping storage box similar to this onefor Husband because he claims he’s not as good at wrapping gifts as I am. This may or may not be a spousal management issue on his part because it means I end up wrapping almost everything. (I am including affiliate links in this post for your continence.)

As our extended family has grown so large that it takes me days to wrap all of their gifts. After last year’s four night wrap a thon left me less than holiday cheerful (to put it mildly), I promised myself I was going to make wrapping gifts easier this Christmas.

With reusable cloth gift bags!

how to make quick and easy cloth gift wrap bags
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How to Sew Money Saving Zero Waste Cloth Gift Bags

The construction is simple and very forgiving. This a great beginner sewing project!

You will need:

Fabric by the yard 

Fabric Ribbon

Sewing machine - I used this project to test out a serger a friend gave me but you don't have to. If you don't want to go to that expense, you can buy a serger sewing machine foot here that turns your sewing machine into a serger!

Sewing gage

Coordinating thread 

Straight pins

Step by Step How to Make it

1. Cut one large rectangle of fabric and two lengths of ribbon/cord/trim for the tie.

2. Fold the fabric rectangle in half right sides (the pretty part) together and pin the fabric into place.

3. Pin the two lengths of ribbon in the side seam a few inches from the top of the bag. The long tails of the ribbon will be on the inside of the fabric bag during this step. When we turn the bag right side out at the end the ribbon ties will be on the outside of the bag. Clever huh?

4. Use the sewing machine (or serger if you want to get fancy) to sew the two outside ed the bag together.

how to make reusable zero waste gift bags

5. Use the sewing gage to turn the top raw edge of the bag over twice (I used a 1/4 inch seam. You can use whatever measurement you like) and pin the fold into place with the straight pins. Since I am working with such a small seam, I ironed the fold into place to make sewing it easier. If you don't want to break out the iron, you don't have to.

Tip: I used the selvage edge (woven side edges of the fabric) for the top of my bags when I could depending on the print, so I didn’t have to hem them. Sneaky!

6. Turn the cloth bag right side out, fill it with a thoughtful gift, and use the ribbon to tie it closed.

I originally planned to buy Christmas fabric on super mega sale the day after Christmas last year to make my cloth gift bags. Then I realized I already had a hug storage tub full of velvet and brocade fabric and trims from my historical costuming days that would make glammy (and green in that the-greenest-thing-is-that-you-already-own way) cloth gift bags. This is a big DUH moment for me because I've been hanging on to my scraps for too long.  Update 10/22/2018): Later on I found I needed larger cloth gift bags and bought Christmas fabric by the yard here to make more. While I was at it, I made a set for my sister in law who wanted some too.)

 I used the paper gift bags in my gift wrapping stash to help me decide what size bags I should make. In same cases, I let the size of my fabric scraps determine the size of my cloth gift bags. I tried to err on bigger sizes because you can always put something smaller in a bigger bag but not the other way around.

I got on a roll and upcycled a few things too. I made the gold bags from a shower curtain I bought for the Master Bathroom but didn’t quite work as well as I hoped in the bathroom. It looks much better under my Christmas tree.

how to save money at Christmas
I like the fringe on the gold bags the best.

I made this silver dress for the finale of vaudeville show and shoved it in the back of the costume closet soon after. I got another use out of it when Blitzkrieg, Husband, and I competed in the 24 Hour Film Contest.

How to make cloth gift bags from recycled fabric
This is Blitzkrieg’s big high five scene. He nailed it on every.single.take.

The lining shrunk when I washed the dress (which made it an interesting repair project for the next concert I had to wear it, let me tell you) and I was happy when I had to retire it. The dress makes prettier gift bags than it did a dress. How perfect would this glittery bag be for The Festival of Lights?!

How to make zero waste money saving cloth gift bags
Made from sparkly recycled materials - for reals.
 I wonder how much Hanukkah gelt they hold?

one small green change Condo BluesThis brings me to my December One Small Green Change. To wrap most of our Christmas gifts in reusable cloth gift bags. It isn’t practical to use the gift bags for all the gifts we are giving this year because we have to ship to our family out of town. I’m still going to use wrapping paper for those gifts because I won’t get the cloth bags back to use next year.

I love my glammy gift bags and how much time they saved me wrapping gifts this year! However, this may not work for you if you have a pre-holiday gift peeker at home. Fortunately we don’t.

However, I do have a little Peke photo bomber who ran to the tree once I pulled out the camera to take pictures for this post.

how to save money on Christmas wrap
Hi Everyone!  

In other words, just a typical day here at Condo Blues.

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Anonymous said...

These bags are adorable and I love the idea that they are reusable unlike wrapping paper!

lmoylan said...

I made reusable bags for Christmas this year too! I ran out of fabric, but I am hoping to score more after the holidays.

Mary said...

Your gift bags are really cute! I've been trying to get this same project done for a couple of years now but I don't think this is going to be the year either. maybe this summer?

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

Mary - Summer is the perfect time to do this project for the following Christmas. I sewed mine last year at the end of January - beginning of February. That's the time of year Cabin Fever takes hold and I need a project to keep me from packing my bags and hitch hiking to the Carribean.

Liz @ the Brambleberry Cottage said...

Really, you cut up your dress? Actually, I reuse the fabric from clothing, too. It's a great reuse I think.

Thanks for linking to Time Travel Thursday.

Hope you have a very Merry Christmas!
Liz @ The Brambleberry Cottage

Anonymous said...

Not only green, but sanity saving as well! Especially next year when you will have already done all that sewing previously. I made a few bags from pant legs this year, but won't get them back after they are given. Hopefully the recipients will reuse them.

Andi @ udandi / Lunch It Punch It said...

yay! I remember you tweeting you made these, but that you wouldn't post until holiday season - so pretty and useful.

All my nieces and nephews got gifts packed in new useable totes picked up at library conferences and that way they could put their haul in them and help their parents get packed up.

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

The lining of the dress shrank when I hand washed it after the show. I had to do some creative tailoring on it so it fit correctly for the following year's show.

The color washes me out so it wasn't my favorite either. I like it as a gift bag much better!

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

Making the bags so early made wrapping gifts so easy! I'd agree it saved my sanity, but let's be honest. I was never sane to begin with :)

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