DIY Birthday: Cloth gift bags


I love gift bags. Don’t get me wrong- I am a FANTASTIC gift wrapper. I’ve been an origami master since the age of 8. But gift wrap is really a cultural phenomenon that we need to grow out of. It’s a wasteful habit that harms the planet.

I have a collection of gift bags. In our family, there is no shame in reusing gift-wrapping materials, ranging from gift bags, wrap, tissue paper, bows, ribbons, or gift containers or sorts. It’s really so wonderful, because when I make a handmade gift, I just select from my assorted beautiful collection of wrappings.


My absolute favorite are the cotton gift bags from my aunt, shown at the top. She had a special touch with everything she did. I attempted to make some cloth bags, and I thought I’d share my method. These two bags were from the dollar bins at Target. I have an unhealthy relationship with those bins. HA!

But first! Check them out…all made from waste fabric (scraps).







So in order to make a simple bag, just fold a piece of scrap fabric in half and make sure it’s square. Then hem up the sides:

hemmed sides

Then hem the top of the bag. You can then fold it over to make a casing for a drawstring, or you can stitch down in the center, two parallel lines, and then fold it over to make the drawstring casing.

finished hemmed sides


Once you have sewn down the drawstring casing, you can cut between the two parallel lines to make a drawstring opening (I cut a little too deeply here, but no matter). You can feed the drawstring through, in this case, ribbon, by making a small knot and attaching a closed safety pin, which helps to have something to grab on to while feeding it through.

finished closing


If you have a light cotton or silk, you can even forgo the drawstring casing, and simply hem the top to make a sack, using a ribbon tied around the top to close the bag.

Other clever solutions to gift wrap that I’ve seen have been purses, hat boxes, self-decorated craft paper, and even an old mitten with a drawstring. Three of the bags shown above were made from an old shirt, sewn up the front and over the neck, with the sleeves also turned into sacks.


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