DIY Fabric Gift Bags

Last updated 11/9/2020 | |

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It's easy to make reusable fabric gift bags and save time, money, and the environment. Wrap presents of any size, without the hassle and waste of wrapping paper! This tutorial shows a detailed, step-by-step process that's perfect for those who are new to sewing.

colorful fabric gift bags full of presents

True Confession: I hate wrapping presents.

I hate spending money on wrapping paper, finding boxes, trying to wrap awkward-sized packages...and don't get me started on the ribbons, bows, and foofy decorations. Gack.

And then there's the giant mess in your living room after all the presents are opened. Some of the wrapping paper can be recycled, some can't, and you end up with a ton of paper in your trash can.

wrapping paper under Christmas tree

A couple of years ago, I decided to make fabric gift bags of all sizes to use for Christmas presents. I figured with a little bit of work up front, I'd never have to buy wrapping paper again.

It was too good to be true!

I realized at the end of the day that nobody had returned the bags their gifts were in. So here I am, sewing up another set of reusable gift bags. This time I took pictures so you can make them too. 🙂

You do NOT need any kind of fancy sewing skills to make these bags. You can even sew them by hand if you don't have a sewing machine (or use a hot glue gun with fabric glue--I won't tell).

fabric gift bags with Christmas gifts

Why make your own gift bags?

Homemade gift bags are versatile. You can make giant gift bags for oversized or oddly-shaped gifts, or tiny bags for jewelry or crystals--the process is the same for any size bag.

Use a light muslin and make produce bags to take to the farmer's market or grocery store; pick out a fun print and make a bag for the kids' blocks or LEGOs; or make your own birthday party goodie bags.

Fabric gift bags are reusable and eco-friendly. Most wrapping paper and ribbons are thrown away or can't be recycled, which creates more trash in an already-overloaded system.

Fabric gift bags can be reused, washed, mended, and repurposed. If you have any zero-waste friends or family, they'll be shared and passed around from year to year.

DIY gift bags cost less. Holiday fabric is usually on clearance a month or two before the holiday, and one yard of fabric can cost as little as $3. For less than the cost of a roll of wrapping paper, you can make 8-10 reusable gift bags!

colorful fabric gift bags

homemade gift bag finished

Sew an Easy Drawstring Gift Bag

Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Materials

  • Fabric of your choice: I used 100% cotton with a holiday print, but you can use any type your recipient would like.
  • 1/4" satin or grosgrain ribbon for the drawstring.

Tools

  • Sewing machine
  • Iron
  • Sharp scissors and safety pins

Instructions

  1. Measure the size of your gift. (This seems obvious, but if you saw the first batch of too-small-for-anything bags I made you'd understand.)
  2. Give yourself at least an inch of space all the way around, and cut out the desired shape.
  3. measure gift for fabric gift bag

    Quick Fold Trick:

    Turn the fabric over so you're looking at the wrong side. Fold the top two inches over so the fold runs off the side of the fabric.

    fold fabric to sew gift bag

    Iron or pin it so the fold will stay.

    Stitch the fold so it stays in place by running a straight stitch through the folded part and right off the edge of the fabric. Repeat on all four corners.

    fabric going through sewing machine

Sew up Sides and Top:

Run a straight stitch up from the bottom to close up the sides, stopping when you get to the folded part. Fold over about 1/4 inch of each top flap, iron it so it stays, and stitch across.

Christmas fabric for sewing gift bag

Finish Drawstring Tunnel:

Fold down each of the top flaps, and sew all the way across to make the drawstring tunnel. Don't sew the bag shut (ask me how I know). Repeat on the other side.

folded fabric for gift bag

Never buy wrapping paper again! Sew this easy drawstring gift bag and save time, money, and the environment. Great use for fabric scraps or fat quarters.

Add the Ribbon:

Measure how much ribbon you'll need, and then put a safety pin on the end to make it easier to thread the ribbon through the fabric tunnel.

measure ribbon for drawstring gift bag

using safety pin to pull ribbon through gift bag

Thread the ribbon through one side of the tunnel, across the "jump," and out the other side. Knot the ends. Repeat, starting the ribbon on the opposite side, so you can pull the knots to close the bag.

pulling ribbon through fabric gift bag

pulling ribbon through fabric gift bag

ribbon on homemade gift bag

And you're done! How awesome is that? You now have gift bags that are resuable, washable, and can fit presents of just about any size or shape.

homemade gift bag finished

Notes

Drawstring bags have tons of uses beyond Christmas presents:

  • Use a light muslin and make produce bags to take to the farmer's market or grocery store.
  • Pick out a fun print and make a bag for the kids' blocks or LEGO.
  • Whip up birthday party goodie bags.

Recommended Products

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What will you use your DIY gift bags for?

large and small gifts wrapped in fabric gift bags

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