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.

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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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Pam

Hey, I’m Pam! I created Brown Thumb Mama to share my homesteading journey and help you live a greener life. Ready to learn more? Check out my Free Resource Guides, or my Shop to learn more.

18 Comments

  1. Lynn on January 13, 2020 at 7:45 am

    And that’s easier than gift wrap?

    Still, it’s wonderful to have this tutorial for a good old-fashioned marble bag. Do kids even play marbles anymore?

  2. Brenda on December 10, 2019 at 8:18 am

    I don’t sew but love the idea. I have been looking on-line for extra extra large gift bags. I am hand crocheting large blankets for my four girls. Is there material large enough to do this? Not sure I can pull this off before christmas but I love the idea. Thank you!

  3. Diane on November 15, 2019 at 12:06 pm

    Anyone remember the day as a kid you were told to gently to remove the paper not a wild frenzy, my mother reused paper many a time. I love getting a gift in a bag always pass it along!

  4. Pam on December 10, 2018 at 11:42 am

    Glad you liked it. It’s a great way to use up some of your stash. Merry Christmas!

  5. Speattle on December 8, 2018 at 11:18 am

    I just saw this yesterday while doing a search for a quick and easy gift bag. You are right about the time! I did three in 45 minutes, and so I guess it really is a 15 minute project.

    I am giving some small gifts at a college reunion Christmas lunch tomorrow, and I have a lot of Christmas fabric odds and ends. I was able to make 3 and used some stash ribbon and little sew-in tags too. My hope is that the gift recipients will also re-use these for items they are gifting this year.

    Thanks for the cute and easy tutorial. Merry Christmas 2018!!

  6. Ellen on December 23, 2014 at 7:52 am

    When one gives a gift, unless one resides in the same household, the wrapping is usually considered to be part of the gift. Except with very thoughtful mason jar returners! 🙂 but the bags will probably continue to save someone from using wrapping paper again. Happy earth!

  7. Gift Bags on August 15, 2013 at 12:15 am

    This is gorgeous! Love what you’ve created with a piece of fabric. I must say you are so ingenious. Definitely will be trying this soon.

  8. Yarning Too on April 21, 2013 at 10:40 pm

    Thank you for posting this tute! I think I would like to make some for Christmas, birthdays etc. Great use for reclaimed fabric too!

  9. Skyfae on December 4, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    Plus you can get holiday themed fabric on clearance and start sewing for the next season after the first of the year. Lovely idea!

  10. Homa Style on November 7, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Thank you for joining Homa Style’s Simple Holiday Gift Idea Link Party. It’s hard to come up with new ideas for gifts and you helped with your gift bag idea. Thanks! Mark you calendar for the No Red Holiday Decor Link Party on Nov. 28. Plus the 12 Days of Christmas link party December 1st ~ 12th. http://homastyle.com/

  11. Homa Style on October 31, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    Homa Style is having a Simple Holiday Gift Idea Link Party. Your gift bag is fun and looks easy. It’s perfect for the party. Please join the link party at Homa Style.
    Here’s the link
    http://homastyle.com/wp/2012/10/31/simple-holiday-gift-ideas/
    Hope to see you there!

  12. What Joy Is Mine on October 22, 2012 at 2:43 am

    This is such a neat idea and sewing project. I think my daughter and I will make some for our food gifts. I am featuring your post this week at WJIM. I’m thankful to do so. Have a blessed week.

  13. Julie Kelley on October 17, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    What a great idea! I love to wrap presents, but always run out of time near the holidays, this would be great! I’m hosting a new We Share Wednesday Link Party and would love for you to join in!

  14. ~ Liz ~ on October 16, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    I’m with you on wrapping. It can be a pain. This looks like a great alternative if you can just get it done ahead of time and have them ready when you need them.
    Liz

  15. Jills Home Remedies on October 7, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    Cute idea!! My girls would love to help me make these!

  16. Meg@ Just A Little Nutty on October 4, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    Thank you SO much for this!
    It’s such a great idea but the best part is that my girls would really get into making these!
    We will be using this excellent idea for far more than holidays!
    Thanks for sharing!

  17. Smart! School {House} on October 4, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    Think of all the different possibilities! You are right, drawstring bags have tons of uses beyond Christmas! I’m feeling very inspired! Thank you for linking up at Whimsy Wednesdays with The NY Melrose Family and Smart! School {House}

    Kelly at Smart! School {House}
    http://www.smartschoolhouse.com
    http://www.thenymelrosefamily.com

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