Gift Bags Again

It is in July that new Christmas fabrics are generally released. This is a good time to talk about gift bags again.

December Gift Bags
December Gift Bags

I have been thinking a lot about recycling, especially when we were home for -what seemed like- months during S-i-P. I heard a story on NPR last December a few days before Christmas. The announcer talked about how to tell whether gift wrap is recyclable and gave options for other materials to use. Also, ribbon, bows and glitter are generally not recyclable. He did not talk much about fabric gift bags. I heard this story and, as I had just been wrapping gifts in gift bags, I realized that I wanted to make another play to get people to use fabric.

Gift Bags stored and ready for use
Gift Bags stored and ready for use

It doesn’t matter what holidays you celebrate, there is fabric that can be used for every type of event. We use fabric gift bags for birthdays, housewarmings – everything. My SIL and I have made enough so that the extended family use them during Christmas as well.

As I have said before, this was not originally my idea. My SIL started it and I joined in, thinking it was an excellent opportunity to use some great fabric I wouldn’t normally buy or use. It was a lot easier to make bags for the whole family when two of us were sewing. My niece now makes bags which her Mom (not a sewist) uses to wrap her beautiful handmade cards.

One of the reasons I like gift bags is I can buy fun and novelty fabrics for which I usually wouldn’t have a use.


  • reusable
  • good way to use fabric you might not use for quilts
  • opportunity to buy holiday fabric without committing to making a holiday (or birthday) quilt
  • quick way to wrap
  • no need to rush out to buy gift wrap
  • no tape or scissors needed
  • small children can help wrap, or wrap their own gifts
  • Fabric costs can be amortized over the years of the gift bag use
  • bags are made quickly
  • good opportunity to try out decorative stitches
  • Can quickly make a gift bag for an oddly shaped gift. I once wrapped a weed whacker in a gift bag!
  • Odd sized bags can be up and used for different sized gifts
  • I reuse ribbon I get from other places for the ties
  • Easy to open and close the gift bag up again if the gift tag falls off
  • you can use fabric you already own, orphan blocks, vintage sheets
  • Embellishment possibilities are endless, if you want to take the time. Gift bags are a great way to try out different techniques, stitches and embellishments


  • takes time to develop a stockpile
  • reusable gift bags have to be stored
  • fabric costs are not insignificant
  • You don’t get beautiful mounds of boxed gifts under your tree

You have plenty of time to start stockpiling gift bags. You can use leaders and enders to make them, which means that your regular sewing isn’t interrupted much .



Gift Bags

I have been working on gifts for almost all of November. That makes it hard to have anything about which to post. The people for whom I am making gifts read my posts. I have almost finished the major gifts for the upcoming holidays, which is a relief. However, I have some gift bags to show you.

Julie Gift Bags
Julie Gift Bags

I talked about gift bags and making them as I go along earlier this year. It hasn’t worked out completely as planned. I had plenty of leaders and enders projects in the donation quilts I have been making. Also, because bags are good mind sorbet, but boring if you don’t need mind sorbet. Also, I have a lot of small gifts to wrap and small bags are quicker, but also fiddly-er. I will have to buckle down and find some small bags in my stash of bags or make some. The only other alternative is to wrap with actual paper and tape. Bleah.

I wanted to make gift bags in which to wrap the gifts. I have had some fabrics waiting to be made into gift bags. There happened to be some purple that was perfect for some of the gifts I have made.

Two Gift Bags

Wrapping gifts in paper is one of my least favorite activities. Gift wrapping is tolerable when I use gift bags, but still not a favorite activity. I envy the people who wrap gifts as an art form and wish I had a friend who would take over that role for me.

Last year I had a whole bunch of stocking stuffers to wrap with very little time to do it. It was torture. I did it and my mom entertained me while I worked, but it was still torture.

Since I buy stocking stuffers all year long, I decided I would wrap them as I bought them. It is going ok.

Two Green Gift Bags
Two Green Gift Bags

I bought some socks as a gift earlier this year and I am finally making progress on wrapping these gifts. It took me forever, but I did it. I did the work at Sew Day with Gerre and it didn’t even seem like I was making gift bags. Gift bags can be tedious and these were a bit fiddly, but chatting while I sewed made it ok.

Drawstring Gift Bags

Finished Jeni Baker Drawstring Gift Bags - Snack sized
Finished Jeni Baker Drawstring Gift Bags – Snack sized

I finally finished all of the gift bags I started at Gerre’s house a few weeks ago. I know I showed one of them previously. Sometimes I just have to show progress in order to make it seem real. The gifts are in them and ready for Christmas.

Crazy, I know, but those gifts arrived late for Christmas 2018, so I’ll just save them.

I am not sure I will make more of these bags for gift bags as they take quite a bit of time. Still, I bought some twill tape so I wouldn’t have to suffer through making drawstrings and I want to use that up. We’ll have to see.

As mentioned previously, Jeni Baker sells the pattern, which includes multiple sizes including a laundry bag size which is good for those of you sending kids off to college.

Gift Bag Done

Gift bag, drawstring style
Gift bag, drawstring style

The other week I went and had a sew day with Gerre.

I started to sew some drawstring bags to use as gift bags on the day I sewed with Gerre. I am trying to get the small gifts I purchase throughout the year wrapped as I buy them. As you know, I don’t like wrapping gifts and wrapping 30+ small gifts right before I went to Portland was my own special kind of torture. These bags, using Jeni Baker’s Drawstring bag pattern, are a start.

They have been laying around since the Sew Day with Gerre while I worked on other projects. The other day, I stitched a bit and finally finished one!!!! It turns out that I didn’t have much left to sew and doing several in a row really helped the process.

The size I chose (pattern includes multiple sizes) is a tiny bit small for the gift on which I planned to use them, but it will be fine. I can’t remember what I did with the drawstrings on the Juggling Balls bag, but I need to figure that out as the strings on this bag are definitely not acting like drawstrings.

Gift Bags

I had some Christmas fabrics laying around. They finally got on my nerves enough for me to cut them into the correct sizes for gift bags. I knew my MIL needed some larger ones, so the ones I made went to her. There are two shown above, but I made about 8.

Decorative Stitches
Decorative Stitches

The 6600 has some great decorative stitches. One I chose for the Hot Drinks gift bags were bells. They look festive,though I am not sure anyone will notice. *I know,* and that is what counts.

As I have said, gift bags are a great way to try out your decorative stitches and a great way to use up fabric. None of those reasons bring up not having to wrap gifts with paper and ribbon. You can find the tutorial for making gift bags on the tutorials page.

I still have the napkins I prepped at Sew Day to make and those are next on my list.

Sew Day Success

Weird Red Sun
Weird Red Sun

I went back and forth on what to bring to Sew Day. I thought for sure I would bring my machine. We are having a heat wave, which means record temperatures. I was hot and not really in the mood to be dragging a ton of stuff around, so in the end, I just brought projects to prep/cut out.

Sew Day Prep Completed
Sew Day Prep Completed

This focus was a good move. I was able to cut out or prepare 5.25 projects, which means it is time to sew again – HA! Not that it is ever time NOT to sew:

  • Finished trimming Dots & Stripes HSTs
  • Prepped En Provence HSTs
  • Cut out Napkin fronts
  • Cut out gift bags
  • Cut out 2 more Little Cell Phone Wallet bag parts
  • Started prepping more Sew Together Bags
Sew Day Projects
Sew Day Projects

I found another stash of HSTs that go with the Dots & Stripes HSTs I mentioned last week. They will make the piece larger, which is always good. I trimmed the last few I didn’t have time to trim at Craft Night and trimmed this new stash. Some progress.

I had cut the squares for the En Provence HSTs on Friday night, so I had sixteen less things (fabrics) to haul to sew day. I pinned the squares together and drew the lines in preparation for sewing using my Triangle Technique at home.

I grabbed the coffee fabric, which had been hanging around for awhile. I always intended it to be napkins, but I get tired of making them after a few. I had never gotten to cutting this fabric. I did on Saturday and yesterday I had an idea of what backing to use and who they will go to as a gift. I need to get to work.

It is hard to know whether to count cutting out gift bags as one project or one per fabric. I counted using a hybrid method. There were three different fabrics and I will end up with probably 7 bags total.

I also found the fabrics for my last two cell phone wallets. Now all of the pieces out of all the fabrics are cut. I need to start sewing, because I really miss not having the matching bags when I wear my tunics and dresses.

Finally, I started three more Sew Together Bags. One will be for me. I will use it for embroidery. The other two will be gifts. I only got one step of pieces cut, but it is a start. After making three at a time last winter, I think it takes almost the same amount of time to make three at once as it does to make one at a time. As you know the cutting of the pieces is the worst part. The weird thing is that the fabrics I want to use for the exterior have disappeared. I can’t move on to sewing until I find those.

Anna and Nicole, who I had never met came and showed off their projects. Anna is making a table runner with a Lone Star block in the center. She is using nice soft colors. Nicole is hand quilting a beautiful log cabin quilt made from a lovely combination of blues and greens. The fabrics looked like batiks, but I didn’t look that closely.

Mary had surgery on her elbow so mostly chatted with me, but did a little bit of handstitching. She also met with the Retreat committee.

Bonnie was making nametags for the Retreat with help from Nancy.

Marti was making round mug rugs. I have been thinking of making a couple of mug rugs for the Puzzle Guys at work, so she inspired me.

Lynette was working on zipper pouches she will donate to a holiday boutique to raise money for the Belmont Senior Center.

Others were there as well. We tried to keep cool and had some fans to help. It was a fun day and I am glad I went. I feel like I accomplished stuff.

Christmas Gift Bags

I am trying very hard to be process oriented rather than product oriented. The Morass feeling hasn’t helped. It turns out I am trying, simply, to get something finished.

I did feel a lot better on Monday night after what I completed over the weekend. Monday was a holiday and I actually spent some of it sewing. I hope I am over a hump, but you never know.

Christmas Gift Bags
Christmas Gift Bags

I bought some fabric at Wooden Gate when Mom and I met there earlier this month. One of the leaders and enders I was doing were Christmas gift bags from the fabric I bought there. I finished them on Sunday and was able to put 1.5 yards in the ‘used’ column.

The print is really fun and the fabric was 75% off. I am pleased that they are done.

Gift Bags

Happy Birthday gift bags
Happy Birthday gift bags

I was at a NSGW event over the weekend in Sacramento. I took the opportunity to visit two shops: the Fabric Garden and Quilter’s Corner. The Fabric Garden had a wonderful Alexander Happy Birthday print I couldn’t resist. I bought a couple of yards to use as gift bags.

I was pleased to be able to use my star decorative stitch again. It looks a little wonky, but not enough to worry about.

Typewriter Gift Bag

Gift Bag
Gift Bag

This is a different kind of gift bag than the one I usually make. A few years ago I made a couple of bags for wine. I was thinking of those bags when I bought the olive oil** for the hostess gifts. I remembered the basics so I didn’t even look at the post until I was writing this post. Also, I had just finished the Heart Bag, so I was freshly well versed in handles and turning bags. I felt confident that I could make one of these bags easily.

Gift Bag - Full
Gift Bag – Full

The size is different from wine, but I just measured the bottles of olive oil and made one bag (about 15″ around) for both bottles and the pour spout. The size was generous, though not so much that the bottles clinked around against each other.  I used some leftover pieces of batting to beef up the sturdiness of the bag. I used something different last time, but didn’t note what I used. It was pretty stiff. The batting worked fine this time.

I made two handles this time and think I prefer just one handle. It isn’t as fussy around the top. All in all, I am pretty pleased with how this bag came out and especially pleased that it was a quick project. I will definitely make more.










**Nota bene: there is a fancy olive oil store near my old office and we find that giving fancy olive oil is different than giving wine. Most people bring wine as a hostess gift and fancy olive oil is usable and well received.

Gift Bags as Leaders and Enders

Birthday Gift Bag
Birthday Gift Bag

There was a bit of a shortage of gift bags at Christmas. Not critical, but when you don’t always get them back, it happens. I also haven’t made any in a few years. Thus, it was time to get back on the bandwagon.

I bought a few pieces of Christmas fabric on sale to make up for the loss. I also snuck in a couple of pieces of birthday fabric into my cart that were just too cute to pass up.

Gift Bag (fabric from Mrs. K.)
Gift Bag (fabric from Mrs. K.)

I am a fiend for leaders and enders, but when you aren’t using a quarter inch foot it is hard to keep up the pace. This is where gift bags come in. They are a very forgiving project and I used them as leaders and enders as I made the Sew Together Bags.

Birthday Gift Bag
Birthday Gift Bag

Thus I got a few gift bags done without trying very hard. The ones shown here are just a few examples of the 8 or so I have made.

I have about 6 yards of fabric left to make more Christmas bags and I want to get to it, so I can offset some of the fabric I have bought and also get at least one stack off the floor.

Even More Gift Bags

I didn’t intend to make more gift bags. However,  I cleared off my cutting/work table and found some cuffs waiting to become Christmas pillowcases. I stared at them and finally decided to make them into gift bags instead. I am done with pillowcases for this year, I think.

Formerly cuffs, now gift bags
Formerly cuffs, now gift bags

They are long skinny bags, but what the heck?

The one on the right will fit a gift I have to give on Saturday at the BAMQG gift exchange, which is great. I am sure I will find a use for the other one. Pretty soon I am going to have to do a gift inventory and see what I still have to make or buy. at that time, I will wrap gifts with bags I have handy.

Thinking about gift bags, this reminds me that I have a huge gift to wrap. I don’t think I want to make a gift bag that big that will only be used once, or very occasionally. I might drape some Christmas fabric over it and tie a ribbon around it and call it done. Did I mention I found another stash of Christmas fabric when I was looking for beads for the ATCs?

More Christmas wrapping
More Christmas wrapping

I also made a few bags from the leftover lights fabrics. These are so cheerful.

Have you been making gift bags?

One More Gift Bag

Red Lights Gift Bag
Red Lights Gift Bag

The other day I talked about making some pillowcases. I had enough fabric left to make one gift bag. I am glad, because I like the fabric. I am happy to have at least a bit of it around the house. I don’t really need more gift bags, but I also don’t want to waste fabric. Gift bags are a good use of smallish pieces of fabric.

I have put a tutorial up, as long time readers will know, that tells you how to make gift bags. Save a tree: make a gift bag.

Donut Gift Bag

Donut Gift Bag
Donut Gift Bag

The other week when I made some gift bags I lost one. It turns out that I must have clipped a thread and been distracted while the bag and some other pieces slipped down behind my sewing table.

I, subsequently, dropped something else and felt like it was my birthday! I found all the things I had been wondering about.

It turned up again and is ready for use.

Non-Christmas Gift Bags

December Gift Bags
December Gift Bags

What the heck? I know you are wondering. Christmas is exploding all over and I am making birthday and Mother’s Day bags? Huh?

A week or so ago, I did some cleaning and clearing. Nothing crazy, just a bit. I found these fabrics and was about to get rid of them when we had to wrap gifts for the Young Man’s birthday. I used the same gift bags I always use. I don’t know what happens to them all, but they disappear except for the few that I snatch out of people’s hands as soon as they remove the gift, so they don’t walk off. I also love them and am not giving them up.

I thought that these fabrics would make nice additional gift bags, so I sewed for about 20 minutes and have 3 new gift bags. I had four, but one piece of fabric disappeared. I am sure it will turn up, but I didn’t take the time to look for it.

Need to make gift bags to save trees and save wrapping time. I have a tutorial. Now go make some gift bags!