January 18, 2012

DIY Fabric Gift Bags

So I know Christmas is long over, but I had to do just one last holiday related post and in a minute you'll see why.  Plus, I bet you are still finding pine needles across your house, so that makes one more holiday post okay in my book.  Now, here’s what my house looked like before gift exchanging with my family last year (2010):


Presents were everywhere and those plastic bags were filled with even  more wrapped gifts.  I don’t have an aftermath shot of that year, but here’s what the room looked like after all the gifts had been opened a few years ago:

Crazy right?  A big wrapping paper mess!  Now I know many families have a trash bag prepared and throw wrapping paper away as they open gifts, but I’ve always hated ruining the fun of present opening with having to stop and cleanup every 2 minutes.  You have to admit it is kind of fun to make a big giant mess and shouldn’t exchanging presents be fun?  Of course, cleaning up that mess is no fun at all.  Plus, wrapping so many presents is a nightmare!  Especially when there is a lot of other things to do for the holidays, gift wrapping just seems like a chore.

So after last year, my sister had the brilliant idea to sew reusable fabric gift bags.  It would be less of a mess, greener (no more wasting paper and these are reusable each year), cheaper in the long run (no more buying paper), more durable than using paper gift bags, easy to store when not in use, and best of all save a TON of time gift wrapping.  So we tried it this past year.  And here’s what the tree looked like:


Still a lot of presents, but the majority of them were in nice and neat cloth gift bags (we didn’t have enough bags for all of the gifts).  And let me tell you, gift wrapping was a breeze this year!  Now, I chose to loosely wrap/cover the presents in tissue paper before putting them in the fabric gift bags because I was worried some of the unwrapping mystery fun would be lost without wrapping, but it really wasn’t a big deal.  My sister just put her gifts in the bags, without tissue paper, and opening them wasn’t any less fun.  You can still shake or feel the bag and have pre-opening present guessing fun with the fabric bags so none of the “magic” was lost. 

So why am I telling you about this now?  Because now is the perfect time to buy holiday fabric because it’s on clearance!  Last year, around this time, I went to Walmart and stocked up on holiday fabric once it was 50 or 75% off.  I got several prints and I believe they were about $1.10 per yard.  I bought a LOT of it and ended up spending about $25 total.  Our plan was to sew the bags throughout the year, but of course we procrastinated until this past December (that’s why we ended up running out of time and not having enough bags sewn).  I’m not sure what their selection is like now, but a year ago when I bought the fabric, Walmart had cute holiday prints like Frosty the Snowman and Winnie the Pooh.

To make the bags, we first cut the fabric using paper gift bags as a guide for size.  I just put the paper gift bag on my fabric and cut the fabric to be slightly taller and two times wider than the paper template.  Then, depending on how it was cut (either 2 or 3 sides would have to be sewn shut depending on the kinds of pieces you are using) I sewed all of the sides together, just leaving an opening at the top.  The top was hemmed and we ran ribbon through so the bags would tie shut.  And its not necessary, but when I wasn’t lazy, I also sewed across the bottom two corners as shown so the finished product would have a more defined gift bag shape.  The photo below shows where I sewed in red:


Pretty simple!  As I mentioned before, I am a total novice when it comes to sewing, but this was a very easy project for me.  Here’s what this finished gift bag looked like:


I am very happy my sister convinced me to do this (she’s going to love reading that).  The biggest benefit of the gift bags is not having to spend hours wrapping presents like we used to.   The bags were a huge time saver and not any less fun.  My nephews (all under age 8) didn’t seem to care how the presents were wrapped and enjoyed opening them just the same.  Hopefully we will sew the remainder of our fabric into bags ahead of next December so we will be fully stocked up for the next holiday season.  Only 11 months to go!


Kim @ NewlyWoodwards said...

I really dig this idea! I actually bought Christmas clearance fabric last year for a similar purpose, and well, it didn't happen. ;) Maybe next year.

Your Sister said...

Ha ha! I did love reading that! Great post! And if I was an "I told you so" kind of person, I'd say it about your use of tissue paper this year. But, of course, I am not that kind of person. Nope, not at all!