Tuesday, 12 July 2011

10-minute Gift Bags

This project is born out of the fact that I never seem to have wrapping paper, or gift bags, when I need them. I had a good stash for while after the babies were born, but to be honest when you're looking for a classy little bag for a friend's birthday, "Congratulations! Baby Boy!" bags just don't do the trick.

What I lack in wrapping paper, though, I more than make up for in fabric scraps. I have - actually, I can't bring myself to admit how many tupperware boxes of fabric I am currently hoarding underneath my bed. It's a lot. And I am determined to start getting through them. I adore fabric. Fabric is my favourite part of sewing. Looking at the perfect, crisp, beautiful sheets of cotton, corduroy, fleece - it's my porn. And so far too often I end up buying 'just a metre' of this and that, not knowing what it will become, but knowing that I have to bring it home with me. And thus, I have XX boxes of fabric, waiting to be used.

So, put these two problems together and we come up with 10-minute Gift Bags. If you're a sewer, you won't need any further instructions. If you're new to the craft, here are a few to get you going. I made these by the dozen and filled them with homemade roasted nuts and truffles for the nursery staff at Christmas. I make them to put baby presents in. They work for any occasion, and can be as simple or elaborate as you desire.

You will need:

  •  fabric (almost anything will work, but avoid fabrics that are very stiff, like felt)
  •  sewing machine and thread
  •  ribbon or string
  •  safety pin
  •  garnishes, if and as desired

Step 1: Cut a rectangle
(Apologies for the quality of photos in this post! For some reason they didn't turn out very well)

I can't really be more specific than that, because the size and shape will depend entirely on what you are wanting to wrap. The best thing to do is start by wrapping the fabric around the thing you want to wrap, add a centimetre or so, and mark. Then do the same with the height, making sure to leave enough fabric to gather around the top and the bottom, and add 3-5 centimetres on to that. Once you've got your dimensions, cut out so that you have a rectangle.

Step 2: Create a casing

Casing, once sewn
Fold over the top edge of your fabric to create a casing for your ribbon or string to fit through. If you are using string, this can be quite narrow, but still needs to be wide enough for a safety pin to pass through. If you're using a thick ribbon, make it slightly wider. Fold, press or pin if desired, and then sew along the bottom to make a little tunnel.

Step 3: Sew up the bag

Fold your rectangle in half, right side in, with the casing along the top. Starting below the casing you've just sewn, sew down along the side of the bag and across the bottom. Turn the bag right way out.
Bottom and side of the bag sewn up

Step 4: Thread the ribbon

Attach your safety pin to the end of the ribbon or string and pass it through one end of the casing. Using a wiggling method, work the ribbon around until it pops out the other end. Remove the pin, trim the ends, and voila! You have a drawstring bag, made in no time at all.

As always, you can make these more elaborate if you want by adding an applique initial or pattern, some lace or more ribbon, iron on emblems, or satin roses. Make larger versions in sturdy fabric to hold toys, laundry, or nappies. Make smaller versions in seasonal fabric, tie bells on the ends of the ribbons, and stuff with Christmas baking. Or fill with lavender for easy scented bags for your drawers.

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