Growing up, we reused our wrapping paper. We were trained from a young age to never tear into our presents. Instead, we were to carefully remove the tape and gently pull away the wrap. The pretty paper was then smoothed, folded, and stored for its next use. I guess this means we were recycling long before it was cool. We had one particular piece of Christmas wrap that made an appearance every year for as long as I can remember. It got a little smaller with each use, but we were always anxious to see who's present would be wrapped in the pretty blue Silent Night paper. Maybe it's this background of recycling and re-use that has led to our recent string of gift bag tutorials. They're a perfect way to avoid wrapping paper entirely, instead creating a reusable bag that's almost as much fun as the present inside - especially when made with fabrics as lovely as Marjolein Bastin's Nature's Palette for FreeSprit.
Gift bags are a quick project and a great way to mix and match colors from within a collection. Each of our Nature's Palette gift bags uses three different coordinated prints. We used fat quarters which made it particularly easy, but that's not a requirement. We changed up the look of the closure with an eyelet-threaded drawstring, which looks super stylish but is actually super easy.
Our thanks to all our friends at FreeSpirit for selecting us to create the debut project collection for their new Marjolein Bastin collection. Nature's Palette ships this month to in-store and online retailers. Click here for a complete FreeSpirit Dealer Locator. Not all dealers receive and/or display fabrics at the same time. And remember, if your favorite retailer doesn't carry Nature's Palette you can always request a special order.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any sewing machine (we recommend the Janome Magnolia 7325)
Fabric and Other Supplies
Supplies shown are for ONE bag, which finishes at approximately 10" x 10" with a 2" corner and base.
Click here for the Nature's Palette Swatch page at FreeSpirit fabrics, which shows the entire collection in all colorways.
- ½ yard of 44-45" wide cotton fabric for the bag's main exterior; for bag #1, we used Silhouette in Blue (003-Blue) from the Nature's Palette collection by Marjolein Bastin for FreeSpirit Fabrics – for bag #2, we used Florette in Rose (002 Rose) from the Nature's Palette collection by Marjolein Bastin for FreeSpirit Fabrics
- ¼ yard of 44-45" wide cotton fabric for the bag's top accent band; for bag #1, we used Floral Chain in Blue (006-Blue) from the Nature's Palette collection by Marjolein Bastin for FreeSpirit Fabrics – for bag #2, we used Chevron in Cream (007 Cream) from the Nature's Palette collection by Marjolein Bastin for FreeSpirit Fabrics
- ½ yard of 44-45" wide cotton fabric for the bag's lining; for bag #1, we used Words in Jade (004-Jade) from the Nature's Palette collection by Marjolein Bastin for FreeSpirit Fabrics – for bag #2, we used Floral Chain in Canary (006 Canary) from the Nature's Palette collection by Marjolein Bastin for FreeSpirit Fabrics
- ½ yard of 45" medium weight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon 809 Décor Bond®
- 1¼ yards of thin cording (it has to fit through the eyelets); we used a celery green satin cording purchased locally - you could also use a long shoelace
- Sixteen 5/32" eyelets - it's best to get an eyelet kit so you have both the eyelets and the proper size tool to insert them; we used a Dritz 5/32" Eyelet Kit in Nickel
- Eyelet hole punch; we used a leather punch tool, Dritz also makes an Eyelet Plier Kit
- All purpose thread to match fabrics
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Tape measure
- Straight pins
The instructions below are the steps to create ONE bag.
- From the fabric for the main exterior, cut TWO 12" high x 11" wide rectangles.
- From the fabric for the top accent band, cut ONE 7" high x 21" wide rectangle.
- From the fabric for the lining, cut TWO 12" high x 11" wide rectangles.
- From the fusible interfacing, cut FOUR 11" x 12" rectangles.
- Cut the cording into ONE 40-42" length. The length depends on how big a bow you want to tie and how full the bag will be. It's usually best to err on the long side and trim when finished if too long.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse one piece of interfacing to the wrong side of all four main fabric rectangles (the two exterior and the two lining pieces). The accent band does not get interfacing.
- Pin the front and back exterior pieces right sides together along both sides and across the bottom.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners.
- Repeat to pin and stitch the two lining pieces together.
Box the bottom corners of the exterior and the lining
- Our bag is designed to have 2" sides and base. To create this width, we figured our corners at 1".
- Measure and mark each corner. Cut out the 1" corner squares along your drawn lines
- Press open all the seams.
- Flatten the corner.
- Double stitch the corner.
- Repeat to create the opposite corner.
NOTE: If you are new to boxed corners, check out our tutorial for step-by-step instructions.
- Repeat to create the corners in the bag lining.
- Turn the bag exterior right side out. Keep the bag lining wrong side out.
- Slip the bag lining inside the bag exterior, so the two are now wrong sides together. Align all the seams and the bottom corners.
- Set aside.
Top accent band and eyelets
- Find the 7" x 21" accent band piece.
- Fold and press the piece in half (3½" x 21"), wrong sides together, to set a center crease.
- Unfold wrong side up and place horizontally on your work surface.
- Along one long side, press up the raw edge ½".
- Re-fold, wrong sides together, along the center crease.
- Fold in half to find the exact center and mark.
- From this center point, measure 1½" down from the fold and mark. From this mark measure ½" to the left of center and place a pin. Then measure ½" to the right of center and place a pin. These two pin points to the left and right of center will become the two center front eyelets.
- Starting at the right-of-center mark, measure 1¼" to the right and mark. Repeat, measuring 1¼" each time an additional six times. You should end up with a total of EIGHT marked points to the right of center.
- Repeat to create the EIGHT marked points to the left of center.
- Unfold the accent band again, including the ½" fold along the one side, and align the 7" ends. Pin right sides together.
- Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the ends together, creating a loop. Press the seam open.
- Refold the accent band loop along the center crease line and the hem line, wrong sides together, matching the seam as you fold.
- Using a hole punch tool, punch a hole through both layers of the accent band at each of the sixteen marked points.
NOTE: You could use tiny scissors or an awl to make the eyelet holes, but a punch provides the cleanest, most uniform cut.
- Insert an eyelet into each hole, from the front to the back. Make sure the back of the eyelet is pushed all the way through both layers.
- Gently hammer into place, using the eyelet kit tool.
NOTE: Inserting an eyelet is very similar to inserting a grommet. The difference is that an eyelet is only one part while a grommet comes in two halves. If you are new to grommets and eyelets, take a look at our grommet tutorial for great step-by-step photos and instructions.
Attaching the band to the main bag to finish
- Find the bag (with the lining in place inside).
- Find the center front and center back of the bag and mark each of these points with a pin.
- Slide the accent band over the top of the bag so the band and bag are right sides together (which means the backs of the eyelets are facing up) and the raw edges are aligned.
- Align the center point of the band with the front center of the bag.
- Align the accent band seam with the back center of the bag. Fill in with pins all around.
- Using a ½" seam allowance stitch the accent band to the bag. This is a great time to use your free arm if you have one.
- Pull the accent band up. Press the band up and press the seam allowance towards the band.
- Refold the band along its original center crease. This will bring the band to the inside of the bag and the ½" folded edge will cover the bag/band seam you just made.
- Pin this folded edge in place all the way around first from the inside to make sure you have covered the seam all the way around. Then, carefully transfer your pins to the right side of the bag.
- Topstitch the accent band in place all the way around, ¼" from the seam within the accent band. This will catch the inside folded edge.
- Wrap a piece of tape around one end of the cording to stiffen the end for easy threading.
- Thread the cording in and out through the eyelets all the way around.
- Trim the cording if needed. Tie a small knot in each end.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild