I used to spend hours on gift wrapping, channeling Martha Stewart to get the perfect artisan look with fresh greens and layered papers. Or maybe I dreamed that. Yep, I’m almost certain that was just a dream. I may not be able to live up to the magic elves that inhabit Pinterest, but thanks to this super cute gift bag pattern, I can hold my own. Our simple yet clever design results in a beautifully finished bag inside and out – no exposed seams, no elves needed. Plus, because you can use them over and over, they’re a green alternative to gift wrap.
Although these little bags are sweet enough to be a gift all in themselves, they are also a great size to tuck all kinds of smallish gifts. The main section of the bag is 6” wide x 6” high x 2” deep with a 2” gathered top that provides a bit of extra flexibility.
We used holiday fabric, but any scraps would be fun. They could even be made with some of your favorite leftover layer cake squares. The lining and accent band can match, as they do on our bag set, or you can bring in a third fabric for the inside.
Our fabric choices came from this year’s Storybook Christmas collection by Windham Fabrics. The drawcord is a simple grosgrain ribbon. The fabric collection reminded us of vintage wrapping paper and cards, perfect for this project and easy to mix and match. Fabric Depot has a good selection of this collection online and on sale.
Get your present wrapping in the bag. We’d love to see how yours turn out. Post a picture on Facebook (sew4Home), Instagram (sew4home_diy), or Twitter (sew4home) so we can all be inspired!
Once the holidays are over, use the same pattern to make gift bags for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and more. Because there’s always a reason to bring a little something, and when the outside is as lovely as what’s inside, it’s double the fun.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Sewing machine and standard presser foot
- Quarter Inch Seam foot; optional, but helpful as all the seam allowances are ¼”
Fabric and Other Supplies
Quantities shown below are for ONE gift bag.
- Scrap or ¼ yard of 44”+ wide quilting weight cotton for the exterior
- Scrap or ¼ yard of 44”+ wide quilting weight cotton for the accent band
- Scrap or ¼ yard of 44”+ wide quilting weight cotton for the lining
NOTE: As mentioned above, we used the same fabric for our accent band and lining. Check the Getting Started section below for exact cut sizes.
- Scrap or ¼ yard of 20"+ lightweight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon Shape Flex
- 1 yard of ½" wide ribbon or similar for the drawcord
- 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
- Large safety pin
- Seam sealant, such as Dritz Fray Check; optional for the ribbon ends
The instructions below are the steps to create ONE gift bag.
- From the fabric for the exterior, cut TWO 8½” wide x 7½” high rectangles.
- From the fabric for the accent band, cut TWO 8½” wide x 5” high rectangles.
- From the fabric for the lining, cut TWO 8½” wide x 7½” high rectangles.
NOTE: Remember, we used the same fabric for the accent band and lining. You can follow this idea or use three different fabrics.
- From the fusible interfacing, cut TWO 8½” x 7½” rectangles.
- Cut the ribbon in half into two 18" lengths.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
Prepare the main exterior and lining panels
- Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse one piece of interfacing to the wrong side of the two exterior panels.
- If you’d like to add a label as we did, measure and place this in one lower corner of one panel. Our label was placed 2” up from the bottom raw edge of the panel and 1¾” in from the left raw side edge.
- Thread the machine with thread to best match the label in the top and bobbin and stitch the label in place.
- Pin the front and back exterior pieces right sides together along both sides.
- If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to best match the fabric.
- Stitch both sides, using a ¼" seam allowance.
- Repeat to pin and stitch the two lining pieces together. These pieces are not fused.
Box the bottom corners of the exterior and the interior
- Draw a 1¼" square in each bottom corner of both the exterior and the lining sewn panels.
- Cut out the corners along the drawn lines on both the exterior and the lining
- Pin the bottom of the bag exterior.
- Stitch across the bottom of the bag, using a ¼" seam allowance.
- Press open all the seam allowances.
- Repeat to stitch and press the lining.
- Using both hands, pinch and pull apart one bottom corner of the bag exterior. Precisely match the two seams front to back. Pin in place.
- Stitch across the corner, using a ¼" seam allowance. It's a good idea to double or triple stitch the seam for extra strength.
- Repeat for the opposite corner. Then repeat to make matching corners in the bag lining.
NOTE: If you are brand new to boxed corners, take a look at our full, step-by-step tutorial on the technique, which shows this method as well as another popular option.
- 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. Pin the layers together at the side seams.
- Set aside.
Top accent band
- Find the two 8½” x 5” accent bands.
- Fold both pieces in half, wrong sides together, so they are now 8½” x 2½”. Press to set a center crease.
- Unfold one piece wrong side up. Place it horizontally on your work surface.
- On each 5" side, within the top half, measure and mark 1" from the top raw edge. From that mark, measure an additional ¾" and make a second mark. The space between these two marks will become the channel for the drawcord.
- Along the bottom 8½“ edge, fold up the raw edge ¼" and press.
- Repeat these steps on the second accent band piece.
- Place the two accent band pieces right sides together and pin along both 5" sides. Match the channel marks. Unfold the ends of the bottom folded edges slightly so the side seams will be flat from top to bottom.
- Using a ¼" seam allowance, stitch both sides, leaving the space between the two marks open along both sides. This means you will stitch to the first mark, lock your seam, remove the fabric and reposition it under the needle at the second mark, lock the seam again and stitch to the finish. Press the seam allowances open and flat and re-press the bottom fold.
- If necessary, re-thread your machine with thread to best match the accent band in the top and bobbin.
- Topstitch the seam allowance in place around the drawcord channel opening. You are essentially stitching a keyhole around the opening. This little oval of stitching catches and secures the seam allowance so it won’t be pulled out by the drawcord.
NOTE: If you have a free arm on your machine, this is a great time to use it. Simply slip the accent band over the free arm to more easily stitch around the opening.
- Find the bag (with the lining in place inside).
- Slide the accent band over the top of the bag so the band and bag are right sides together and the raw edges are aligned. Line up the seams and pin all around the top.
- Using a ¼" seam allowance stitch the accent band to the bag. Again, this is a great time to use your free arm if you have one.
- Pull the accent band up and press the seam allowance up toward the band. Refold the band along its original center crease. This will bring the band to the inside of the bag and that ¼" folded edge you made will cover the bag/band seam. Pin this edge in place all the way around.
- Press well, then transfer your pins to the right side of the bag.
- Topstitch the accent band in place all the way around, staying as close as possible to the seam line. This will catch the inside folded edge and will secure the seam allowance in its "up" position.
- Stitch ⅝" from the top fold of the accent band all the way around to form the top of the drawcord channel.
- Stitch a second seam ¾" from the first seam, all the way around, to form the bottom of the drawcord channel.
NOTE: These stitching lines are just above and just below the side seam openings.
- Attach a safety pin to one end of one length of ribbon. Insert this length into the side opening of the front channel.
- Thread through the front channel.
- Attach the safety pin to the remaining length of ribbon and thread it through the back channel.
- Pull each drawcord and tie the ends together into a bow at each side to secure. Because the channels are separated front to back, you are pushing the fabric along the ribbon to gather rather than pulling the ribbon. Once the gathers are as tight as you'd like, check to make sure the ribbon tails are basically even on each side. You can slide the ribbon to adjust by holding onto the gathers and pulling the ribbon through the channel to one side or the other. Tie the two tails into a knot and then a bow to secure.
NOTE: You can trim the ends of the ribbon if need be. We didn’t find it necessary. You can also use a little seam sealant on the ends of the ribbon to help prevent raveling.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild