Ditch Gift Wrapping: Make Your Own Holiday Bags

The holidays are almost here and whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or something else, many people give gifts. Why wrap those gifts in wasteful wrapping paper when you could wrap it in a beautiful hand-sewn fabric gift bag that can be used over and over for years to come? You still have lots of time to make some! The idea behind the gift bag is that after you give someone a gift wrapped in a cloth bag, that person will use it again to wrap a gift for someone else or maybe they will even give it back to you someday….with a gift inside of course.

Every year our local GreenMoms group on the California coast in Half Moon Bay makes fabric gift bags. We do it to reduce the waste created by wrapping paper – and share a little social time with each other. We also take the opportunity to share organic, vegetarian finger food ideas – we sample them on the spot of course! The bags turn out beautiful and in a variety of colors and sizes. We use fabric, ribbon, and thread that people donate from Freecycle or from moms that have no use for their fabric. You would be surprised how much some fancy ribbon can dress up almost any type of fabric!

Making a gift bag is easy. Here are some easy step-by-step directions from the Care2 website – it’s easier to do than you might imagine: www.care2.com/greenliving/holiday-gift-bags-and-wrapping-paper.html
“Step 1: Choose the size bags you want to make and then adapt them to this pattern: For one 20″ x 10″ inch bag, cut out a piece of fabric 12″ x 42″ inches in size. Fold the fabric in half [print side in] so that doubled it is 12″ x 21″ inches in size.
Step 2: With the “inside” sides pinned together, stitch the side seams on three sides. Turn inside out. Then turn inside the raw edge on the top of the bag and hem, either by hand or with a sewing machine.
Step 3: Cut a cloth ribbon at least 12″ long. At the seam of the bag on one side or the other, about 4 or 5 inches from the bag opening, stitch the middle of the ribbon to the bag. “ [GreenMoms note: we find it easier to tuck the center point of the ribbon into one of the side seams before we stitch the seam thus eliminating this step.]
Here are some other websites with great ideas about how to make your own wrapping paper:

http://www.eartheasy.com/gift_wrapping.htm
http://www.craftandfabriclinks.com/ezgiftbags/easy_giftbag_pattern.html

Have more about making your own gift wrapping? Please share your ideas!

-- Melinda

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