Wednesday, July 28, 2010

20 Minute Reusable Gift Bag


I can never find a gift bag that is the proper size for the item I’m giving. Everything always seems too big or too small. So when I made the latest car caddy I used some inexpensive fabric from Ikea to make a bag that fit just right. This is a really simple and quick design that is very easily resized to suit your needs.

016 I started by cutting a long rectangle. The example above was from a 28 by 10 inch rectangle. I used my serger to quickly serge around the edges. If you don’t have a serger then you could use a zig-zag stitch to prevent fray or you could shave 5 minutes off the project by using pinking shears.

Fold the rectangle in half with the right sides together so that the two short edges meet. You are going to sew the two edges perpendicular to the fold but leave a hole (which you’ll use later for the drawstring.) To mark the hole placement put a pins 5 and 6 inches from the top of the bag on both sides.

Use your sewing machine to sew down the sides but don’t sew the inch between the pins.

018020 Press your seams open and fold your bag so that the seams are touching. Your corners should also line up and make triangles at the bottom of your bag.022 Use your rotary cutter or a good pair of scissors to cut both corners off at the same time. Make your cut parallel to the top of the bag. If you used pinking shears before you should use them here as well. Otherwise serge or zigzag this edge and then sew a seam along the edge as well. (On later bags I used a 4 thread serge and saved myself a step.)

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Next you need to hem the top of the bag. Fold the fabric so that the edge is about a 1/4 in below the hole on both sides of the bag. I used a marking pencil and ruler to draw a line on both sides of the bag connecting the top and bottom of the holes. Then I used the line to place my needle when sewing the drawstring casing.

031 040The most time-consuming part of this super fast bag is probably putting in the drawstring. My photos for this section uses 2 different colors for the drawstring so you can see what I am doing. but what you want are 2 ribbons, rope or strips of fabric (I used 1 inch strips of fabric cut from old T-shirts) about 8 inches longer than the circumference of the bag.

I started by feeding both strips through one side of the casing.


Then I took one of the strips (the blue one) and and fed it through right to left.


Next I took the other strap (green) and fed it through the same casing left to right.

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In the end both ends of one strip come out one hole and both of the other ends come out the other hole. Tie the ends of the strips together on each side and give them a yank to cinch your bag.

Now make a whole bunch more.

002With just a few modifications you can adjust the size. Increase the length to make it taller. Increase the width to make it wider. increase the distance the hole is from the top to add more ruffle to the top of the bag. Cut more or less off the corners to change the shape of the bottom.


I was able to make all these bags (and eat a relaxing lunch) during one of my son’s naps. I think you’ll find these bags are quick and addictive.



  1. Is 1.5 inches the "perfect" amount to cut off?

    eplusjustin at yahoo dot com
    Just Better Together

  2. If you cut off an inch and a half (measuring from the tip of the corner perpendicular to the ruler) then use 1/2 inch seam allowance you should end up with a 4 inch depth to the bag. That is generally what I cut off.