How to Make Reusable Fabric Gift Bags

Ditch wasteful wrapping paper for good with these homemade gift bags.

The finishing touch to any heartfelt gift is wrapping it up for your recipient. But you may want to think twice before you reach for a roll of patterned wrapping paper. Since most of it is actually not recyclable, 4 million pounds of wrapping paper is added to the landfill each year.

But the good news is, you don't need a roll of wrapping paper to beautifully dress up your gift. Fabric gift bags have become increasingly popular over the past few years, and they're surprisingly easy to make. Plus, once you make them, you can reuse them every year (unlike wrapping paper which gets crumpled up and thrown away).

We'll show you how to make large and small reusable fabric gift bags you can use for any occasion.

2 blue bags with ties on top
Dera Burreson

How to Make a Reusable Fabric Gift Bag

Supplies Needed

  • ½ yard fabric
  • Sewing machine/thread
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Straight pins
  • Safety pin
  • Scissors
  • Pinking shears
  • Iron
  • Ribbon or twill tape

Step-by-Step Directions

Follow these simple how-to instructions to make your own fabric drawstring bags. You should be able to make a gift bag in under an hour.

Step 1: Cut Fabric

For each bag, you'll need two pieces of fabric. We recommend using cotton fabric (or any other easy-to-wash fabric) so you can easily launder it if needed. Cut two pieces of fabric for each bag. For a large bag, cut two pieces measuring 12 x 18 inches. For a small bag, cut two pieces measuring 7 1/2 x 11 inches. Iron fabric if needed.

Step 2: Hem Fabric

On both pieces of fabric, fold one short side up 1/4-inch. Press with an iron and stitch seam using a sewing machine. Measure from the hemmed top 3 inches on both sides, and place a straight pin.

Step 3: Trim and Stitch

With a 5/8-inch seam allowance sew from the pinned point down one side, across the bottom, and up the other side to the pinned point. Use pinking shears ($14, Michaels) to trim the three raw edges. Press open the 3-inch area at the top of the bag on both sides, then stitch on both sides.

Step 4: Fold and Stitch

Fold the top hemmed edge down the inside of the bag to the 3-inch starting point. Press and pin, then repeat on the other side. Sew along the hemmed edge, using the stitched line as a guide. Then sew along the top edge using a presser foot for seam allowance. (This creates the channel for adding ribbon.)

If you are making a small bag, turn it right-side-out and skip to step 6.

Step 5: Add a Boxed Bottom

If you are making a large bag, you'll need to make a boxed bottom before adding the ribbon. To make the boxed bottom, pull sides of fabric out at the bottom corners creating a point; measure 2 inches from the point and draw a line. This will create a triangle shape. Sew on this line, then repeat on the opposite corner. Trim with pinking shears.

Step 6: Thread Ribbon

To create the drawstring, turn the bag right-side out and add a safety pin to one end of the ribbon. You'll need about 2 feet of ribbon for each channel. Thread through one channel and back through the other channel, then repeat on the opposite side. When you're done, you're ready to fill the bag. Once you've added your gifts, cinch the bag shut and tie the ribbon in a bow.

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