Each year I try to handmake gifts for my daughters' friends birthdays. Partly because I like handmade, but also so that the kids receive something different.
Now I know kids enjoy unwrapping their presents, but in an attempt to avoid all that wasted paper, I often try to make gift bags instead of using wrapping paper. The kids never seem to mind, and the bag becomes as much of a gift as the present!
For a party this weekend, I'd made a Pyramid Pouch using this great tutorial here, and also a Personalised Rag Tag. For both of these I used material from a pair of old jeans, and some fabric scraps.
Not wanting to give an empty pouch as a gift - I got a bag of jelly snakes to go inside!
So - on to the Gift Bag.
They are really simple to make - and you can decorate them how you like.
First your materials:
A pair of old jeans, fabric scraps, and a rectangle of material for the main bag
(I used a piece of calico 30 x 56cm (12 x 22"), but you could use any material, any size - depending on the size of your gift and the colour and style you want the bag to be!)
Once you've cut your main rectangle for the bag, cut one back pocket off the jeans, and also the hem from the bottom of both legs (these will be the straps)
Next cut strips of your scrap fabric just longer than each side of the jeans pocket and around 5cm (2") wide:
Pin then stitch these strips right sides facing down along the edge of the pocket piece. Stitch 2 opposite sides first, then fold those back and pin and stitch the last 2 opposite sides:
Then place your pocket with scrap border centrally on the top half of your main bag rectangle. Fold the 4 raw edges under and pin:
Stitch this into place.
Now the decoration is done, it's time to make the bag!
I use a French Seam here - which is really simple, and hides the raw edge for a neater look!
Fold the rectangle in half right sides facing out so it looks like a bag:
Pin and stitch along both sides:
Next trim your seam very close to the stitching.
Turn the bag inside out..
And stitch down the side seams again, so enclosing completely the raw edges of the seam:
This is what your seam will now look like inside the bag. Nice and neat!
Now all you need to do is finish off the top of the bag and attach the straps!
For the top - simply turn the top edge over twice to completely hide the raw edge. Pin and then stitch.
Then take those two bottom hems of the jeans, and pin into place around the top of the bag:
Then stitch each strap end into place with a box and cross:
And there you have one finished, upcycled and reusable Gift Bag:
Complete with a nifty pocket in the front for a small card:
So here is the complete gift for the birthday girl this weekend:
For the downloadable PDF version of this tutorial click here.
How do you wrap your birthday gifts? Do you ever make gift bags? Or are you happy to use wrapping paper - which the kids can enjoy rrrripping off the present!!
Is the wrapping as important as the present...
If you enjoyed this tutorial, there are many more on
- including a whole series of projects to sew in 5 steps and 15 minutes that anyone can try!
And if you want more ideas for jeans or any other clothes upcycling projects - check out the
which now has over 600 ideas linked up and is growing all the time!