Gift Bags

It all started a few years back when we wanted to give a bunch of wine as holiday presents to different people. We bought a pile of fabric "wine bags" to enclose the bottles rather than struggling to wrap them in paper. Since wine bottle are usually similar in size and shape, a lot of different sources makes and sell these bags. Once we had some, we could see how easy they would be to make. They're just a tube that's closed at one end and doubled over at the other to conceal the edge at the opening. So, Sharon bought some fabric and made more for the next batch of gifts. Then I made some more when those ran out. Then, I realized the concept could be expanded to enclose other types of presents. Books, DVDs, and CDs are all roughly standardized within certain deviations. I had a big pile of leftover fabric from sewing projects, so I made a huge pile of bags in different sizes, and our dependence on these gifts bags became overriding.

I suppose there's an environmental angle. Gift bags can be re-used any number of times, instead of being thrown away after use like most wrapping paper. Really though, they are just fun to make and receive. Now that I don't do as much sewing as a I used to, I even have to buy fabric when we start to run out of bags and need more.

That's what I did yesterday. I noticed we were running low enough on bags that we probably were not going to make it through this year's holiday season. So, I went to the fabric store. I bought six yards of fabric total, two yards each of three different patterns. I bought these from the deep discount end of the clearance rack, for three dollars per yard. I aimed for fabric dark enough to conceal the conents of a bag, and with a regular pattern to make cutting easier. The best fabrics turned out to be cotton calicos, mostly from a collection of "country" prints. These were all about 45 inches wide.

The bags themselves are simple rectangles. I simply lay out the fabric, measure in from the end a set amount, cut off a strip, fold the strip right sides together, sew up both edges to make a closed tube, and finish the edges of the opening. Most of the bags start with strips 6.5 inches wide. Wine bags use a full strip, and bags for DVDs, CDs, and paperback book use a half a strip. For hardback books and other medium-sized gifts, the strip width varies from 10 to 15 inches. Most of those also use half strips.

To wrap a gift in a bag, I simply slide the gift into the bag, double over the opening of the bag, and tuck the extra fabric inside to one side of the gift. Then, I tie the whole thing shut with some decorative cord or fabric ribbon.

Anyway, I wound up making 44 bags yesterday. I made 6 wine bags, 18 small gift bags, and 18 medium gift bags in three different sizes. Since the fabric cost $18 total, each bag only used about 41 cents of fabric. Not bad for an evening's work!


44 Gift Bags

2009.12.01 at 8:00am EST