How to make a gift bag out of fabric – Sewing for beginners

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Making gift bags out of fabric is super easy and a great project for beginner sewers. I will guide you through the four simple lines you have to sew to make a basic gift bag in ANY size. If sewing is not your thing, I have some no sew gift bag alternatives for you included in this article!

Fabric gift bag diy easy

There are two things I mainly LOVE about these DIY Gift Bags –

  1. they are super duper easy to make – a great sewing project for beginners and a wonderful way to use up odds and ends of fabric. In fact, our first set of Christmas Gift Bags where made from some old (but special) curtains
  2. It is a wonderful way to make your Christmas more sustainable and eco friendly. You can still splurge on the gifts.. but this is a baby step towards reducing your overall Christmas “waste”. Introducting eco friendly and sustainable solutions to your family and kids!

This post of course focusses on how to sew a gift bag in 5 easy steps (only sewing 4 straight lines), but if you do not like sewing, and still want some eco friendly ideas.. here are some quick ones:

How to make NO SEW eco friendly gift bags

comic book bags

Though this is a slight digression on the topic of this post, I do want to share it with you.. as eco friendly gifting is more important than ever!! There are lots of great rustic looking brown paper gift wraps out there already.. but I will take it a step further… you can make your own recycled gift bags and gift boxes by:

  • exploring the Japanes style of fabric gift wrapping – Furoshiki – you only need a square piece of fabric.
  • carefully wash and dry a pringles can and paint/ decorate it for Gifting. Like we created our Nutcracker Pringles Gift Box – perfect for adding some theatre tickets and sweets as a way to wrap experience gifts.
  • Use old comic books to make paper gift bags (quick and easy) – personally I think comic books are most effective, but you can use the same technique with magazines or two layers of newspapers
  • Make comic book paper bows (again, applies to magazines and two layers of newspaper or even an old book for smaller bows)
  • Use the children’s old pillow cases – all you need is to add a ribbon – this is something that we have done MANY times over the years and are a definite no sew fabric gift bag

No time?? But still want to change.. you can purchase GORGEOUS ready made fabric bags and Furoshiki bags online! Here is a collection of my favourite Eco Gift Bag ideas!

What about Brown Paper?

how to make paper gift bows

I love brown paper gift wrap and there are lots of ways to make it extra cool and festive.. BUT remember, this technically is not recycling and not reusing. You are “using” store bought brown paper that is brand new. Yes… better than the Christmas gift wrap available out there, with all its dyes and colours and glitter.. but still a purchase and a resource used. So I would use it with caution if your aim is to be SUPER eco friendly. But don’t feel guilty for using it either. Baby steps after all! If you are going “brown”, decorate with things like dried orange slices and comic paper bows!

How big do Fabric Gift Bags need to be?

I find the size of the gift bags change as your family grows up! When the kids where little we seemed to need lots of “big gift bags” and by “big”, I mean pillow case sized bags. Those big cuddly toys they wished for, or those family games for younger children, all seemed to need “BIG” fabric gift bags. In fact, we did use cute pillow cases OFTEN.

Now my kids are getting older, the gifts are shrinking in size.. think fit bit watches, books, special pens etc. For those you need a range of smaller gift sacks (like the one I am making with you here today.

So in short:

You will need a range of sizes. But depending on the age of your kids.. start with a few big ones, or a few small ones. And remember, things like gift vouchers can be gifted in fun upcycled like our Nutcracker Pringles Box!

What is the best fabric to use for DIY Gift Bags?

Personally, I love to UPCYCLE fabric for gift bag use, but of course, have also purchased fabris in the past. It is really hard not to! The best fabrics to upcycle for gift bags are:

  • Curtains (they are so big.. so you can make lots of sizes) – but not the super heavy duty ones, they are hard to sew!
  • Children’s bedding (if you feel you can’t pass it on for one reason or another) – kids bedding often has lots of super cute designs


  • light weight WHITE or pastel fabrics – I find these then to be a little see through and may show what’s inside your fabric gift bag! But if in doubt, just double up and use two layers

How do you make a fat quarter gift bag?

For a gift bag made from fat quarters, it is essentially the same instructions below, but I would use two pieces. Hem one edge on each. Bring the right sides together and then sew along 3 sides that don’t have a hem. Easy!

Or you can cut the fat quarter in half to make two rectangles and follow the instructions below.

So it depends on the size and final shape you want your gift bag to have!

How do you make a draw string bag?

You can follow the instructions shared here to make a simple draw string bag. There are only two differences – I would make the double folded hem wider. Make sure you sew as close to the edge as possible and then feed a ribbon through using a safety pin. Here is a simple YouTube video to follow.

To make your own Fabric Gift Bags you will need:

  • fabric* (as mentioned, I love to upcycle curtains and kids’ duvet covers)
  • a sewing machine
  • good scissors for cutting
  • pins
  • (possibly a ruler, but I like to wing it)

You will also need ribbons for “tying off” your gift bag. Again, I save these over the years form shopping boxes, other gifts etc and reuse them year in year out!

The size of the gift bag shown here used:

*Approx 45cm x 24cm piece of fabric. But it isn’t an exact science! This made what I would call a “small” gift bag.

How to make a gift bag from fabric

The video on auto play has a voice over with extra tips on sewing – I did it very quickly and am a bit chatty in it.. but I do hope it helps! 🙂

There are actually lots of ways you can make fabric gift bags – including, sewing in your ribbons, so you don’t have to go hunting for some on gift wrap day. But I like this bag the best as it is SO SO SOOOOO simple to make.

Or here is a drawing I did a few years ago.. both say the same thing! You may prefer one over the other!

Using my simple sewing pattern illustration as a guide, you will only need to:

  1. Cut the fabric to size
  2. Pin two hems at each end
  3. Sew the hems (i.e. sew two straight lines)
  4. Fold the fabric in half and pin again
  5. Sew two edges

Five super simple steps with only 4 straight lines to sew.

measure your fabric

Cut your fabric to size – I cut a piece roughly 45cm x 25cm. But to be honest, I folded it. Scrunched it up a little and looked what it “looked like” – adding a little for seam allowance! If you want your gift bag to fit specific things, use those items as a guide – e.g. get a book out and check the width and height etc.

fold the hem

Then I cut the fabric. And folded a “double layer hem” (see image). Basically, you need to folder it over twice. Check my illustration above – you need to fold and pin two hems. By folding the edges twice, you will avoid fraying.

pin hem in place

And then I pinned the hem in place.

sew the hem

Sew you the hem on both (opposite) hems! Remember when sewing – to do the “reverse stitch” at both ends to secure your sewing.

fold the fabric

Fold the fabric – right sides together – and so that the hems aline on one side. And pin. You can see “white” edge of fabric band, I decided to keep and to use it as my hem allowance, saving a little on fabric.

sew your edges

Now sew along the two edges!

And finished:

sew a bag

You can also make it with sewing a 5 edges (the one across the bottom) with this method you can combine smaller pieces of fabric or fabric of different colours and sizes if you wish. But again. It is a super simple sewing pattern and a great beginner’s sewing project for Christmas and Birthdays.

more bags

Want that next level of sewing? Try this lovely variation on sewing your own gift bags from Vicky Myers Creations!

As mentioned, I also have a set of fabulous Fabric Bags you can purchase from small independent sellers:

Reusable eco frabric wrap ideas from etsy

More CHRISTMAS Sewing Projects for Beginners and Kids: