Thursday, December 4, 2008

Christmas Traditions: Fabric Gift Bags


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One of our best holiday traditions is our use of fabric gift bags instead of paper wrapping paper. Wrapping gifts in paper was a tedious, time-consuming process for me. It would take hours to cut the paper, to struggle to situate the paper on the gift (you know how wrapping paper always wants to roll back on itself), to rip the tape, to stick the tape... I hated it. I also felt a little bit sick watching all that paper go to waste. Even if we would recycle it or reuse it, I wanted to simplify the whole gift-wrapping process.





Enter the fabric gift bag. I had thought about making them for years, but never made the time, probably because I thought it would be too complicated, until one year I finally just did it. I bought half yard cuts in a variety of Christmas and winter themed fabric. I am not skilled at sewing structured objects, so I made the bags very simply. I folded the half-yard cuts in half, right sides together, selvedge to selvedge, and sewed a 1/4 inch seam up both raw sides. Then I folded the top edge down twice and sewed that hem, turned the bag right side out, and ta da, I had instant reusable gift wrap!


I toyed with the idea of making drawstring bags, but that was more sweat equity than I was willing to put in, so instead I simply cut 30 inch lengths of cord to tie around the sacks as a closure. Name tags are easy to attach, too. You can make your own tags using any method you like, or you can buy nice tags at the store.


I have both homemade and purchased tags, and we reuse those, too, year after year. Any tag on a string works well. You simply loop the sack cord through the string on the tag before tying the cord around the sack.



You can make the bags in any size you need. I made a variety of sizes, but the most useful size has been the half-yard bags, which turn out to be about 18x22 inches big. Clothes don't need to be boxed before wrapping; they just go right in the bag. Books stack up nicely, too. Even if the gift is much smaller than the capacity of an 18x22 bag, the sack still looks cute when it's tied shut.


Wrapping gifts now takes me about 30 minutes, as all I have to do is put the gifts into the bags and tie them shut. No more struggles with the paper, scissors, and tape! And, of course, no more waste.

The gift bags are so colorful under the tree every year. There's something about all those fabric sacks lined up that looks so cheerful and homey. I've been asked if my kids mind not being able to rip wrapping paper off their gifts in a mad frenzy. No, they don't mind. We've been using fabric bags since they were tots, so this is what they're used to. I suppose wrapping gifts this way makes it easier for them to sneak peeks before Christmas, but I don't think they do that. And if they do, well, they're just ruining their own Christmas morning!


12 comments:

Bunny said...

Fabric present sacks are great! We also use christmas boxes that we've had for years, the kind you usually end up opening and finding a pair of socks and mittens. Haha. We use gift bags as well, so that we can reuse them again and again. Brown packing paper is good too, because if we can't reuse it, then we can compost it! Store-bought wrapping paper seems like such a waste; always end up filling a trashbag full and it makes me sad to see it all go to waste. Luckily, our town incinerates trsh instead of dumping it in a landfill, so much less waste and pollution.

Suze said...

I made only one fabric gift bag so far. heh, heh... I am sooo far behind. Good job!

Karen said...

Great job, I love fabric bags....saving the environment one bag at a time! Merry Christmas!

Lynn said...

We use fabric bags too. I made a bunch a few years ago in an effort to clean out my sewing room. Now, I just store that fabric in a different place. But, it does store more compactly than rolls of paper. We also have a big roll of newsprint on hand for projects so I sometimes use that for wrapping. I either leave it plain or decorate the paper depending on my mood. My daughter loves to help with the decorating of the paper.

Wendy said...

I had never thought about using reusable bags for Christmas before reading through all of these blogs for the 'sew mama sew' giveaway. It's a GREAT idea! We've started the tradition of giving inspirational Calendars to loved ones (one per family), I wonder if I could manage to make some of those bags for the Calendars this year? Hmmmm ...

nwhiker said...

You wrote about your bags a few years ago on list, and I grew envious... two or three years back my MIL helped AC and Perry make me fabric bags for Christmas! I love 'em, and we use them for anything that is not being mailed off!

Using my livejournal ID because I'm still irked with google and am not logging into there.

Cathy said...

This will be our second year of using cloth gift bags. We absolutely loved it last year. This year we are sending all gifts to family in bags with a note that they are meant to be reused. Maybe next year we will get back one of our bags!

Tricia said...

What 'technology' do you use to make your tags reusable?

As you may recall, my MIL made me a passel of gift bags a few years back. She also made me matching reusable gift tags. But they're supposed to be wiped off with fingernail polish remover, which I don't have (and don't want to buy). So I've been putting stickers in those tags (if I use them at all) and it's vaguely dissatisfying. I've been having fun this year making gift tags out of old Christmas cards - maybe I should just stick with that...

besomom said...

It's nice to hear that so many of you use fabric bags, too!

Tricia, I made some some tags out of old Christmas cards, and some out of fabric (I sewed little pillow-like objects, added decorative buttons, and wrote the name with a fine-point permanent marker.) I also made my own paper one year and used cookie molds to form tags. There's no reason to have to wipe names off and rewrite them. Each person just gets the same tags over and over every year!

Gayle said...

A fw years ago I made a few. One that I amade was velvet from a re-use shop near my house. I places my Now sister-in -laws present into it. She liked the bag more than her gift. She wouldn't re-use it since she loved it too much. The following Christmas I made her a bag full of cloth gift bags. She was thrilled!!! I won't go back to paper.

Tricia said...

Oh I get it. Our tags match the bags (more or less) so I felt restricted in how I could use them, and felt obligated to clean and rewrite. I needed to think outside the box!

Glenda said...

I toyed with the idea of making fabric gift bags this year, but then looked in the back of our closet and discovered we still had 3 or 4 rolls of Christmas wrapping paper from the past several years, so used some of that this year. However, I'm going to donate the rest of it to Goodwill and make fabric gift bags next Christmas. I love the idea of *not* making drawstrings and using a piece of cord or ribbon instead -- that's right up my alley, and will ensure the bags will be made (cuz drawstring bags = more sewing effort = probably won't happen LOL).

I saved the front of this year's Christmas cards to cut out and use as tags next Christmas =)