Sew simple, inexpensive gift bags out of sale fabric

No doubt you're holiday'd out, but this hack will save sanity and trees later this year. I'm no seamstress, but from what I can tell, this is easy enough for anyone to do…even kids. My kids are always dying to sew things. And I'm always dying to wrap presents in anything but paper.

From the ever-resourceful Jill:

Too late to use this year, but not too late to buy holiday fabrics on sale.

My mother, my sister and her partner have started making fabric gift bags for the holidays (note that I am the lazy one who never uncovers her sewing machine). They've sewn bags in sizes from jewelry to huge boxes of Lego out of colorful holiday fabrics. The gaudier and more glittery the fabric the better they look under the tree. Some of the bags have drawstrings and others need a piece of colorful ribbon to tie closed.

We've swapped enough of these bags now to each have a great selection of colors and sizes. I didn't have a large enough bag around for my tot's new sleeping bag, so I used a colorful flannel pillowcase for it. The cleanup is simple, we produce very little waste, and save money by reusing the ones we were given the following year. Sometimes, for kids getting nosy enough to feel and shake gifts, some wadded tissue paper helps disguise the shape a little more.

Related: Kids' sewing machines? Talk amongst yourselves.

More: Hacks for gift bags


  1. hedra says

    Okay, I don’t need more excuses to buy fabric… but this is a good excuse! And I agree that gaudy/sparkly fabric would be extra useful… hmmm, summer project… (okay, like I need a summer project! LOL!)

  2. Parent Hacks Editor says

    hedra: Perhaps this is a good way to use up the fabric backlog? Then you’ll feel extra smug and hackerish.

  3. Kate says

    This is a GREAT hack. Years ago (pre-children) I sewed a bunch of bags with ribbon pulls to use for Christmas wrapping. I pull them out with relief every Christmas–“wrapping” used to be a big chore, but now it’s just a matter of matching the bags to the gifts.

  4. SWN says

    I’ve been doing this for years, but started before we had children. I find now that there’s just something lost in not tearing open wrapping paper. So I use our cloth for most gifts and the gifts from Santa come wrapped. That way the kids still get the joy of opening a few things, and we’re limiting our paper use and waste.

    I generally look for ribbons and other decorations post-holiday. Holiday fabric is frequently on sale during July!

  5. says

    I did this once, and the resulting bags disappeared without a trace into my family’s capacious black holes of random stuff, never to be seen again. :-D

  6. says

    Great idea. If someone’s not really a sewer (like me), they could also use a hot glue gun or the liquid stitch adhesive stuff you can get now.

  7. says

    We’ve been doing this for about 10 years now…also recommend making permanent gift tags (mine are cross-stitch and take about 10 mins each to make) that velcro onto the bags.

  8. Jill says

    To be even more thrifty, I reuse holiday greeting cards for gift tags. We cut off the back and use a hole punch thru the front picture tied onto the bag’s string/ribbon. I enjoy picking thru the old cards and re-reading notes from other years.

  9. Deirdre says

    You can also wrap it with the Japanese method of fabric wrapping this was in the Make blog):

    One of my daughters got a gift wrapped this way several years ago. The fabric is STILL a favorite plaything of hers, and we can’t remember what the present was. The fabric gets used as doll bedding, costumes, a bag, a rug, etc. etc. Of course it could also be used for wrapping another present or we could make something out of it.

  10. Elliot's Mom says

    You can even give the bags as a gift! I did this several years ago for my friends and relatives who already have 2 of everything! I made a bunch of fabric bags that could hold a wine bottle (or perfume, or lotions, or countless other small gifts) in various fabrics for different seasons/occasions and included matching ribbons to tie them closed. I also spray painted Altoids tins in various colors. These are perfect for jewelry or gift cards. Finally, I printed out small gift boxes (from the HP website) on card stock. I printed up suggested uses for the bags and boxes on a page entitled “Bags and Boxes and Bows! Oh My!” I packaged them all up together as a gift for the friend who always buys gift bags at the pharmacy on the way to the party and needless to say, she loved it.