Introduction: Easy Reusable Gift-Bags

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What's wrong with this scene? On Christmas morning, the children run down the stairs and look at their brilliantly decorated tree and all the presents wrapped-up lying beneath it with joy in their eyes... I'll give you a hint... It's the wrapped part, It's the wrapping paper.  In this instructable, I will show you how to make your own beautiful holiday gift-bags.

On December 25th, Millions of Families will rip open their Christmas presents, taking their cherished gifts, and leaving a mess of wrapping paper behind. On December 26th those families will start disposing of their "Christmas-Remains" by putting them on the curb and letting the garbage trucks take it away. Think of how much wrapping paper will be used this holiday season. To add insult to injury, that "paper" isn't quite paper. It's a mix of plasticy substances and paper. That means that all that "paper" ending up in the landfills contains some harmful plastics and inks that will take even longer to decompose. I have a solution to this. If we created a substitute for wrapping paper that could be used over and over again, we could severley cut down on our impact on our environment.

If you still need some more reasons to switch, consider the ease of pulling a drawstring and tying a bow instead of dealing with all of that wrapping paper and tape. Consider how much cheaper this is in the long run instead of buying new wrapping paper every year. Consider how much more elegant these bags will look when compared to the cheesy prints of dancing Santas and Rudolphs.

Step 1: Materials

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In order to make these bags, you will need some fabric. Don't worry about size; this is very much an "it-looks-close-enough" project. You will need something for a drawstring. In the past I've used shoe lace or paracord. Remember, cord comes in a variety of colors, once a local dollar store sold these sparkly, frilly shoe laces that worked great for this. You'll also need some means of sewing, some matching thread, a pair of scissors, and you might even want some poster board for templates.

Step 2: Cut the Fabric

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If you have the poster board, this is where you need it. Cut your template to your desired size of the bag then cut the fabric twice as big as the template.

Step 3: Sew the "Lip"

Picture of Sew the "Lip"

First, you'll need to sew the lip for the string. This step is different for different people depending on how you cut your fabric. See the diagram below for where to put your lip(s). To make the lip, fold down the right side of the fabric (that's the side with the good print) about 1" against the wrong side. Pin if necessary. Sew in a straight line across the lip.

Step 4: Sew Edges

Picture of Sew Edges

Fold the fabric so that the right sides are together. Again, if you are the type of person who needs to pin, go right ahead and do that now. Sew down along the open edges. Turn the bag right-side-out. Now the bag should look like a bag aside from the missing drawstring.

Step 5: Thread the Bag

Picture of Thread the Bag

Take whatever you're using for string and run that through the lip. A note about synthetic cords (paracord): make sure to fuse the ends of the cord. That's a fancy word in rope-lingo for melting, put the freshly cut end by a small flame to melt it. Also, if you have nothing hard on the end of your string (like the plastic piece on a shoelace) take a safety pin and pin it through the sting so you have something you can feel through the fabric lip.

Step 6: Further Improvements

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That's it your done! Reading through this makes it seem a lot more difficult than it really is. After making these for a while, I could cut my fabric in about a minute, sew the bag in about three minutes, and thread the string through the bag in another minute. Overall, one bag only takes me about five minutes.

I started this about a year ago. I've made a few improvements and found a couple variations. Let me explain...
  • If you cut a little rectangular notch where the string goes in and out of the bag at the lip, the bag will lay flat easier.
  • For added "gift-privacy", sew two pieces of fabric together, and then follow these steps.
  • To keep the string from coming out, set the machine to zig-zag and go back and forth over the middle of the lip (See Pic.)
  • To make gift tags, cut a piece of cardstock, punch a hole with a hole punch, and write your message.
  • You can use these to celebrate any "gift-giving" celebration. (Notice the birthday bag in the Intro Picture.)
  • The possibilities are endless, if you come up with any more ideas please comment so that everyone can improve their bags!

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