How to make reusable fabric gift bags – LSB

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When my girls were younger, my oldest daughter came up with the idea of ​​making reusable fabric gift bags. They had fun making them together and we followed the tradition of using Christmas gift bags to wrap our presents. Here’s the tutorial on how to make your own easy holiday gift bags for gift giving this season!

The paper gift bag is 20 years old

Before you fully understand why I’m so excited about these cloth gift bags, you need to understand the 20-year history of paper gift bags. These gift bags are infamous for popping up every year.

I grew up in a family on a tight budget, and while we never ran out of everything we needed, we certainly didn’t get everything we wanted (I’m very thankful for that). Many of my favorite gifts come from garage sales. My own kids even play with some of these things today. And then there was the gift bag…

The gift bag that kept on giving… itself.

My mom was great about not wasting things and filling up landfills before eco became fashionable. She wouldn’t throw away a perfectly good gift bag (good for her), so they just kept getting reused… year after year.

After Christmas, Mom carefully folded the bags and put them away for next year. Of course, this only worked with gifts we gave to other family members, but they had a system. They also kept bags from birthday parties and reused them to give birthday gifts.

They don’t make them like they used to

I’m pretty sure they don’t make gift bags (or most things) like they used to because those gift bags lasted years (and years and years). I didn’t realize how long until I saw one a few years ago that I had first received as a child! That meant it was over 20 years old and still kicking!

As impressive as it is that the bag lasted this long, I knew most paper gift bags wouldn’t these days. Our family has found that reusable cloth gift bags are a much better option.

Reusable cloth gift bags

Our family has been using these fabric gift bags for years. I love that they are completely reusable and high quality compared to the paper bags in the store. Surprisingly, they weren’t even that much more expensive to produce than the disposable versions. And if you can catch some Christmas sales, you can probably find organic cotton or muslin fabric at a discount, making them even more affordable.

Different types of crafting bags

Although we use these bags for Christmas gifts, there are many other options. You can make some in pastel colors for Easter gifts or make a batch for birthdays and baby shower gifts. We have cotton bags, but making some out of burlap would be cute too.

Make some tall gift bags to give as a wine bag with some healthier wine, or make some larger ones that can double as storage bags. You can even make smaller bags to use as jewelry bags or as party favor bags. I’ve even used some of the little organza bags before to make my own naturally scented drawer fresheners.

Why we use cloth gift bags

There are several great reasons to use fabric gift bags!

1. Waste reduction

Holiday litter is a BIG problem and getting bigger!

Think about it, in the US alone we use over 4 million pounds of gift wrap each year and much of it ends up in the landfill. There is also an additional 2 billion pounds of trash generated each week during the holiday season. Then there are over 1 billion holiday cards that also end up in the trash.

Reusable bags solve this problem… and you never have to buy expensive wrapping paper again!

2. Easier to pack (and store)

Have you ever spent hours wrapping presents on Christmas Eve? With six children and many family members, there is a lot of gift wrapping each year. Although each person only receives one gift, it adds up. Hours spent meticulously wrapping only for the kids to rip it off in 10 seconds!

These bags cut my packing time in less than half. Just put the gifts in the bag, tie with a ribbon and you’re done!

Also, there’s no need to try to keep tubes of partially used wrapping paper from winding up in the closet or attic. They simply fold up after you use them and stay in a box until next year.

3. They look better

This is totally subjective, but I really think these bags are cuter than most wrapping paper! Add a kraft paper gift tag to the ribbon or jute string and you have a nice looking gift.

Do you want to buy them?

If you don’t have the time or inclination to make them, you can find really nice drawstring gift bags online. Check out these great holiday gift bags made from Christmas themed fabric. Whatever you use, please consider using reusable gift wrapping options! Our overcrowded landfills will thank you.

How to make reusable fabric gift bags

The only downside to these bags is the little sewing they require, although they are a super easy sewing project. My girls first made these when they were ages 3-8 and they loved working on this project! For an even easier no-sew option, try these DIY t-shirt bags that double as shopping bags.

You will need:

  • Christmas fabric of choice: I really recommend supporting a local shop and you can find great deals on Christmas fabrics after Christmas. We found some with snowflakes and a snowman on them, along with other seasonal fabrics. You can even choose red fabric to look like Santa’s little sack.
  • Pink Scissors: It’s not absolutely necessary, but these pinking shears cut the edges of the fabric in a zig-zag pattern so they don’t fray. This helps the bags last even longer and can eliminate the step of sewing a hem through the top if you don’t mind a zigzag as a finished edge.
  • Sewing machine: My girls got a heavy duty sewing machine for Christmas one year and used it a lot. There are some cheaper options out there, but this one had great reviews and a good warranty. I also like that it’s durable enough to sew through denim, which came in handy for some other projects. If you don’t have a machine, you can also sew by hand, although it will take longer.
  • Ribbon: Instead of adding a drawstring, we took the easier option and decided to use a ribbon to close the bags. They can be plain or have festive patterns on them. We reuse the ribbon along with the fabric gift bag.
fabric gift bags

How to make reusable fabric gift bags

Learn how to customize your own fabric gift bags to use as an alternative to disposable wrapping paper and gift bags.



  • Decide how big you want to make your bag. Be sure to make them taller than you think you’ll need so there’s room to tie at the top. We made a bunch in different sizes.

  • Cut the ends. If you want a zigzag top, then use the pinking shears to cut the top.

  • Place the right sides of the fabric together and pin the edges. It is important to join the correct sides so that the finished product does not show any seams. The girls learned this the hard way with one of their first projects and asked me to include the reminder!

  • Sew a 5/8 inch seam around three sides of the bag, leaving the top open. You can actually sew any size seam as it won’t be visible.

  • If you plan to hem the top, fold it down, iron it, and pin it. Sew the seam and turn the bag inside out. The other option is to leave the zigzag cut on top.

  • If you don’t want to hem the top, simply sew a straight seam around the top of the bag just below the cutout area. This helps prevent possible wear and tear.


To use your bag, place the gift inside and tie with a decorative ribbon.

What do you use for gift wrapping? Have you ever done DIY packing like this?

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