Handmade Gift Bag Tutorial

Handmade Gift Bag Tutorial

The tutorial to make this sweet gift bag and the template for the adorable little elephant.
 I adore receiving lovingly hand-made gifts.


When that gift arrives in a beautiful hand-made bag, it takes me over the moon. Constructed with a neutral cotton/linen blend and adorned with its own made-to-suit motif, these easy-to-make bags have enough detail to make them special on their own, yet have a clean simplicity which elevates the gift found within.

Handmade Gift Bag Tutorial

Constructed with a neutral cotton/linen blend, and adorned with a made-to-suit motif, these bags have a plethora of uses after the gift-giving is done: pajama bag; project bag; lingerie bag; baby things bag; or bag for all sorts of kiddo collections - marbles, shells, matchbox cars, pink plastic princess things, doll clothes and on and on and on.  You can even appliqué a motif of the contents on the outside, so the user will know what to find on the inside!

The pattern for this bag is designed to be flexible to fit any kiddo/baby-sized project you have.  See fitting instructions in step 1 below.

Main Fabric: ½ yard neutral cotton/linen blend (60/40)
Appliqué: Contrasting fabric
Fabric Glue
Pencil and paper or monogram / appliqué template
Fabric Marker
Complimentary ribbon, yarn or twill tape for drawstring
Coordinating thread


 Cut-Out and Mark Fabric

Make each bag to fit your project. Cut fabric for bag approximately 4” wider and 8” longer than planned gift (4” for each length of bag). The bag is made from one long piece of fabric. So, don’t forget to cut twice the length of the gift, in addition to the margin above.  For example, if gift is 8x12”, cut fabric to 12x32”.

Fold piece of fabric with right sides facing together.

Mark gap for drawstring on wrong side of fabric at 3 ½” and then at 2 ¾ ”.

It should look like this:

Personalize Bag: Monogram or Motif

Now’s the time to personalize your bag.  You can do this with a monogram, an animal, a flower or even bits of left over fabric. I hand-drew this elephant on regular printer paper (Come on, its easier than it looks! Try it! Look at an image to help guide you).
If you don’t want to try your hand at drawing, please find the elephant template here. Carefully cut out your motif. To do the monogram, print-out an 120 pt., Arial block letter, cut it out and follow the same instructions below.

I used fabric glue to make the appliqué process as easy as possible. Glue the paper elephant to the WRONG SIDE of the complimentary fabric.  Don't forget to glue your letter, object or animal BACKWARDS!

Cut by following the paper shape.  This came out even cuter than I thought it would.  Love him. . . 

Keeping it easy - glue motif, paper and all, to the bag. Glue the design about 2 ½ ” from both the side and the bottom.  

Stitch your motif to the bag by following the outline of your object or monogram as closely and evenly as possible. Don’t worry if its not perfect – no one, except you, will notice.

Here is a monogram example:

Assemble Bag

I was planning on using pinking shears on the raw edges. So, I left a ⅞" seam allowance. Sew seam.  Stop where you've marked for the drawstring gap and backstitch here.  

Start re-sewing seam at next mark, remembering to backstitch.

Repeat steps 9 and 10 for other side of bag.  Here's what the drawstring gap should look like:

Trim ½ the seam allowance with pinking shears. 

Trim the top of the bag with pinking shears, as well.

Press open seams.

Now, for the bottom of the bag - pull the sides of the bag out so that the bottom corner of the bag looks like this, as close to a 90 degree corner as possible:

Use a ruler to mark a line 1” from the point.  If you want a bigger bottom on your bag, increase the distance from the point to the line. (If you increase the size of the bottom, you may also have to increase the margin around motif placement, in addition to adjusting the initial amount of cut fabric.)

Sew along the line you've just drawn:

The opposite side of the bag should look like this:

Repeat the above four-steps for the other corner.  The bottom of the bag should look like this:

The whole bag inside-out should look like this:

Create Gap for Drawstring

Now, turn 1 ¾” of bag-top over so the right side of the fabric is now showing.  Make sure it’s 1 ¾” around the entire lip of the bag. Press. Sew around the fold so the raw edge of the turned over fabric is just under the left side of your sewing foot (¼” from raw edge, or 1 ½” from top of bag).

After this initial pass around the bag-top, it should look like this on the inside - see how the gap opens just after the first sewn line?

Sew the second time around to create the space for the drawstring.  I do this ⅞”.

The inside of the bag should look like this:

Make Drawstring

Turn the bag inside out - you're almost done.  Now, its time to make the drawstring.  I use a paper clip, but you can also use a safety pin.  Attach the clip or pin to a piece of ribbon or twill tape.

Start threading drawstring by putting paperclip and ribbon through the gap on the outside.  It should look like this:

Thread through entire bag.

The first side of drawstring should look like this:

Now start at opposite side of bag and thread around the bag again.

Handmade Gift Bag Tutorial

Be careful when you come around to the other side where the ends of the first drawstring are.  Carefully scoot paperclip around the first ribbon, like this:

Handmade Gift Bag Tutorial

At the end, the drawstring should look like this. Make sure the ribbons are the same length - otherwise you end up with a frustratingly crooked drawstring bag.

Handmade Gift Bag Tutorial

Tie the two ends of each drawstring together

Handmade Gift Bag Tutorial

Now, pull the drawstring from the opposite end of the knotted end. Tuck the knotted ends inside the bag.

Handmade Gift Bag Tutorial

Handmade Gift Bag Tutorial

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