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Homemade Gift Bags

Frugal Crafts and Homemade Gifts (featured column)
Submitted by Pam Kirst

Homemade gifts bags 1

The first time I got one, I thought, "Great! A handy canvas tote! So what if it has advertising all over it?" And then, suddenly I was picking them up everywhere; meetings, events, bookstores, supermarkets. These canvas bags, nicely devised to take the place of disposables, have taken over my craft closet. I’ll never put them all to good use. Unless… I turn them into gift bags.

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The bag above was left on a freebie table by my boss, The Dean of Arts and Sciences at a little two year college somewhere in Ohio. It’s now a personalized gift bag--the sponsoring academic organization’s advertising covered, and leftover zebra striped blanket material trending things up.

Here’s what I used to repurpose this bag:

Unwanted canvas bag
Craft scissors
Brown paper shopping bag or sheet of newspaper
Scraps of fleecy blanket, or other sturdy, thick, material (mine was left over from recovering a footstool; you’ll need about half a yard)
Light material (I used an old pillowcase) for backing
Needle and matching thread
Spray adhesive
Card stock
Heavy needle
Permanent markers, thick and fine
Decoupage medium (like Mod Podge)

Homemade gifts bags 2

These are the steps I followed:

1. Trace the back of the bag onto the brown paper or newspaper.

2. Use the pattern you’ve just created to trace a piece of the heavy material and a matching piece of the lighter material for backing. Cut both materials, leaving 1/2" margin on all sides.

3. Put pieces together, right sides facing. Stitch around three sides; stitch halfway around the remaining side.

4. Pull fabric right-side out; fold unfinished edges inside; hand stitch.

5. Pin the fabric onto the back of the bag. Whipstitch into place.

6. Trace the area above the pocket, if the bag has one, adding three inches to extend into the pocket.

7. Repeat steps two and three with the smaller pieces of material.

8. Spray the back of this patch with adhesive; settle into place with the bottom hidden in the pocket, and the top aligned with the upper edge of the bag. Whipstitch from the top of the pocket on one side to the top of the pocket on the other. Place a book or other heavy object on the patch to help the adhesive stick firmly.

9. Cut the card stock to cover the advertising on your bag’s pocket.

10. Use the markers to create a design. I used as many phrases for a Dean’s bag as I could think of: Two Year Tote; Sciences Sack; Collegiate Clutch; etc. You could write the recipient’s name in different sizes and scripts; you could put the name, big, in the middle of the cardstock and write nice things describing the recipient; you could cut pictures out from magazines or use photos to cover the cardstock.

11. Use the heavy needle to poke holes in the card stock around the perimeter. Eyeball the distance, shooting for about a 1/2 inch between holes. Position the holes at least 3/5 inches from edge to avoid ripping.

12. Sew the card stock to the pocket, being careful not to sew through to the inside.

13. Fold the brown paper and slip inside the pocket for a buffer; carefully paint the cardstock with the decoupage medium.

14. Let dry.

15. Remove the brown paper from the pocket and put the recipient’s gift into the personalized packaging.

Because my theme colors are black and white, I’m going to iron some recycled white tissue and some sheets of newspaper and use them to wrap The Dean’s birthday gift… and have some festive paper points sticking out of the bag.

Il hope to earn some nice points with my boss, too. I am a firm believer that the package makes the gift, and the more personal, the more appreciated.

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Copyright © 2013 by Pam Kirst. All rights reserved.

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