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How to Make Reusable Gift Bags

This step by step tutorial will teach you how to make DIY Reusable Gift Bags. This eco-friendly Christmas and holiday wrap is so easy, the only challenge will be picking fabrics!

Three reusable gift bags

My husband, Troy’s family takes Christmas to a whole new level.  Picture an insanity-filled present orgy.  Now multiply that by 1,480, and that is Troy’s family’s Christmas.  I can’t keep up with all of those presents, so I don’t even try. The ones who really get into it, enjoy it, and we don’t dare try to tell them otherwise.

Every year they fill multiple huge garbage bags with wrapping paper, and then in-between the present opening (it takes about 4 hours) and eating, the boys head out and burn all the wrapping paper.

I decided I would try my best to not contribute to that burn pile.  Except for very few presents, everything under our tree is wrapped in cloth gift wrap.  I collect a yard of fabric here and a yard there over the year, and this is a great project for all those random scraps of fabric most of us crafters have hanging around.

A Christmas tree with reusable cloth gift bags

People adore receiving cloth gift wrap, and it truly makes a statement. You can personalize the fabric for the person, the occasion, or the special gift inside. The only drawback is many people love the reusable gift bags so much, they try to keep it. That isn’t happening on my watch.

Here is how things will go:

Giftee: “Oh Sarah, thank you so much, I love this xyz!”
Me: “You’re so welcome!  You can keep the bag if you want to.”  That statement will be made in a way that it is very clear that I’ll cut a bitch if they try to keep the bag. Merry Christmas!

I know it seems like a big undertaking to make all the wrapping, it is much less painful than watching me wrap with paper.  My old roommate once watched me try to wrap Christmas presents. After about 5 minutes, she said: “do you want me to show you how to do that”? I’m helpless with wrapping. Reusable gift bags are stupidly easy.

1) Double your cloth, and lay your present over it. You’re gauging how much fabric you need.

a piece of fabric for reusable cloth gift bags with a toy on top

 2) Cut a few inches beyond how much you think you’ll need.

fabric with a rotary cutter for making reusable cloth gift bags

3) Find the part that will be the top of the bag.

fabric folded over for making reusable gift bags with scissors

4) Then fold a seam over where you’ve identified the top.  Pin.

reusable cloth gift bags being sewn

5) Sew a simple hem.

reusable gift bags being sewn in a sewing machine

6) Fold the bag in half so that the right side (pretty side) of the fabric is facing itself, and sew so that only the “top” of the bag isn’t sewn together.  You’re essentially making a pocket.

a boxed toy laying on top of reusable gift bags

a process shot showing sewing reusable gift bags


an inside out reusable gift bag during the sewing process

7) Fold it right-side out, and voila, a gift bag.

an almost finished reusable gift bag during the sewing process

a reusable cloth gift bag with a bow

Tie a pretty bow, and decorate with a homemade gift tag.  We used a cut-up grocery bag to make gift tags.  I made these snowmen, but only had the patience to make 8 of them.

A finished reusable gift bag with a white bow

I am so happy to have pretty wrapping that can be used year after year. Also, I’m happy that wrapping takes about seven minutes now.  Seriously, me wrapping with paper is straight up ugly.  Watching me wrap a present would make you want to kick a small bunny.

Save the bunnies.  Make reusable gift bags.

Two kids opening Christmas presents wrapped in reusable gift bags
Love to sew? Tackle these Rice Heating Pads as your next project!

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17 comments on “How to Make Reusable Gift Bags”

  1. I started making cloth gift bags about 25 years ago – just a few the first year,adding more each year when
    after- Christmas sales made the fabric more affordable. I sew cloth ribbon on them so it can be used for years too.

    • That’s exactly right – I too started slowly and added over the years.

      I don’t tie the ribbon on since it limits my usage of the bag. I may want the ribbon up high or down low, etc. So I reuse the ribbon and store them inside the bags!

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this Sarah! I finally made some this year and they turned out beautifully, even though my sewing skills are extremely rudimentary. I even turned an unused elegant table runner into a beautiful bag with snap closures.

  3. Thanks for reposting! I saved wrapping paper, but we moved and I really really REALLY don’t want to dig it out of the pile of boxes. I might just do this 🙂 Oh and just so’s ya know. I love your blog enough to make it a point to click on all of the ads. Keep doing what you are doing. You add sparkle to my day. I love how you are so matter of fact. You don’t sugar coat it. Like real life.

  4. Your blog makes my day lol “I’ll cut a bitch I swear” LMAO You my dear, rock! Anyway, I use gift bags now for my family. They know to give them back so I can reuse them. I dont buy wrapping paper at all anymore. And I buy the gift bags after Christmas to use for the next year (for those gifts where I wont get the bag back) or I reuse bags I get throughout the year.

  5. I love using bags that we buy from the dollar store because we can reuse them again and again (and we do), but I love this even more. Kudos to you for making all of them at one time. I wouldn’t have the patience for that!!

  6. So glad you reposted this post. I read it last year and thought you were a genius. I remembered it just this week and was going to go back through your posts to try to find it and you beat me to it by reposting it. Are you reading my mind?

  7. I do this also. I swear it makes me physically ill to see paper ripped off presents and thrown away. I feel bad when I see people with rolls and rolls of it, knowing it’s going straight into the bin. Even those reuseable bags people buy don’t make me feel better, because ultimately they’re going the way of the wrapping apper too.Lovely pictures you have!

  8. I’m not sure why I haven’t done this yet. We typically wrap in paper bags (from the times we forget to bring our reusable bags to the store), or packing paper.
    I may have to see if I can make up a few of these to use throughout the year.

  9. I would so love to do that but we do Christmas with my in-laws and they are all about the waste. I am sometimes surprised that they don’t have “Kill the trees!” as their family chant. 😉 Someday when we can actually have a real Christmas at home I will be able to do this.

  10. Those are really neat! I do so many presents that I send away to family and friends that I have never thought about it (plus I am kind of quick at present wrapping). My husband wraps like you 🙂