Monday, May 14, 2012

DIY Gift Bags

My friend Olivia, a professional seamstress, is teaching me how to sew. I am so excited to be learning a new skill and am having a great time thinking of easy sewing projects! I finally conquered the pillow with my S.O.S. gang, so I felt fairly confident in taking on a new task. Going back to the States for a few weeks seemed like the perfect opportunity to make little gift bags and fill them with some Yorkshire goodies.

My handmade gift bag

Olivia convinced me that these draw-string bags wouldn't be that hard to make; now that I'm on the other side of this project, I can confirm that she's right. It's great for beginners. I wouldn't say that mine are perfect (at all!), but they are charming in that home-made kind of way.

The first step of making the bags is to pick out the fabric. This was my favorite part. There's a cute little fabric store near me that is quickly becoming my new hang-out. The staff is really friendly and the prices are fairly reasonable. It's way smaller than a JoAnn's back home, but it works for what I need.

Once you've got the fabric, then you need to figure out what size you want your bags. Give yourself more room than you think you need--especially if, like me, you're just starting out. My seam allowances were really out of whack because I was nervous about getting too close to the edge. That meant that in the end my bags were just a touch too small.

Measure twice, cut once

I cut out two squares per bag and pinned them in place. Make sure you put the two "good" sides together. Once it's sewed, you'll flip it inside out so the seams are hidden inside.

Then I sewed three of the four sides and flipped it right-side out.

They're starting to look like bags

Then I folded the material on the top and ironed the hem to make it easier to sew. I hate ironing, but trust me, it really helps. Once the crease is pressed sew all the way around the inside edge.

Unfortunately, here's where things started to go wrong. I mentioned earlier that I didn't make my bags big enough. This meant that I didn't have enough material for a proper hem. For the draw-string to be most effective, the ribbon needs to have plenty of clearance. Because I wasn't sewing 100% straight, and because I had to make the hem small anyway, my ribbon couldn't make it through. I ended up having to cut the sides to allow the ribbon to pop out.

This was one of my better hems

If you measured correctly though, use a seam ripper to take a couple of stitches out the side so you can get the ribbon through the top hem. The easiest way to get the ribbon through is by tying it to a safety pin and threading it through.

Thread your ribbon with a safety pin

I filled my bags with Yorkshire tea sachets and some British candy. It was a fun little treat to give my friends and family back home. Trust me, if I can do this, you can do it! I'd love to see what you can do. Post your creations in my comments section!

DIY draw-string bag


  1. Love my little drawstring bag and show it off to my friends whenever I can -- you did a great job! Thanks! :)

    1. So glad you love it! It was fun seeing you!!

  2. Those turned out great! Good job on the sewing.