Thursday, March 17, 2011

Gift Bag Tutorial

I made a gift bag similar to this, for the gift of a friend of Nicolas who was having a birthday party.  Nicolas liked it so much that he wanted me to make one for him.  So I made this one from scraps I had from a different project.  The nice thing about these bags is that the recipient of the gift can use them as shopping bags or tote bags afterwards, or reuse them as a gift bag.

First, you need to determine the size of the bag you are making.  Remember to measure height, width and depth of the gift to make sure it fits, then add 1 inch all around each piece for hemming.  I didn't have a specific gift in mind, so I made a medium-sized bag.  For this bag I just took a standard piece of 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper for the front and back of the bag.  I took a second piece of paper and cut it in half length-wise for the side pieces.  The remaining half I reduced the width to three inches, for the handles.  I cut a third sheet of paper width-wise, making sure that the height of it was the same as the width for the side pieces.  That piece makes the bottom of the bag.

If you are using a light fabric like cotton, you may want to use interfacing, to stiffen it up enough so that the bag stays standing up, like a gift bag should.  However, if you are using a thicker fabric like jean fabric or twill, interfacing is not necessary.  The lining inside should be a lighter fabric. I used cotton outside and in, so after cutting all the material, the next step is to iron on the interfacing.  (I prefer fusible interfacing, myself.) 

When all the interfacing is ironed on to the outside fabric, take one of the front/back pieces and pin it, right sides facing each other and sew 5/8 from the edge, from the top to about 5/8 of an inch from the bottom.  It is important to leave the 5/8 inch space in order to fix on the bottom with ease afterwards.  If your fabric has a pattern that goes only one way, like mine, remember to make sure that none of the pieces are upside down, before pinning.

Continue sewing sides to front and back until you have a box, like this.  Do not forget the 5/8 inch space at the bottom of each seam.

Now take the bottom piece and pin it to the front.  Leave a 5/8 inch space on either side.  This way, all the seams meet at the point where you stopped.

Repeat on the back and bottom pieces and then on the side and bottom pieces.
Repeat the whole thing, with the pieces for the inner part of the bag.  Clip the corners at the bottom and trim all the seams.

Take the two handle pieces (one of the outer fabric and one of the inner) and pin together down both sides, (rights sides facing each other).  Sew together, leaving ends open.  Trim the seams.

Turn right sides out, press and stitch about 2/8 inch from edge.

Turn inner bag right side out and place into outer bag.  (Outer bag remains inside out.)  Pin bags together at sides.

Take handles, fold in half length-wise at ends and baste.

Place handles between the inner and the outer bags, at the front and the back, with ends sticking out.  Be sure to carefully measure the spot, so as to put the ends of each handle the same distance from the sides.  Pin the handles to the front and back and pin up the rest of the inner bag to the outer bag.

Sew around the top of the bag, leaving one side open.  Trim the seam all around, except for the side that was left open.

Through the open side, pull all the fabric right side out.

Stuff the lining into the bag and stitch 2/8 inch from the edge, all the way around the top. (Make sure the edges on the open side are tucked inside.)

You could just leave it like this, and use it as a tote bag, but it doesn't look much like a gift bag, nor does it stand nice and straight like one.
On the outside of the bag, pin the side seams, making sure to gather the lining seams as well, and stitch down the side 3/8 inch from the edge, to about 3/8 inch from the bottom.

When the side seams are done, do the same thing with the bottom seams.  When you are done, the corners should look like this.

Now you have a lovely gift bag, ready to be filled with something for someone you love!