Every year I find myself buying lots of paper gift bags, especially for those family members for which I opt to buy a series of small items I know they need/will use throughout the year (gourmet food, bath accessories, etc). This year, in the true handmade spirit, I decided to make my own gift bags.
My initial idea was to use felt, lined with fabric. But then I found out a large piece of burlap at the bottom of my craft closet. I vaguely remember it coming to our house with the purpose of making a rug, but since I never made one and don't intend to in the near future, I thought it was perfect for the gift bags project. I washed it because of the dust but then decided against ironing it, I kind of liked the wrinkled effect.
I made the bags in three different sizes and though they are very easy to make, I took some pictures of the process while making the last one.
All you need is a long piece of burlap folded in half (the fold will be the bottom of the bag; if your piece of burlap is not long enough, no problem: you will need to sew on three sides instead of just two), one piece of lining fabric slightly longer than the burlap and two extra strips of burlap for the handles.
Sew the sides of the burlap and then sew a triangle at each bottom corner (on the wrong side), cutting off the excess fabric. Since burlap tends to fray a lot, I used a reinforced zig zag stitch and left a large seam allowance to make sure the bag is sturdy enough.
Turn the burlap inside out. The bottom corners should look like this:
Do the same with the lining fabric and then tuck it into the burlap, wrong sides together, folding the excess fabric over the burlap.
Pin the fabric all around the top of the bag, making sure the edge of the burlap is pinned in between the fabric.
Fold and sew the burlap strips to form the handles and pin them in place on the inside of the bag, pulling up the lining that is folded over the outside of the fabric (to make sure it is not pinned together with the handles). This will keep the stitches used to secure the handles from showing on the exterior and keep the bag neater.
Sew the handles in place. Again, I used a zig zag stitch. This is how it looks on the inside of the bag:
And on the outside (which will be covered by the lining fabric folded over):
Top stitch around the top of the bag (which you pinned initially). This will help secure the handles in place as well). Fold the edge of the lining and top stitch around it as well.
Your bag is ready!
Now make as many as you need and use them to "wrap" your Christmas gifts.
On a side note, the bags would probably look even better if I had used Christmas-y fabrics, but I had none in my stash and I'm trying very hard not to buy more craft supplies until I have used a significant part of the contents of my craft closet. So I used regular fabric instead. Maybe like this the recipients can reuse the bags as shopping bags throughout the year...