Rain drops on roses, and whiskers on kittens; bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens; brown paper packages tied up with string….. wait, WHAT? Brown paper packages tied up with string? No, No, No… Adorable gift bags, made by hand, with love! That is one of my favorite things! Homemade wrappings, packages and bags make giving gifts even more special, by adding that personal touch. It is the extra effort, instantly recognized by the recipient, that shows you went the extra mile in making their gift especially for them.
Today we are making a fast, easy and super cute gift bag. This little tote is very versatile and can be made out of a variety of themed fabrics, depending on how you plan to use it! For example, make one out of bright tropical prints for a place to store your keys and wallet on the beach; make it with novelty sewing prints to carry those extra supplies to your sew-along or quilt class; or make it out of some darling winter prints to make your gift giving a 2 for 1 surprise!
We used one of the charming blocks from the Wintertale Panel by Katarina Roccella for Art Gallery Fabrics. The whole panel is just adorable with cute and crafty holiday motifs and blocks that can be use to make gift tags, greeting cards, holiday decor and keepsakes, or even this handy little tote.
There are lots of creative options in the panel, but in the end, we chose the Nordic Star Snowflake Block for our tote. We could have used one of the additional blocks, equal in size, for the back of our tote, but we chose to use the sweet nutcracker print.
On the right hand side of the panel, there are strips that can be used for ties on tags, trim on cards, or even handles for our tote. But, we couldn’t resist this bright red star blender, for our handles and accent corners.
For our lining we are going with the fresh minty background tonal called Light it up…
Now that we have the supplies, let’s make a bag!
Please Note: All Seams are 3/8″ (for durability) unless otherwise stated. You’ll need a fabric marker, a few pins, a ruler and a rotary cutter. *RST=Right Sides Together.
Step 1: Choose the block you wish to use for the front of your bag and carefully cut on the lines of the panel. Trim and size the block to 12 1/4″ x 14″.
Step 2: From your accent/handle fabric, Cut 2 – 4″ x 21″ strips and set them aside. Next cut 2 – 3″ squares from the left over. Using a ruler with a diagonal line and an erasable fabric marking pencil, mark one diagonal line, from corner to corner, on the back side of both of the 3″ squares.
Step 3: Line up your 3″ accent squares to the top two corners of your panel block and pin in place, or use fabric glue to secure. Stitch on the line from corner to corner, on each square. Flip the triangle to check for accuracy, before trimming.
Step 4: If you are happy with the position, trim your seam allowance to 1/4″ and press the triangle out and the seam allowance away from the block.
Step 5: Cut 2 – 12 1/4″ x 14″ rectangles of your lining fabric, Cut 1 – 12 1/4″ x 14″ rectangle of your backing coordinate, and 2 – 12 1/4 x 14″ rectangles of fusible batting. If you want a soft, pliable market bag, you don’t have to use batting; if you want a stronger sided bag, that will stand by itself, use a heavy interfacing, instead. You can use non-fusible batting but you will need to do some quilting in order to keep it in place (go with fusible batting, you will thank me later).
Step 6: Apply one piece of fusible batting to the wrong side of the panel block. Apply the other piece of fusible batting to the wrong side of the backing fabric.
Step 7: Place right sides together, the panel block and backing fabric. Line up all the edges. If either of your prints are directional, make sure both pieces are in the proper position. Our panel says Happy Holidays; we do not want that upside down on the bag. Next, sew around 3 sides of your pieces, leaving the top edge open. Don’t forget to take a few back stitches at the start and stop at the top. These seams need to be good and secure. Repeat with your lining fabric pieces.
Step 8: Next we are going to “box” the bottom of the bag. You do not have to do this step if you are not adding batting or interfacing, but it gives your gift bag a flat bottom and makes it look a little more professional. To box the bottom, take your “bag” and open it up, but do not turn it right side out, yet. Bring together your side seams, right sides together, and flatten on the table. Do your best to get the corners of your bag to make these little points (pic). If you make a little crease across the bottom of the bag your two corners will line up on top of each other. Fold away one of the bottom corners so you can lay your ruler across the point of one corner and mark a stitching with your fabric marker. To do this, line up the seam along a straight line on the ruler. Adjust the ruler so the point measures about 1 1/2″ deep. Mark the line and stick a pin in it to hold the fabric in place. Stitch along the line; use a back stitch at the beginning and end of your seam.
Step 9: Repeat with all four corners of the bag; the two on the outside fabric and the two on the lining. Next, carefully take your rotary cutter or a pair of scissors, and trim 1/4″ away from your seam to remove the excess fabric. The bottom of your bags should look like the picture above. Make sure you remove any pins, or these may end up on the inside of your bag, FOREVER! (ask me how I know).
Are you with me so far? GOOD! Let’s make handles.
Step 10: Gather the two accent pieces you set aside earlier and press them flat. Next, fold one in half, lengthwise (wrong sides together), and lightly press. You are creating a center line with your iron. Open it up flat, again, and fold one long raw edge to the center and press, keeping your original fold in place. Repeat with the other side. Repeat the entire step with the other piece, to make two double fold straps.
Step 11: Cut 2 – 1″ x 21 ” fusible batting. Unfold one edge of the double fold straps you created above and carefully insert the batting, fusible side down. Replace the open edge back to the center line, over the top of the batting strip. Fold the entire strip in half, again, lengthwise, and press. Make sure you are keeping your double folded edges lined up, perfectly.
Step 12: Take your straps to the machine and stitch 1/8″ from the double folded edge. Make sure your edges are lined up neatly and you are catching the bottom fold with your seam. When done, press them again, to make sure nothing got twisted or missed and all the wrinkles are out. If you like, you may sew the other side of the handle, as well. It is not necessary but adds a nice detail to the handles.
Step 13: When you are ready to add the handles, grab the outside of your bag and turn it right side out. DO NOT turn your lining right side out; set your lining aside for the moment. Lay your bag flat on the table, as best as you can. Take a ruler and make a mark 2 1/2″ from the side seam along the top edge. Do the same on the other side. Take one strap and lay it so the raw end of the strap lines up with the raw edge of the top of the bag, and the side of the strap is aligned with your 2 1/2″ mark. Use a pin or wonder clip to hold your strap in place. Do the same on the other side with the other end of the strap. Make sure your strap isn’t twisted. Repeat the entire process on the reverse side of the bag. Sew them in place on the top edge with a 1/4″ seam allowance.
Step 14: Gather both the exterior and the lining pieces. The outside of the bag should still be right side out: The lining of the bag should still be inside out. Place the main bag inside the lining. Align the top edge; the right sides of the fabrics should be touching. Align the side seams and pin in place all the way around the top.
Step 15: Now, you are ready to sew all the way around the top edge. However, you need to leave an opening to turn the bag out. Do not leave an opening at your straps, but in between them is a good place. You need about 3″ – 5″ of space. Sew all the way around the top edge with a scant 3/8″ seam allowance. Make sure you use a back stitch at the stop and start; This opening will get pulled on quite a bit when turning, so it needs to be secure.
Step 16: After you have finished sewing around the top (and removed all the pins) turn your bag right side out, through the opening. Tuck the lining inside the bag and make sure the lining is fully turned. Use your fingers to roll and flatten the upper edge including the opening, until it “looks” like it has been sewn together, then press. Top stitch about an 1/8″ of an inch around the top of the bag, making sure your handles are pulled up and out of the way.
We hope you enjoyed making our version of this cute little gift bag as much as we did! If you are interested in a Kit please see our website where we have the entire line of Wintertale by Katarina Roccella for Art Gallery Fabrics. Also, check out all the other wonderful fabrics and kits from The Quilting Bee Virtual Shop Hop, and more!