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Back when I was attending parties in patent leather mary janes and hair bows, party favors were low-key and unassuming. If you were really lucky, you might score a candy bracelet you could eat right off your wrist. These days, things have amped up to a whole new level, with fancy favors becoming standard for birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, and more. I’ll admit to getting a party favor almost nicer than the gift I’d brought to the event! Maybe it’s time to step back to something basic yet beautiful, starting with these pretty favor bags in soft linen accented with gorgeous Renaissance Ribbons. Clean and simple, but with a personal touch and a fundamental elegance. What goes inside is up to you!

These bags are very easy to make and are actually designed for “assembly line” construction. Simply cut the base fabric into long strips, cut the ribbon into matching lengths, then stitch the ribbon down the center of the entire fabric strip. When the ribbon is secured, sub-cut the strip into sections, seam, and finish with a drawstring channel to cinch the bag closed.

A beautiful Laura Foster Jacquard ribbon in multiple colorways was our original choice for this project. However, any ⅞” ribbon would work well, and Renaissance Ribbons has such a lovely selection – from whimsical puppies to gorgeous florals to dramatic geometrics. It’s easy to shop directly from Renaissance Ribbons online.

Our bags are approximately 4½” wide x 5¾” high, but you can easily adjust the dimensions to best fit your favors.

We show our bags as wedding favors, perfectly sized for a handmade bar of soap with a personalized thank-you tag tied at the top.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

NOTE: As mentioned above, we originally used FOUR beautiful Jacquard ribbons by Laura Foster from Renaissance Ribbons. The amount of ribbon you need depends on how many bags you are making and their exact size. Each of our bags used 13″ of ribbon. Supplies listed below are for ONE 4½” wide x 5¾” high bag; multiply as needed for your final bag count.

  • ¼ yard or 1 fat quarter of standard cotton or linen fabric
  • ½ yard of ribbon
  • 1 yard of lightweight jute twine or similar for the drawstrings
  • All-purpose thread to match fabric
  • All purpose thread to match ribbons and/or Invisible Thread in Clear; we used invisible thread
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Pinking shears (optional)
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins
  • Safety pin

Getting Started

  1. From the fabric, cut ONE 5½” x 13″ rectangle.
  2. From the ribbon, cut ONE 13″ length.
  3. From the jute, cut TWO 18″ lengths.
    NOTE: As mentioned above, for “assembly line” construction, cut your fabric into width-of-fabric (WOF) strips: 5½” x WOF (our linen was 54″). Then, cut your ribbon into matching lengths (54″ in our sample). If you know, based on the size of your bag, that you’ll end up with a bit of waste at the end of your fabric strip, you can cut your ribbon short. For example, we could cut four 13″ lengths from our 54″ strip with 2″ left over. So, we could cut our ribbon lengths to 52″ rather than 54″.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Place the fabric rectangle right side up on your work surface.
  2. Use your see-through ruler to measure and find the exact center of the fabric rectangle. For our sample, this was 2¾” in from each outside edge.
  3. Draw a line down the center of the rectangle.
  4. Place the ribbon on the fabric, centering it over the drawn line. Pin the ribbon in place.

    NOTE: Another option would be to apply a little basting glue or strips of lightweight fusible web, such as Stitch Witchery by Dritz® to the wrong side of the ribbon. Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions and test to make sure the ribbon can be easily stitched without the adhesive gumming up the needle. Some adhesives are not meant to be sewn through.
  5. Edgestitch ribbon on to the fabric, using matching all-purpose thread or invisible thread. We used invisible thread for all our samples. Stitch both sides of the ribbon in the same direction to lessen the chance for shifting or puckering.

    NOTE: If using “assembly line” construction, once the ribbon is stitched in place, sub-cut the fabric rectangle into bag-size lengths. For our sample, this meant 13″ lengths. 
  6. Fold the fabric rectangle in half right sides together (for our sample, that meant it was now 5½” wide x 6½” high).
  7. From the top raw edges, measure 2″ down along each side. Place a pin at this point on both sides.
  8. Continue pining from the 2″ mark to the bottom fold.
  9. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch both sides, starting at the 2″ mark and continuing down to the bottom fold.
  10. Using your pinking shears, trim both side seam allowances to ¼”, from the bottom fold all the way up to the top.

    NOTE: Keeping with our fast and easy construction methods, we chose to simply pink the seam allowances to finish them. If you’d like to use another method, you certainly can. We have a four-part series on machine sewn seam finishes.
  11. Press open the seam allowance, again continuing all the way from the bottom to the top. Press evenly so the unsewn 2″ at the top is flush with the sewn seam.
  12. If necessary, re-thread the machine with thread to match the fabric in the top and bobbin.
  13. You can either simply leave the top 2″ well pressed or you can edgestitch the folds in place. We opted to edgestitch, but it really is optional. The benefit to stitching is there is no chance the tiny raw edge will be pulled out with the drawstring. However, it you are making lots and lots of bags, this is an extra, time-consuming step. For most fabrics, a well-pressed edge should be fine.
  14. Fold down top raw edge ¼”, across both the front segment and the back segment.
  15. Again, you can simply fold down and press, lightly pinning to secure. Or, you can edgestitch the fold in place. We chose to edgestitch.
  16. With the bag still wrong side out, fold down the top segment (both the front and back) an additional ½”, measuring from the folded edge, and pin in place. This creates the front and back drawstring casings.
  17. Topstitch each casing in place, running your seam close to the inside folded edge.
  18. Turn the bag right side out.
  19. Using a long, blunt-end tool, such as a knitting needle or chopstick, gentle push out the bottom corners and press the bag flat.
  20. Find the two lengths of jute. Tie a small knot in one end of each length.
  21. Attach the safety pin through the knot on one length and feed the jute through the front casing.
  22. Repeat to thread the remaining length through the back casing.
  23. Drop in your favor. Pull the two pairs of jute string at each side to cinch the top closed. If desired, slip a personalized tag onto one length of jute.
  24. At both sides, knot the two lengths together to secure the top gathers and the tag.
  25. Make a second knot towards the bottom of each pair of jute strings. The length can be as short or as long as you’d like. Our “tails” were about 3″ from the top knot to the bottom knot. Pull the knots tight to secure, then snip off the remaining jute just below the bottom knot.


Project Concept: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild

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2 years ago

I have made any bags just like these. They are lovely party favors and a great way to use up small amounts of fabric in your stash! The real.shock was how much cord/string they use, at 1 yd per bag for these little ones. The cost for that can exceed the rest of the materials! For step 13, a couple of other opt I’ll on would be some spray starch for a well-dressed edge or some fabric adhesive to keep that raw edge in without having to stitch it. Make sure you don’t use too much and soak through to… Read more »

Liz Johnson
Liz Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Gen

Thanks for your input, Gen. Yeah – besides wanting more of a “rustic” look, using jute for our drawstring was super cost effective. The ruffle edge – yes, we’ve done that on a number of other bags – it is cute.

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