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Christmas in July with Moda: Drawstring Gift Bags in Dear Mr. Claus

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Get Christmas "in the bag" early this year, but whipping up a few dozen of these quick, easy and very cute drawstring gift bags. We started with prints from Dear Mr. Claus by Cosmo Cricket for Moda Fabrics. The collection reminds us of vintage paper and cards, and so was the perfect choice for this green alternative to gift wrap. Our simple yet clever design results in a beautifully finished bag inside and out – no exposed seams. You can use the bags over and over! And, since we are still sweltering through summer, there's no reason you can't switch out the fabric and ties to make birthday gift bags, Halloween treat bags, even back-to-school lunch bags by substituting a laminated cotton for the lining squares. "Dear Mr Claus, it's only July... I promise to have things all worked out and back on track by December; please keep me on your 'Good' list. Love, S4H."
Our thanks to our friends at Moda Fabrics for sponsoring this year's Christmas in July series. If you haven't already, take a look at our opening article. It gives you some interesting background on the history of glimpsing Santa in the summer, and profiles the latest Moda Christmas collections we love.

Dear Mr. Claus is available now in stores and online. We invite you to shop the wonderful online retailers in our S4H Marketplace; many of them have a great selection of all the colors and patterns in stock and ready to ship! 

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

We used a Layer Cake, which makes things quick and easy. Each bag requires FIVE coordinating Layer Cake squares. If you choose not to use pre-cuts, you'll need to cut five pieces that measure 10" x 10" for each bag: we used a Dear Mr Claus Layer Cake by Cosmo Cricket for Moda Fabrics in the following prints:

Bag One

  • Front: Green on Red Fa La La La La
  • Back: Red on Eggnog Merry Christmas
  • Lining: Green on Eggnog Let it Snow
  • Accent Band: Red Candy Cane Stripe

Bag Two

  • Front: Eggnog Trim-Trim-er-ee
  • Back: Green on Eggnog Merry Christmas
  • Lining: Eggnog Parson Brown
  • Accent Band: Christmas Tree Green Candy Cane Stripe

Bag Three

  • Front: Red on Eggnog Parson Brown
  • Back: Santa Red on Eggnog Fa La La La La
  • Lining: Santa Red on Eggnog Let it Snow
  • Accent Band: Red Candy Cane Stripe

Bag Four

  • Front: Red Trim-Trim-er-ee
  • Back: Green on Eggnog Fa La La La La
  • Lining: Christmas Tree Green Let it Snow
  • Accent Band: Christmas Tree Green Candy Cane Stripe

Other supplies (shown in amounts for ONE bag)

  • ¾ yard of 20" medium weight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon 950F Shir-Tailor®
  • 1 yard of ½" wide twill tape
    NOTE: The twill tape was a perfect match for our vintage Dear Mr. Claus fabric, you could also use ribbon or cording.
  • All purpose thread to match fabrics
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil 
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Tape measure
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

The instructions below are the steps to create ONE bag.

  1. Collect or cut FIVE 10" x 10" coordinating squares.
  2. From the fusible interfacing, cut FOUR 10" x 10" squares
  3. Cut the twill tape in half into two 18" lengths.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse one piece of interfacing to the wrong side of the two exterior fabric squares and the two interior fabric squares. The accent band does not get interfacing. 
  2. Pin the front and back exterior pieces right sides together along both SIDES. Because you are working with squares, you need to be careful you are pinning along the sides – not the top and bottom. Double check before you stitch. 
  3. Stitch both sides, using a ¼" seam allowance. 
  4. Repeat to pin and stitch the two lining pieces together.

Box the bottom corners of the exterior and the interior

  1. Draw a 1¼" square in each bottom corner of both the exterior and the interior sewn panels.
  2. Cut out the corners along the drawn lines.
  3. Pin the bottom of the bag exterior. Stitch across the bottom of the bag, using a ¼" seam allowance. 
  4. Repeat for the bag interior. 
  5. Press open all the seams. 
  6. Using both hands, pinch and pull apart one bottom corner of the bag exterior. Precisely match the two seams front to back. Pin in place.
  7. Stitch across the corner, using a ¼" seam allowance. It's a good idea to double or triple stitch the seam for extra strength. 
  8. Repeat for the opposite corner.  
  9. Repeat for the bag interior. 
  10. Turn the bag exterior right side out. Keep the bag interior wrong side out. 
  11. Slip the bag interior inside the bag exterior, so the two are now wrong sides together. Align all the seams and the bottom corners. 
  12. Set aside.

Top accent band

  1. Find the remaining 10" x 10" square for the top accent band. 
  2. Cut the square in half to create two 5" x 10" rectangles.
  3. Fold and press both pieces in half (2½" x 10"), wrong sides together, to set a center crease. 
  4. Unfold one piece wrong side up. Place it horizontally on your work surface. 
  5. On each 5" side, along the top half, measure and mark 1" from the top raw edge. From that mark, measure an additional ¾" and make a second mark. The space between the two marks will become the channel for the drawstring. 
  6. Along the bottom 10" edge, fold up the raw edge ¼" and press.
  7. Follow these same steps on the second accent band piece.
  8. Place the two accent band pieces right sides together and pin along both 5" sides. Match the channel marks. Unfold the ends of the bottom folded edges so the side seams are flat from top to bottom.
  9. Using a ¼" seam allowance, stitch both sides, leaving the space between the two marks open along both sides. Lock your seam at both sides of the opening. Press the seams open and flat. 
  10. If necessary, re-thread your machine with thread to best match the accent band in the top and bobbin. 
  11. Topstitch the seam allowance in place around the channel opening. You are essentially stitching a keyhole around the opening to catch and secure the seam allowance. 
    NOTE: If you have a free arm on your machine, this is a great time to use it. Simply slip the accent band over the free arm to more easily stitch around the opening. 
  12. Find the bag (with the lining in place inside). 
  13. Slide the accent band over the top of the bag so the band and bag are right sides together and the raw edges are aligned. Line up the seams and pin all around the top. 
  14. Using a ¼" seam allowance stitch the accent band to the bag. Again, this is a great time to use your free arm if you have one.
  15. Pull the accent band up. Refold the band along its original center crease. This will bring the band to the inside of the bag and the ¼" folded edge will cover the bag/band seam you just made. Pin this edge in place all the way around.
  16. Transfer your pins to the right side of the bag. 
  17. Topstitch the accent band in place all the way around, staying as close as possible to the seam line. This will catch the inside folded edge. 

Drawstring channel

  1. Stitch ⅝" from the top fold of the accent band all the way around to form the top of the drawstring channel.
  2. Stitch a second seam ¾" from the first seam, all the way around, to form the bottom of the drawstring channel.

    NOTE: These stitching lines are just above and just below the side seam openings.
  3. Attach a safety pin to one end of each length of twill tape. Thread one length through the front channel and the second length through the back channel. 


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



Comments (7)

Hilary said:
Hilary's picture

My daughter has asked me to make her some 'shoe' bags to use when packing for holidays, which I thought was a good idea.  This is a great way to use up leftover layer cake squares and they make such useful bags for any time of year.  I will be on with these tonight!

kathy seymour said:
kathy seymour's picture

I am loving this idea so much, why wait for Christmas. What a great way to give a gift and a bag that can be utilized in so many ways. 

SKWestDesigns said:
SKWestDesigns's picture

This is a great twist on the normal drawstring bags.  Great holiday project.

Karen Roberts said:
Karen Roberts's picture

Love! Love! Love! My daughter and I planning on making bags to replace all of the wrapping paper we use for Christmas and birthdays. We are always looking for more ways to reduce waste and it's a great project for us to do together. She is a beginning sewer so this is perfect!

gloria3133 said:
gloria3133's picture

I'm making this for the charity group gifting where we fill the sack for the veterans child.  They get the gift at t christmas party.  So this will make two gifts, the bag and the inside gift.  I was thinking maybe that cute rabbit, or cat as a gift inside.