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Citrus Holiday: Reversible Gift & Wine Bags

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We all know how it goes. In the fall, we make a resolution to give only handmade gifts for the holiday season. Then, December rolls around, and you don't have the tree up, you have a full queue of holiday parties to attend, and the kids are begging to make cookies all weekend. That's where our handmade Gift & Wine Bags come in. They're quick to sew, and can at least add a homemade touch to those last-minute purchased presents. Plus, they're re-usable,which means they're a green alternative to wrapping paper.

The main instructions below are for a generously sized gift bag. Finished, it measures approximately 13" wide x 11" high (it is narrower at the bottom than the top because of the gusset). You can adjust your measurements to reduce or increase the size to best fit your gift(s).

Our bag is designed to have a defined inside and outside, and the drawstring comes out through buttonholes along the top of the outside of the bag. This makes the bag very easy to construct. But does it make the bag truly reversible as the name implies? The Grand Gift Bag Judge might say no, because the buttonholes are only on one side. But we took it all the way to the Gift Bag Supreme Court, and the consensus was: because all the seams are hidden and the drawstring is at the very top, the bag could indeed be considered fully reversible. Compare the photos above and below; we think you'll agree the bag looks dandy inside and out.

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Our Citrus Holiday projects were made using Heather Bailey's delightful Pop Garden & Bijoux Collection. To learn more about how we created this non-traditional holiday palette, read our article: Citrus Holiday: A Lighthearted Living Room.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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  • 1 yard main fabric for bag: we used Heather Bailey's Pop Garden & Bijoux Paisley in Lime
  • 1 yard coordinating fabric for liner: we used Heather Bailey's Pop Garden & Bijoux Swirly Buds in Tangerine
  • 45" length of ¼" silky cording in matching color to print for bag draw-cord
  • All-purpose thread in colors to match fabrics
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

  1. Cut a rectangle 14" x 29" from both the main fabric and the liner fabric.
    NOTE: one yard will yield three 14" x 29" cuts, so you could make three bags from the two yards of fabric recommended above. If you are only making one bag, you could get away with just ½ yard. However, your fabric's design would have to able to accommodate a horizontal cut.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Sew the sides of the bag

  1. Fold the piece of fabric for the main bag in half with RIGHT sides together along the 29" side.
  2. Using a ½" seam allowance, sew up the right and left sides of the fabric. Press both seams open.
  3. Repeat steps 1-2 with the liner fabric.

Create the gusset

  1. Press the main bag piece, so the bottom fold is very sharp.
  2. Open bag and fold in the opposite direction, matching the side seams. The bottom of the bag will naturally fold in on itself, creating two matching triangles. Very carefully align the side folds and the top points to make sure your gusset will be exactly even.
  3. Measure 2" down from the top tip of the triangle and use your fabric pencil to draw a line straight across the folded fabric.
  4. Repeat on the opposite side. Check to make sure your two drawn lines are at the exact same place on both sides.
  5. Unfold and stitch across along on the drawn line on each side.
  6. Trim the top of each triangle 1/2" from the sewn line.
  7. Repeat steps 1-6 to create the gusset in the liner fabric.

Stitch the buttonholes

  1. Turn the main bag piece right side out. Fold the bag in half along the raw edge to find the center of one side of the bag. Mark a center line with the fabric pencil.
  2. Measure 3/8" to either side of the center line. Mark these lines with the fabric pencil.
  3. Measure 1¾" from the top raw edge of the bag. The intersection of these two measurements designates the location of the TOP of the buttonhole.
  4. Using the fabric marking pencil, sketch two 5/8" buttonholes on the fabric to use as guides when you are stitching your buttonholes.
  5. Stitch buttonholes in place. If your machine is capable of producing an automatic buttonhole, you can use a 3/8" - ½" button with the buttonhole foot for creating the buttonhole. For additional tips on creating buttonholes, check out our article How to Make a Buttonhole.

Finish the bag

  1. Finish the raw edge of both the main bag and the liner bag with pinking shears or a zig zag stitch.
  2. With the right side facing out on the main bag, turn in raw edge 1½" all around the top. Press in place.
  3. Turn the liner bag inside out, and with the wrong side facing out, turn out raw edge 1½" all around the top. Press in place.
  4. Place the liner bag inside the main bag, wrong sides together.
  5. Line up the top edges and side seams of the two bag pieces, and pin in place.
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  6. Topstitch around the top edge of the bag, stitching 1/8" from the folds.
  7. Topstitch ¾" down from this line of stitching, to create the drawstring channel. The buttonholes you created will just fit within the two parallel lines of stitching
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  8. Put a safety pin through one end of the cording you're using as the drawstring. This will allow for easier feeding of the drawstring.
  9. Insert the safety pin end of the drawstring through one of the buttonholes, feed it around the bag, and out through the second buttonhole.
  10. Take the safety pin out of cording, and use a match to carefully melt the ends of the cording to prevent raveling.
  11. Tie a knot about 1" from each end of the cording.
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    Hints and Tips

    Alterations for wine bag

    1. Cut the fabric pieces for the main bag (Pop Garden Daisy in Green in our sample) and the liner (Mod Bead in Canary in our sample) at 17" x 17".
    2. Fold the bag pieces along the 17" side, and then sew along one 8½" side, and up the long (17") side. Press seams open and press a crease in the folded 17" side.
    3. Open the bag and match the long seam with the long crease. As described above, the bottom of the bag will naturally fold in on itself, creating two matching triangles. Very carefully align the side folds and the top points to make sure your gusset will be exactly even.
    4. Follow the remaining steps from above to complete your wine bag.
    5. The 17" x 17" dimension will yield a wine bag that measures approximately 8½" wide x 13" tall, and can completely cover a standard bottle of wine. If you prefer to have the neck of your wine bottle showing (as in our photo), reduce the cut length from 17" to 15".

    Substitute ribbon for cording

    You may choose to use ribbon in place of the cording for this project. If you do, just make sure the buttonholes can accommodate the ribbon (make the buttonhole about ¼" larger than the width of the ribbon) and cut the ends of the ribbon at an angle or hem to prevent raveling.

    Project Design: Alicia Thommas
    Sample Creation: Aimee McGaffey
    Instructional Editing: Alison Newman



    Comments (7)

    Jeanette Edwards said:
    Jeanette Edwards's picture

    I looked in most places to find out how to make this beautiful drawstring bag. Thank you. I can't wait to try it.

    alicia.thommas said:
    Hi KelliLee, Wow! What a fantastic birthday party. Your bags turned out great. Thanks for sharing!
    KelliLee said:
    KelliLee's picture
    I made these reversible bags as my treat/favor bags for my son's Cars themed birthday party. They were really pretty easy and everyone loved them. I'll make them again (and probably for every birthday party I ever throw for my kids because it's always nice to give a bag they can use again and again!). See my finished product here:
    pae angsirun said:
    pae angsirun's picture
    Thanks so much for this project. I like to make many things by myself,when I saw your pattern I thought I"ll do it with myself. Thank you.
    Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
    Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture
    Hi Coffeebean -- thanks so much for the compliments. We are so glad this project was a success for you. Janome is indeed one of our major sponsors, but we are actually a separate company... but you should still love your Janome machine to death!smilies/cheesy.gif
    Coffeebean said:
    Coffeebean's picture
    Thanks so much for this tutorial! Made a drawstring "wetbag" and it came out really nice. Love this style, no raw edges of fabric showing and the buttonholes make this bag really durable. Very clever idea too.
    Love this site, didn't know Janome had this type of site, one more reason to love my Janome machine even more smilies/smiley.gif
    Thanks again!
    - Coffeebean