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We all know good things don’t always come in small packages. They can be small, medium or large… and still be quite wonderful. That’s why we made our super cute gift bags in three sizes. It also allows you to sort out your holiday list into those who’ve been Good, Very Good, and Great. Our elegant gift bags are a great way to use up your larger fabric scraps. The exterior and lining of each bag are both made up of two fabrics, which gives them a beautiful finish inside and out. 

We added glittery rick rack on some of our bags for a dash of extra holiday sparkle, and a simple solid rick rack on others. You could substitute other trims, such as piping, pom poms or even wide ribbon to give your bags a different seasonal appeal or to coordinate with the colors of a special event, such as a wedding or graduation.

Thin ribbon is secured in the bag’s top seam at the front and back. This gives you flexibility for the size of the goodies inside. Giving something small? Cinch the top all the way closed. Have a bigger gift? Tie a looser bow.

For the best look, carefully fussy cut the exterior panels to center a pretty motif. If you’re new to this technique, check out our full tutorial.

The bags are all designed with just one side seam This means the front and back of the bag as well as one side are completely smooth and “seam free.” This makes it a perfect flat palette for a pretty fussy cut.

We used a mid-weight fusible interfacing on the exterior panels to give our bags their sharp shape, cutting it the same size as the fabric pieces. If you want your seam allowances to be more manageable, you can take the time to cut each of the interfacing pieces ½” smaller all around and, before fusing in place, carefully center the interfacing piece on its appropriate fabric piece so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all four sides. Even the handle is well-interfaced, allowing it to stand up on its own. The lining does not require interfacing.

Another stability trick is to use a heavier weight fabric on the bag bottom and a quilting weight on the top. This is optional, but does give the bottom of the bag a bit more heft to more easily handle heavier items.

Although this is indeed a great project for scraps, it’s also a fun way to buy just small cuts from your favorite holiday collections.

Make one or make them all. They’re fast and easy and you’ll end up with a trio of terrific totes to hold all your treats and treasures.

Finished sizes are given below for each bag.

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

Click to Enlarge

NOTE: Quantities shown are for EACH bag.

  • Scraps or ¼ – ¾ yard cuts of 44-45″ wide fabric
    NOTE: Exactly how much you need will depend on which bag(s) you choose to make as well as the size and direction of the motif on the fabric you use. Check out the Getting Started section below for the exact cuts needed for each bag.
  • ½ yard of 24″+ wide mid-weight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon Décor Bond
  • One package of jumbo rick rack; you need 16″ – 24″
  • ¾ yard of ⅛” ribbon
  • All purpose thread in colors to match fabrics
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Straight pins

Getting Started

Small Bag, which finishes at 5″ wide x 7″ high x 2″ deep

  1. From the fabric for the top, cut TWO 15″ wide x 4″ high rectangles.
  2. From the fabric for the bottom, cut the following:
    TWO 15″ wide x 6″ high rectangles
    ONE 10″ x 3″ strip for the handle.
  3. From the fusible interfacing, cut the following:
    ONE 15″ x 4″ rectangle
    ONE 15″ x 6″ rectangle
    ONE 10″ x 3″ strip
  4. Cut the jumbo rick rack into ONE 16″ length.
  5. Cut the ribbon into TWO 11″ lengths.

Medium Bag, which finishes at 6″ wide x 8″ high x 2″ deep

  1. From the fabric for the top, cut TWO 17″ wide x 4½” high rectangles.
  2. From the fabric for the bottom, cut the following:
    TWO 17″ wide x 7½” high rectangles
    ONE 12″ x 3″ strip for the handle.
  3. From the fusible interfacing, cut the following:
    ONE 17″ x 4½” rectangle
    ONE 17″ x 7½” rectangle
    ONE 12″ x 3″ strip
  4. Cut the jumbo rick rack into ONE 18″ length.
  5. Cut the ribbon into TWO 11″ lengths.

Large Bag, which finishes at 8″ wide x 10″ high x 3″ deep

  1. From the fabric for the top, cut TWO 23″ wide x 5½” high rectangles.
  2. From the fabric for the bottom, cut the following:
    TWO 23″ wide x 8″ high rectangles
    ONE 16″ x 3″ strip for the handle.
  3. From the fusible interfacing, cut the following:
    ONE 23″ x 5½” rectangle
    ONE 23″ x 8″ rectangle
    ONE 16″ x 3″ strip
  4. Cut the jumbo rick rack into ONE 24″ length.
  5. Cut the ribbon into TWO 11″ lengths.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

NOTE: Our sample steps show the creation of the medium bag. The steps are the same for the small bag as well as for the large bag. The only difference is the depth of the large bag, which finishes as 3″ instead of 2″, requiring a slightly larger boxed bottom. This difference is noted below.

  1. Press all your fabric pieces so they are nice and flat.
  2. Find one top exterior fabric panel and one bottom exterior fabric panel as well as both matching interfacing pieces.
  3. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of each piece. The photo below shows all four of the main pieces — the two non-fused lining pieces and the two exterior pieces with the interfacing fused in place. Remember, as mentioned above, you can choose to cut your interfacing panels ½” smaller all around to keep it out of the seam allowance. Simply center the interfacing on the fabric panel prior to fusing.
    Click to Enlarge
  4. Place the length of rick rack along the top edge of the bottom panel (you have a ‘top’ if you are working with a fabric that has a directional print; if you aren’t, simply choose one long edge as the top)
  5. The center of the rick rack should sit ½” down from the top raw edge of the fabric panel.
    Click to Enlarge
  6. Pin in place.
    Click to Enlarge
  7. Machine baste in place approximately ⅜” from the top raw edge. You just need to catch the top of the trim. The basting simply holds the trim in place until you sew the panels together
    Click to Enlarge
  8. Place the two fused panels right sides together to create a horizontal seam, sandwiching the rick rack in between the layers. Remember, you should be aligning the top of the bottom panel with the bottom of the top panel. Pin in place.
    Click to Enlarge
  9. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch together.
  10. Open up the sewn panels, pressing the seam allowance up and the rick rack down.
    Click to Enlarge
  11. Fold the assembled exterior panel in half, aligning the raw edges and being particularly careful to match up the horizontal seam and the rick rack.
    Click to Enlarge
  12. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch together down the side and across the bottom, pivoting at the corner.

Box the bottom corners

  1. With the exterior bag still wrong side out, the next step is to box the bottom corners. Remember you have just one side seam; don’t let that throw you. Start with this side to make your first box corner.
  2. Using both hands, pinch and pull apart one bottom corner.
  3. As you pull, the fabric will begin to make a little peak with the corner point at the top with the seam line running down the middle of both sides. Precisely match the seams front to back.
  4. Repeat for the opposite corner. There is no side seam on this side, but there will be a bit of a visible crease, so use this to align with the bottom seam.
  5. Our bag is sized for 2″ sides and base. To create this width, you need to figure your boxed corner seam at half that finished width. Therefore, in our sample, we measured 1″ from the tip of each corner peak. This is the same measurement to use for the Small bag. For the Large bag, the sides and base are 3″, so measure at 1½”.
  6. Pin your folded and measured ‘peaks’ and draw a horizontal line at the 1″ (or 1½”) measurement on each side.
    Click to Enlarge
  7. Stitch along the drawn lines. Remember, your seams should be perfectly lined up. Stitch back and forth along the line two or three times to reinforce.
  8. Trim away the peak on each side to about ¼” from the seam line.
    Click to Enlarge
  9. Turn right side out and push out the corners to form the box. For more details and photos, take a look at our full step-by-step tutorial on How to Box Bottom Corners.
    Click to Enlarge
  10. Repeat all the above steps with the remaining top and bottom lining panels, but without applying the interfacing or the rick rack.
  11. For sharper sides, press the side edges of both the exterior bag and the lining. In other words, with the bag right side out, fold in each side as if folding a paper lunch sack – 1″ to either side of the seam/side crease (1½” from the seam/crease in the case of the Large bag). Press while folded.
    Click to Enlarge

Make the handle

  1. Find the 3″ strip and fold it in half lengthwise. Press well to set a crease.
  2. Unfold the strip wrong side facing up and align the interfacing strip along the center crease line.
  3. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the strip in place.
    Click to Enlarge
  4. Re-fold the handle in half right sides together.
  5. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch the long side. Leave both ends open.
  6. Trim the seam allowance back to ¼”.
  7. Turn the handle right side out through the open ends.
  8. Roll the seam so it is at the back and the top of the handle is smooth. Press flat.
    Click to Enlarge
  9. If you are having trouble turning the handle with the stiff interfacing, another option is to evenly interface the entire handle strip. Press under the raw edges ½” on each long side, and fold in half, matching the folded edges. To complete the handle, simply edgestitch along each long side rather than rolling the seam to the back. No turning is necessary.
  10. Set aside the completed handle.

Finish the bag

  1. With the exterior bag right side out and the lining bag wrong side out, turn down the top raw edge of both ¾” and press well.
  2. Pin this folded edge in place all around the top of both bags.
    Click to Enlarge
  3. Slip the lining inside the exterior so the two bags are wrong sides together. Push the lining all the way down to the bottom and make sure it spreads out at the bottom corner to corner.
  4. Match up the side seams of both bags. The top folded edges of the bag and the lining should be flush with one another as well. If they aren’t, roll one or both folds as needed so they perfectly match.
  5. Re-pin the lining to the bag along the top folded edges all the way around the opening of the bag.
    Click to Enlarge
  6. Slip one end of handle in place in between the exterior and the lining. Align the handle’s seam with the side seam of the bag. Insert the end of the handle approximately ¾” – 1″. The seam of the handle should be facing in. Pin in place.
    Click to Enlarge
  7. Slip the other end of the handle into place directly opposite and pin in place.
  8. Find the two 11″ lengths of ribbon. Slip one in between the two bag layers at the center front and one at the center back. Pin in place.
    Click to Enlarge
  9. If your machine has a free arm, now is a great time to use it.
  10. Topstitch all around the top of the bag, through all the layers. First stitch approximately ¼” from the top folded edges. With all topstitching and edgestitching, a slightly lengthened stitch is a nice look.
    Click to Enlarge
  11. Then, as an option, stitch around again approximately ⅛” from the folded edges. This second round of topstitching is a good way to insure the ends of the handle and the two ribbon ties are well secured.
    Click to Enlarge


Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Liz Johnson

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