Here’s a fast and fabulous Valentine’s gift idea everyone will love, because it includes both adorable fabric and yummy candy. We created a cellophane bag topper from Charm Pack squares, stitched on a personalized message of love, and sealed it with a secret quick-release basting stitch. When it’s finished its job as a bag topper, it can serve as a cute coaster or beautiful bookmark.
Thanks to our friends at Moda Fabrics for providing us with their Hoopla pre-cuts for all our Valentines projects. Though not a traditional ‘hearts & flowers’ motif, we love the bright and happy colors and playful patterns.
If you are new to decorative stitching, check out our tutorials: Decorative Stitches: Part Deux.
Sewing Tools You Need
- Any Sewing Machine (we recommend the Janome Magnolia 7318)
Fabric and Other Supplies
Supplies for ONE Treat Bag Topper
- TWO Charm Park Squares or 5″ x 5″ scraps of your favorite fabric: we used Charm Pack Squares from the Hoopla Collection by Moda
- Paper and pens (or your computer) to make bag tags
- ONE cellophane treat bag (width should be less than 5″)
- Thread to contrast with and accent your fabric: we used Coats & Clark Dual Duty XP in Red
- Straight pins
- Double stick tape or glue dots
- Select a pair of Charm Pack Squares for each bag topper or cut two 5″ x 5″ squares for each bag tapper.
- Create your personalized bag tag greetings. We found that a 1½” high x 3″ wide rectangle was a good proportion for this project. You can simply draw a rectangle of this size on a piece of paper, color in your greeting and/or picture, and cut it out. We created our little designs on the computer and then printed them out on a color printer. No special paper is needed; we used standard weight copier paper.
NOTE: If you are working with your kids on this project (it’s a great one for kids), having them write and color within pre-drawn 1½” x 3″ rectangles is fun for them and the resulting one-of-a-kind artwork is precious.
At Your Sewing Machine
- Place your Charm Park Squares or 5″ x 5″ fabric squares WRONG sides together.
NOTE: I’ve found that pre-cuts are not always exactly the same size from piece to piece. If you use Charm Pack Squares, align the raw edges carefully all around. Trim as needed so all the edges are flush.
- Stitch the two layers together around all four sides, pivoting at the corners. Your line of stitching should be approximately 1/8″ from the raw edges.
- Place a small piece of double stick tape or a glue dot on the back of the tag.
- Place the tag on the fabric square so it is centered side to side and ¼”- 3/8″ from the BOTTOM edge on the FRONT side.
- Finger press to adhere the tag to the fabric.
- Set up your machine for a decorative stitch and stitch the tag in place around all four sides, pivoting at the corners.
NOTE: You want a stitch that isn’t super dense; too many needle penetrations will cause your paper to start to shred. I adjusted my stitches so they were closer together and narrower than their default settings. You will need to play around with your own machine’s stitches to see what options you have and how much adjustment you can do. If you don’t have decorative stitches on your machine, not to worry, a zig zag stitch or even a long straight stitch would work as well.
- Remember, this is just a little Valentine’s giftee… don’t stress out too much about turning the corners with a decorative stitch. It doesn’t have to be perfect. I simply stitched to the corner, stopped with the needle in the down position, pivoted, then brought my needle to the up position and ever-so-slightly adjusted my fabric under the foot so the edge of the paper was against the same guide line on the foot (the same guide line I’d used to sew the previous side). I then turned the handwheel to drop the needle back into the fabric and continued my stitching.
NOTE: Do NOT back stitch when using a decorative stitch. I don’t even like to use the lock stitch. I think it looks neater to hand tie my thread tails into a double or triple knot then clip the tails close to the knot.
- Fill your bags with candy, leaving about 3″ of the bag free.
- Lay the prepared fabric square wrong side up and place the open end of the cellophane bag opposite the bag tag. The top of the bag should be at the centerline of the square (about 2½” from the raw edge) and the bag itself should be centered side to side. You can fold the fabric over the top of the bag to test your placement. Put in a pin or two to hold the cellophane layers in place.
- Set up your machine for a machine basting stitch. Set the stitch length to its maximum.
- Stitch across the bag along the edge of the fabric. I was about ½ – ¾” from the fabric’s raw edges, which was about 2″ from the top of the cellophane bag.
- Do NOT back tack or lock your stitches at either end of the basting stitch.
- Leave the thread tails long at the beginning and end of the basting stitch line.
- Fold the fabric over to the front and you’re done! For me, the two layers of fabric, paper and decorative stitching provided enough weight to hold the front flap of the bag topper in place. If you’d like a little extra security, you could seal the fabric to the cellophane with a small piece of double stick tape or a glue dot.
Opening up the bag
When your happy Valentine’s gift recipient is ready to open up his/her treat bag, simply follow these easy steps:
- Lift up the front flap of the fabric, breaking the tape or glue dot seal if you used one.
- Grab on to ONE thread tail from your basting stitch, and gently but firmly pull the thread free. The bag and fabric will kind of start to gather, simply smooth those gathers with your opposite hand and continue pulling.
- Once the thread is free, the topper will release and the bag can be opened.
Give the Bag Topper a new life
Once the candy is gone, it seems like a shame to throw away the cute fabric Valentine. Instead, turn the flat square into a coaster…
or fold it in half for a bookmark.
Project Concept and Sample Creation: Liz Johnson
Other machines suitable for this project include the Kenmore #19112 and the Brother BC-1000.