Simple Drawstring Gift Bag, and Sewing Encouragement

Tom was raised in a little tiny town called Sackville, in the eastern maritime province of New Brunswick, Canada, where his father taught English at a small liberal arts college.  His mother frequented a shop there called “The Craft Gallery,” that featured local, handmade goods.  She’s given me several gifts from the shop over the years, and I’ve noticed that everything sold there, however large or small, comes wrapped in a simple cloth drawstring bag.

I love the little rubber-stamped labels.

They aren’t fancy.  The turned-in top edges are finished with pinking shears,  and the drawstrings are just bits of yarn.  The fabric is always from some quilter’s scrap pile, and often the bags are made of two or more colors of cloth.  So simple, but so delightful!  I treasure them, and use them for all manner of things.

With these as my inspiration, I’ve been making cloth bags for gift wrap.  If you have a sewing machine set up, then it truly doesn’t take any longer than wrapping a gift with paper, they can be used again and again, and they’re super-darn cute.  It’s fun to wonder what the recipient will do with the bag–wrap someone else’s gift, stow doll clothes, keep freshly-baked bread?

Here are two I made this afternoon for a child’s party we’re attending tomorrow.  Strictly scrap bag affairs.  Any dig through the fabric scraps is a sentimental  journey:  the larger bag is tied with ricrac leftover  from a dress I made for Claire when she was three, and the gingham is from some long-ago kitchen curtain that didn’t turn out as I’d hoped.


Pinked edges are quick and entirely functional for a little project like this.
Pinked edges are quick and entirely functional for a little project like this.

Drawstring bags make an excellent first machine-sewing project for kids (or adults for that matter!).  If you don’t know how to make a drawstring bag, find directions here.  But remember–if you are in the mood to just whip a few bags together, you don’t even have to turn the top under twice.  These bags are for light use, and pinking the edges works perfectly well.  (Of course, it is nicer to iron the edges under, and only takes one more minute, but we do have options!)

We so often think of sewing as a big production.  We have to “get set up,” plan a project, shop for matching thread, and find other ways to make it into an ordeal that can be put off.   I’m trying to remember that sewing can happen in a a few minutes, with a pile of scraps and bit of white thread.  Enjoy!


  1. I’m famous for never changing my bobbin thread, which works fine since most of my sewing is strictly utilitarian. Your bags are beautiful, and so much nicer than garbage-bound giftwrap!

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