How to Make Reusable Cloth Gift Bags |

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How to Make Reusable Cloth Gift Bags

Back when my girls were younger my oldest daughter came up with the idea to make reusable cloth gift bags. They had fun making them together and we’ve kept up the tradition of using Christmas gift bags to wrap our presents in. Here’s the tutorial for how to make your own easy holiday gift bags for gift giving this season!

The 20-Year-Old Paper Gift Bag

Before you can fully understand why I’m so excited about these cloth gift bags, you have to understand the story of the 20-year-old paper gift bags. These gift bags are infamous for showing up every year.

I grew up in a family on a budget and while we never went without anything we needed, we certainly didn’t get everything we wanted (I’m very grateful for this). Many of my favorite gifts came from garage sales. My own kids even play with some of those things today. And then there was the gift bag…

The gift bag that kept on giving… itself.

My mom was great about not wasting things and filling up landfills before eco-friendly was trendy. She wouldn’t throw away a perfectly good gift bag (good for her) so they just kept being reused… year after year.

After Christmas mom would carefully fold up the bags and pack them away for the next year. Of course, this only worked with gifts we gave to other family members, but they had a system. They also saved bags from birthday parties and reused them to give birthday gifts.

They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To

I’m convinced they don’t make gift bags (or most things) like they used to because those gift bags lasted for years (and years and years). I didn’t realize just how long until I saw one a few years ago that I’d gotten for the first time as a child! That meant it was well over 20 years old and still kicking!

As impressive as it is that the bag lasted that long, I knew most paper gift bags wouldn’t these days. Our family has found reusable fabric gift bags are a much better option.

Reusable Cloth Gift Bags

Our family has used these cloth gift bags for years now. I love that they’re fully reusable, and high quality compared to the paper bags at the store. Surprisingly they weren’t even that much more expensive to make than the disposable versions. And if you can catch some Christmas sales you can probably find organic cotton fabric or muslin at a discount making them even more affordable.

Different Kinds of Bags To Make

While we use these bags for Christmas presents there are plenty of other options. You could make some with pastel colors for Easter gifts, or whip up a batch for birthdays and baby shower gifts. We have cotton bags, but making some with burlap would be cute too.

Make some tall gift pouches to gift as a wine bag with some healthier wine, or make some bigger ones that can double as storage bags. You can even make smaller bags to use as jewelry bags or as favor bags for party favors. I’ve even used some of the small organza bags to make my own naturally scented drawer fresheners before.

Why We Use Cloth Gift Bags

There are several great reasons to use cloth gift bags!

1. Reduce Waste

Holiday waste is a BIG problem and getting bigger!

Consider this, in the US alone, we use over 4 million pounds of gift wrap each year and much of this ends up in the landfill. There’s also an extra 2 billion pounds of garbage generated every week during the holiday season. Then there’s the over 1 billion holiday cards that also end up in the trash.

Reusable bags solve this problem… and you never have to buy expensive wrapping paper again!

2. Easier to Wrap (and Store)

Ever spent hours wrapping presents on Christmas Eve? With six kids and a lot of family members, there’s a lot of gift wrapping every year. Even though each person only gets one gift, it adds up. Hours spent meticulously wrapping, only for the kids to tear it off in 10 seconds!

These bags have cut my wrapping time in less than half. Just put the gifts in the bag, tie them with a ribbon and you’re done!

Also, no need to try to keep tubes of partially used wrapping paper from coming unrolled in the closet or attic. These just fold up after you use them and stay in a box until next year.

3. They Look Better

This one is completely subjective, but I really think these bags are cuter than most wrapping paper! Add a kraft paper gift tag to the ribbon or jute string and you’ve got a nice looking gift.

Want to Buy Them?

If you don’t have the time or desire to make these you can find some really nice drawstring gift bags online. Check out these festive large gift bags made with Christmas-themed fabric. Whatever you use, please consider using reusable options for wrapping gifts! Our over-crowded landfills will thank you.

How to Make Reusable Cloth Gift Bags

The only downside to these bags is the little bit of sewing they require, though they are a super-easy sewing project. My girls first made these when they were ages 3-8 and they loved working on this project! For an even easier no-sew option, try these DIY T-shirt bags that can double as shopping bags.

You Will Need:

  • Christmas Fabric of Choice: I really recommend supporting a local store and you can find some great deals on Christmas fabric after Christmas. We found some with snowflakes and a snowman on them, along with other seasonal fabrics. You could even go for red fabric to make it look like a mini Santa sack.
  • Pinking Shears:  Not absolutely necessary, but these pinking shears cut the edges of the fabric in a zig-zag so it won’t fray. This helps the bags last even longer and can eliminate the step of sewing a hem across the top if you don’t mind a zig-zag as the finished edge.
  • Sewing Machine: My girls got a heavy-duty sewing machine for Christmas one year and they’ve used it a lot. There are some less expensive options out there, but this one had great reviews and a good warranty. I also like that it’s heavy-duty enough to sew through denim, which has come in handy for some other projects. If you don’t have a machine, you can also hand sew, although it will take longer.
  • Ribbon: Instead of adding a drawstring we went with the easier option and decided to use a ribbon to close the bags. These can be plain or have holiday patterns on them. We reuse the ribbon along with the cloth gift bag.
cloth gift bags


5 from 1 vote

How to Make Reusable Cloth Gift Bags

Learn how to customize your own cloth gift bags to use as an alternative to disposable wrapping paper and gift bags.

Prep Time7minutes mins

Active Time10minutes mins

Total Time15minutes mins

Yield: 1 bag

Author: Katie Wells



  • Decide how big you want to make your bag. Remember to make them taller than you think you’ll need so there’s room to tie at the top. We made a bunch in varying sizes.
  • Cut the edges out. If you want a zig-zag top, then use the pinking shears to cut out the top.
  • Lay the right sides of the fabric together and pin the edges. It’s important to put the right sides together so the finished product doesn’t show any seams. The girls learned this the hard way with one of their first projects and asked me to include the reminder!
  • Sew a 5/8 inch seam around three sides of the bag, leaving the top side open. You can actually sew any size seam since it won’t be seen.
  • If you plan to hem the top, fold it down, iron it, and pin it. Sew the seam and turn the bag inside out. The other option is to leave the zig-zag cut at the top.
  • If you don’t want to hem the top, then just sew a straight seam around the top of the bag just below the cut area. This helps prevent it from fraying eventually.


To use your bag, place the gift inside and tie it closed with a decorative ribbon. 

What do you use to wrap gifts? Ever made a DIY wrapping like this?


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