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Getting Things All Wrapped Up

Rainbow bugs Gift Bag

I wanted to share with you a wrapping idea that I started to use about 25 years ago.  Wrapping gifts is a rather precise task and those papers and bags get so expensive.

I started taking bits of fabric and making draw string bags out of it.  There was always a bit of flannel left from the PJs my Mum crafted each of the kids, so I made a bag to match their new PJs;  then one liked cats, another penguins, and the third frogs and butterflies.

Each birthday I would make another couple of draw string bags. When people were traveling the world, I would ask for a bit of fabric from their travels and then make them draw string bags out of the fabric they shared with me.

Snowflake and Suede Santa Bag 09

The bride and groom can always use a personalized set.

Hanukkah, Christmas, Valentines….

If you don’t get one of your set returned, well just make a new set.  Then friends got into the act and started making bags for taking  lunches and snacks.  My partner has one with the earth painted on the fabric and another with a Mickey Mouse motif from his early favorite pair of PJs from his mother – you get the picture!

Wrapping paper is often made with toxic dyes.  Foil paper cannot be put in the recycling can. Ribbon is a hazard to plants, animals and the landfill.

Ribbons or draw strings are old hair ribbons, leftover lace, and odd ends from the fabric store.  My mother chain crocheted a number of strings out of her knitting supplies to match the fabric theme.

We have several hundred bags now and they make the season bright.  If the gift melts all over – wash and sometimes iron – back to new…
Just an idea – that is easy, fun and adds to the magic of this season without causing so much waste.

What tricks have you discovered for wrapping it all up?

Satin Stars Gift bagReindeer Santa bag 09

Can’t wait to discover your ideas in the comments section:

Books as gifts you might wish to give:
Animal Vegetable Miracle
Merle’s Door, Lessons From a Freethinking Dog
Harvest Potluck UNICEF fundraiser
Champagne Tour

19 Responses to “Getting Things All Wrapped Up”

  1. Talon Says:

    The bags are a great idea – I’ve made a few before.And, like you, I usually have plenty of scraps. There are some really beautiful fabrics, too, and you can get scraps at good prices. They really solve the problem of wrapping oddly shaped gifts, too. Sometimes I’ll wrap a gift in a tea towel or a regular towel – really nice for kitchen gifts or bath-related gifts. I like using baskets, too. I’ve also used recycled plain brown paper and painted or stencilled on the wrap and used raffia for tying it up.

    Still crossing my fingers that you get a nice snowfall for your cross-country skiing Christmas!
    .-= Talon´s last blog ..Peaceful =-.

  2. Patricia Says:

    Thank you for your snow felt wishes…I understand it is snowing like crazy there today…and more is due Christmas Day! I think the spot is so beautiful it will be fun no matter the amount of the white stuff!

    Oh I love your ideas…and we used all of the kids nursery school prolific painting papers too and one vacation day we took brown paper and stenciled Santa Hats and trees with potato prints…some of that paper is still in use. The girls Godmother always wrapped with pieces of fabric…

    Thank you for dropping by..

  3. Cath Lawson Says:

    Hi Patricia – What a lovely idea. I hate wrapping and all the waste and cost that comes with it. This sounds like a much more environmentally friendly idea and the bags are re-usable too.

  4. Patricia Says:

    Thanks Cath,
    Yep even the teenagers like bags that reflect them…though I did not do a set with skulls and cross bones on them…I did do rather gothic looking ones for one kid…

    When my kids were low on funds and had a birthday or friend gift they needed they made a bag….they were most often used as lunch bags for school, but then the kids started to branch out.

    I like that the sewing does not need to be very exacting…and the fabric pieces are just odd ends…now with a new use

  5. vered | blogger for hire Says:

    Beautiful! I LOVE that they are non-toxic and reusable.
    .-= vered | blogger for hire´s last blog ..Peanut Butter Cookies =-.

  6. Patricia Says:

    Other great benefits…of the fabric bags! Yep I know you had to stop eating peanut butter cookies to head this way…so thank you for dropping by :)

  7. Barbara Swafford Says:

    Hi Patricia,

    What an ingenious idea. You’ve certainly came up with a great way to not only help save the usage of paper, but create more memories at the same time. Love it!
    .-= Barbara Swafford´s last blog ..The Shortest Lesson Ever =-.

  8. Dot Says:

    Your bags are gorgeous and so festive! When I was younger, I spent a great deal of time wrapping packages in special ways. I took a class in bow-making and bought a couple of books on special ways to wrap. I had learned the basics of making a tight package from a job I had as a teenager wrapping sets of forms in brown paper.

    Nowadays, I’ve had to reduce my gift list a great deal because of being sick all the time, so there isn’t much wrapping, but your idea is a great one! I can picture finding special fabrics and ties instead of paper and ribbons.
    .-= Dot´s last blog ..Comment on Inheriting by Jannie Funster =-.

  9. Hilary Says:

    Hi Patricia .. I think that’s a great idea .. when I get my sewing machine back out – good therapy, while I cogitate the next post! They’ve been suggesting over here using newspaper, and I guess you could use the prettier printed pages .. the family recycle large bits of paper .. now it’s recycled for the Shetland pony’s bed!!!

    Newspaper and foliage with holly berries could be good –

    You’re full of bright ideas Patricia .. enjoy this festive season and I do hope you feel a little easier soon .. my Ma tells me (even now!) to have my honey everyday for my back .. could be a good idea for your knees? My back is an old injury I think .. and once I can get back some sort of ‘life’ it will ease .. 2010 here we come …

    Hilary Melton-Butcher
    Positive Letters Inspirational Stories
    .-= Hilary´s last blog ..Kissing under the Mistletoe – how did it all begin? and Asterix! =-.

  10. Patricia Says:

    Thanks for the good words…it is also just about the limit of my sewing ability!

    I also find that the women in my life like the bags just as a gift themselves. I made one for my mum to pack her extra shoes in when traveling and used an old tapestry cloth that was damaged for her to put her personal items in when she had a trip to the hospital… I have purchased some quilting squares already cut to make some nice new ones as gifts…

    Thank you for the Honey suggestion. I am doing much, much better…we used newspaper along the way, but the ink is so messy. One nephew made a package that looked like a guitar for his sister’s new necklace….made it more fun to unwrap all the layers and reveal all the intentions!

  11. Tara@Sticky Fingers Says:

    What a fabulously creative idea Patricia.
    I have done the newspaper thing before (made bags from newspaper and used old thick string for the handles) but they pretty much collapse after one use!

  12. Patricia Says:

    My kiddos just love having their own bags and remembering old gifts that came in them….They are great fun and the newspaper stuff is only one use…
    I really liked you music post today

  13. JD Says:


    It’s been awhile since i’ve checked out your page, sorry for that. Anywho, this is such a brilliant idea that you’ve shared with us. Such a simple thing to do, that can mean the world to some. Crafty and personal. Thanks for the idea!

  14. patricia Says:

    Hey JD really fun to find you here…and thank you for your nice comments….you must be done with school work for another quarter!

    Have you downloaded your free cook book at Harvest Potluck site above! I know you like to eat good food…and it is full of yummy stuff…

    Hope you are enjoying a good holiday experience and vacation ahead

  15. Jannie Funster Says:

    Wow!! I’m duly impressed. You should be on tv or in a magazine for those. Have you been? Are you?

    A few years ago I bought about a dozen rolls of paper wrap ‘m still using, but your bags take the wrapping cake.

    May I suggest you begin this post with a photo of one of those, right off the bat? Would really draw in a reader as I plan on Stumbling this.
    .-= Jannie Funster´s last blog ..With Not A Dry Parental Eye In The House =-.

  16. Patricia Says:

    I did want a picture up top…my IT did not have time she is done for the semester and I will remind her about moving one up top..

    They are fun. Thank you

  17. Patricia Says:

    IT girl moved the pictures while I as writing you to reply…

  18. J.D. Meier Says:

    I took a short-cut with wrapping this year. I was able to donate to a charity and get my gifts wrapped in a single blow.
    .-= J.D. Meier´s last blog ..8 Ways to Be Heroic =-.

  19. Patricia Says:

    We did that too for extended family members…well, I gave each family a donation to UNICEF and the Harvest Potluck ebook…they gave me a heifer and a chicken for an other organization…

    It is away to not add to the ecology with more toxic dyes and foil and plastic “things”
    .-= Patricia´s last blog ..Peaceful Service – Practices of Peace =-.