Fabric gift bags are easy to sew and make a great beginner project. You can reduce wrapping paper waste and if you make fabric gift bags ahead of time, give yourself the gift of time at the holidays. It’s easier to wrap in a fabric gift bag, you don’t need to find a box and you just have to tie a bow. Clean up after present opening is also much quicker!

I’ve sewed a few different versions and this is my favorite. It is quicker to sew than it is wrap a gift with paper!

There are only 2 seams and 1 hem. Attaching the ribbon on the outside is requires less ribbon and less time than drawstring style bags.

The 4 most popular sizes require the following size fabric rectangles. Precision is not required. Change the dimensions to suit your fabric and gift to be wrapped.

Large – 24″H x 44″W  (60cm x 110cm)  or as wide as the fabric

Medium – 18″H x 30″W (45cm x 75cm)

Small – 10″H x 12″W (25cm x 30cm)

Wine – 12″H x 18″W (30cm x 45cm)

I normally say prewash and iron your fabric before starting, but I’m assuming you are sewing at the last minute and aren’t likely to be washing the bags in the future.

I rip quilting cottons to quickly make rectangles.  Cut a small slit and rip straight across.  As the selvages are more densely woven, you will likely need to cut through when ripping across the fabric.

To make a large bag, measure 24″ (60cm) down the selvage, cut a slit and rip straight across.

To make a medium bag, measure 18″ (45cm), cut and rip straight across.  Remove 12″ from one end of the rectangle to use for a wine or small bag.

With right sides together pin the side and bottom. Double check you have pinned along the bottom if using a directional print with an obvious up.

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Sew or serge the seam. I like a 3/8″ (10 mm) seam allowance if sewing or a 1/4″ (5 mm) on the serger as that is the width of the presser foot. Precision is not required while making these fabric gift bags so use your preferred size seam.

Finish the raw edges of the seam either with the serger or with a zigzag stitch. This will keep future stray threads to a minimum.


Finish the top edge either with the serger or a zigzag stitch. Fold the top edge over 3″ (8 cm) on a medium or large bag, 2″ (5 cm) on a small or wine bag. Pin in place. I don’t press with the iron as speed is key and I like the fluffier look of not ironing the top.


Topstitch in place. I use the side of my pressure foot as a guide along the raw edge of the fabric on the inside with a stitch length of 3.


Turn right side out pushing out the corners with your finger.

Cut a piece of ribbon for the tie.  I find 24″ (60 cm) to be the right length for all bags to get a decent size bow. Fold in half to find the middle. Sew the middle of the ribbon on at the seam, just above the top stitching line backstitching at the start and end to ensure the ribbon stays on.



Voila! You are done! Fast wasn’t it?  3 yards (3 meters) of fabric and 4 yards (4 meters) of ribbon will make 6 medium bags and 6 small bags in about an hour.

Let me know how long it takes you to sew up a set!

Check out Part II for sewing a bag with enclosed seams.


Quick and Easy Fabric Gift Bag