How to make an upcycled fabric gift bag

I have a never ending mending pile, which I struggle to keep up with. One great way to avoid the mending without wasting the clothes is turn them into bags to wrap gifts! This upcycled fabric gift bag is simple and attractive.

If you don’t have any clothes that are suitable or want something seasonal, take a look in charity shops. I found a pair of kids PJ’s for £2 in a charity shop recently, that I decided would make great gift bags.

Note: if you like this post, you might be interested in my sustainable gift wrapping course.

Upcycled fabric gift bag

Fabric gift bag step 1

Lay out the gifts that you plan to give on top of the pyjama bottoms. You need to make sure they will fit. For larger gifts you might want to make a bigger bag. For smaller ones, you could get more gift bags out of it. It is important to leave a big enough gap at the top and bottom. This is so that there is spare fabric to tie up at the top over the gift. For some sustainable gift ideas check out my post here: Sustainable gifts your friends and family will love

The pyjama bottoms that I found were aged 9-10. As you can see they comfortably fit a couple of bottles of fizz and a couple of books in them. If your gifts are bigger, you will need a bigger pair of trousers or pyjamas!

Gift bags from old clothes, fabric gift bag, DIY fabric gift bag

Step 2

Chop into 4 pieces. I made one cut around half way up each leg to make the bottom pieces. For the top pieces, cut down the middle of the waist band on each side. Next cut down the central seams to separate the top part into two pieces. Don’t cut over two pieces of fabric at once on the top part as it has more potential to go wrong

Gift bags from old clothes, fabric gift bag pattern, fabric gift bags

Step 3 of the gift bag

Turn the leg pieces inside out. For the bottom part of the trouser legs, you only need to sew across one end. I zig zag stitched the ends together to stop them from fraying, then I did a straight line stitch a bit further in. Make sure you tie the thread ends together after sewing so it doesn’t come undone later.

The top parts are a bit more complicated. However, you again want one end sewn up and one end left open. Remember to do the zigzag and the line stitch to make it a good quality seam! You might want to chop off the sticking out bit of fabric where the legs join to make it a straighter bag. It’s up to you how you do it.

With both bags, I sewed the raw edges i.e. the cut edge. I thought the finished edges look better for the opening.

Step 4

Turn your bags the right way out , insert gifts and tie bags with a ribbon!

Gift bags from old clothes

I think these gift bags made from old clothes look really attractive! It took me a couple of hours to make them and cost me 50p each. It would be a bit of a mission to make these in bulk if you wanted to use them for all your gifts. However you could build up your stash slowly.

In case you are wondering if the clothes would have been better off left as is, we buy and donate far more clothes to charity than we can use in this country. Find out more about this issue here: Is it OK to haggle in charity shop?

Not using conventional wrapping paper might feel a bit strange at first. However, I think in a few years time most of us will be avoiding it – well at least I hope so! My hope comes from remembering the time when it seemed like I was one of a handful of people refusing plastic bags in shops. Now shops aren’t allowed to give them away! Awareness of our impact on the environment is spreading and step by step we are making the changes in the right direction.

Come and join my Zero Waste Christmas Facebook group and share pictures of your resuable gift bags there. Plus don’t forget to check out my sustainable gift wrapping course for more in depth tutorials on eco friendly gift wrapping techniques. Plus for more free ideas for how to wrap up gifts without the waste, check out my post here: Beautiful eco friendly ways to wrap up gifts.