Repurposing a Christmas Jumper into a Gift Bag

by Jimmie

Out of style Christmas dresses can be repurposed into cute, reusable gift bags for bulky gifts. Here is how to do it.

I had an old Chistmas jumper from the 1990s made from a blue and white, snowman themed fabric.

I had a bulky Christmas gift for my mom -- a folding cart -- that did not come with a box (thanks, Sears).

Voila! Inspiration!

Necessity is truly the mother of invention. Normal gift wrap or a gift bag simply wouldn't do to wrap the folding cart. Because it is heavy, the cart would cause paper would rip apart from its weight. Then I remembered the jumper among some retro Christmas sweaters that had been passed on to me. I laid it on the floor and realized that the skirt portion was plenty big for holding the cart!

From Jumper to Gift Bag

Jumper Before and Gift Bag After
Jumper Before and Gift Bag After
by Jimmie

Upcycling is Thrifty and Fun

The fabric is a cute vintage style-- lots of snowmen, snowflakes, and words about snow. It makes a great Christmas gift bag.

Snow Man Fabric
Snow Man Fabric
Cart --too bulky to wrap
Cart --too bulky to wrap

Preparing the Jumper

To Transform into a Gift Bag

I chopped it off right at the top of the skirt so that I had a tube of fabric to work with. (I kept the bodice for my scrap pile.) 

Cut Jumper
Cut Jumper
Skirt Cut Away
Skirt Cut Away

How to Make a Gift Bag

From a Skirt or Jumper

These are the steps I took to transform my jumper bottom into a gift bag.

1. Sew the bottom.

Turning the skirt inside out, I sewed along the bottom hem, closing up the bottom of the bag.

2. Square the bottom.

Laying my seam flat, I sewed across it at a 90° angle to form corners at the bottom of my bag. (This step is optional.) See more details at this square bottom bag tutorial.

3. Iron a casing.

Along the top raw edge, turn under ¼ inch and press. Then turn under again about ¾ to 1 inch. Press.

4. Make two buttonholes on right side of casing.

Looking at the right side, mark spots for two buttonholes on the casing. Place them on each side of the bag just in front of (or behind) the side seam of the former skirt. Make the buttonholes through only one layer of fabric, not through the entire casing.

5. Sew down the casing.

Once the buttonholes are made and cut out, sew close to the edge of the casing you created.

6. Thread two drawstrings.

Measure two drawstrings long enough to go around the entire top of the casing. You can use whatever you have in your sewing stash -- lengths of ribbon, cording, webbing, or lace. Attach a large safety pin to the end of one drawstring. Using the saftey pin to maneuver, put the drawstring into one buttonhole and all the way around the casing back out the same buttonhole. Tie the ends together. Do the same procedure for the second drawstring, going in and out of the other buttonhole. When you finish, the two drawstrings should be opposite each other. When you pull on them, the bag opening contracts and finally closes. (See the photos below for the drawstring action.)

The Top Casing

Make Casing
Make Casing

The Drawstring Action

As You Pull Both Sides, the Opening Closes.
Drawstring 1
Drawstring 1
Drawstring 2
Drawstring 2
Drawstring 3
Drawstring 3
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A Reusable Gift Bag

Frugal and Green

My snowman upcycled gift bag is not only thrifty but also very green. This gift bag can be packed away with the Christmas decorations and reused year after year.

Have You Ever Done a Repurposing Project?

Repurpose those old jeans into functional crafts! Use the denim to sew up some projects -- aprons, totebags, book covers, or drawstring bags.
I make sewing more affordable and green by stocking my sewing closet at the thrift store. Second hand clothes and linens can be repurposed to create original sewing projects.
Updated: 02/27/2012, Jimmie
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supercarly on 01/04/2012

This is brilliant. Use an old skirt or dress,in a similar way, to make a bookbag for your primary school kids to carry their books in.

sheilamarie on 12/27/2011

Good idea, Jimmie. Now I wonder how your mother will reuse that bag. Laundry bag?

Marie on 12/20/2011

Great tip. I have a hard time throwing things away - they have to be re-used in another project or at least given to charity. Great to make your own gift bags at this time of year too.

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