Make This:

Stitched Gift Bag

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Upgrade a plain gift bag with a little hand stitching. This is a great way to customize your gift wrap with a name, an inside joke, or a reference to an occasion that isn’t main stream enough for manufacturers to cater to.

Supplies and Equipment:

– plain gift bag (this one is 8×10 inches)
– embroidery floss
– 3+ push pins
– cork, fun foam, or other material to pin into
– rubber cement
– sharp needle
– scissors
– paper
– paper pattern


Pattern: I’ve created a complete set of all caps letters, numbers and a little punctuation, carefully rendered in Helvetica Bold, sure to appeal to even the most design sensitive gift recipient. The letters are about 1.5 inches tall, changing the print size is an easy way to scale them for different applications.


Click here for patterns: Pattern Page 1 | Pattern Page 2


I don’t usually total up material costs because I know you could be reading this from anywhere in the world and the pricing may not be relevant, but in Chicago I was able to buy the plain bag and embroidery floss for about $1.25, with enough floss left over for a lot more bags. A generic, pre-decorated bag would have cost a lot more!

Use the rubber cement to glue a piece of paper inside the bag where you’re going to stitch. This extra stability helps a lot!


Slide the cork into the bag, making sure it’s above the side panels (you don’t want a bunch of holes on the sides.) Set the pattern in place on the bag, and pin it in place through two stitching holes with two of the push pins.

Use the third to punch the rest of the holes. You make have to re-adjust the cork at some point, just make sure the pattern is aligned before punching more holes.

When you finish the holes and pull the pattern off, it will look like this. I considered stopping here because it looked so cool, but I continued. At this point you could also use it as a luminary with an LED candle inside!

Thread the needle with three strands of the six strand floss. Six strands is too much to drag through the paper. Tie a knot at the end of the thread.

Start stitching from the inside. Be careful not to thrash the bag around too much. Use a running stitch to stitch all the way around.

Fill in the gaps with more running stitch. Depending on the number of holes in your line you’ll either continue as you were, or have to reverse and go the other direction.

Once that line is filled in, take a long stitch inside the bag and start on another line. Keep going until all the lines are stitched. When you run out of a thread you can tie it off, or just tape down the tails inside the bag.

Fill it with tissue paper and goodies, then bring on the party!