Christmas in July: Burlap Bags
July 21, 2013
This year, I am taking steps early to make sure that I have ready gifts on-hand when the holidays roll around. I always get frustrated when I'm invited to a party or cookie swap or caroling event, but I don't get to relax and enjoy the time with family and friends because I've worked myself into a frazzle trying to make sure I have a gift so I don't fall victim to empty-handedness syndrome. I get equally frustrated when I have to give something that has no personal touch because I was ill-prepared.
But this year WILL be different! I'm preparing now by churning out burlap wine bags, and keeping a small stash of nice wines on hand to fill them. Here's to a frazzle-free (or at least frazzle-reduced) holiday season!
To make a bag, I started by cutting a 36-by-7 inch rectangle out of burlap. The long length means there's a fold instead of a seam at the bottom, so the bag can stand easily with a bottle in it and not tip over. Then, I cut a roughly 4.5-inch deep U-shape out of each end, leaving about 1.5 inches on each side to form handles. I also cut a matching piece of satin to flat line the burlap with.
Using a nice long stitch length, I machine basted the burlap to the satin, wrong sides together. I like how the wide weave of the burlap allows the color of the lining to show through.
Once the pieces were basted together, I trimmed up any uneven edges, and then marked all four sides 7 inches down from the top edge of the handle pieces.
Next up, I folded the piece lengthwise so the handles met, and stitched the ends together. I also ran a zig-zag stitch to finish off the seam and minimize burlap fraying.
With my handles joined at the top, I ran a bias binding along the outside handle edges between the marks I made earlier. I also bound the edges of the oval neck opening. At this point, the sides of the bag are still open.
I closed up the sides of the bag from the fold at the bottom up to the bound segment of the handle, including about 1/2 inch of the binding. I also zig-zagged here -- you don't want a seam to split in a bag that's carrying fluid-filled glass bottles!
Then, I just bound the side edges with bias the same way I did the handle and neck edges, overlapping and encasing the handle binding a little.
And that's that!
I made a few different styles of bags, experimenting with both printed and colored burlap. For the purple bag, I used up a taffeta scrap from the stash to make the bias binding. It occured to me while I was stitching that while this assortment is intended for holiday gifting, it would be fun to experiment with colors to match any time of year. Autumn and spring colors would be especially fun to play with, I think.
A bit of pretty ribbon to tie the bags closed finishes the gift prep. Here are three gifts, ready to go at a moment's notice.
Of course, these bags aren't just for giving spirits. They can be made to any size, so if you prefer to keep things like luxury bath products or boxes of candy on hand for instant giving, just adjust your measurements to the items you like to give. No matter what your bags carry, they'll look festive and carry cheer!
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