Friday, May 8, 2009

Easy Gift Bags

This is Part 2 of the Mothers and Daughters Traditions Blog Roll Day 3 challenge. In the previous post, we talked about gift boxes. Here, I'm going to show you some quick and easy ideas for decorating bags and for making your own bags from a template.

I love the ease of using decorated bags for gift-giving. A few simple embellishments can turn a simple bag into a work of art. The simplest thing is to take an existing bag and put your special touch on it. Even bags with holiday themed prints can be recycled by covering the holiday images with your own hand stamped and decorated ones, matted and mounted on coordinating papers.

For a more feminine look, I like to replace the knotted cord handles found on many bags with a wide piece of sheer, wired ribbon or soft satiny ribbon, pulling it through the holes and knotting it.

Satin ribbon tends to fray, but as long as it contains synthetic fiber, you can heat and fuse the fibers of the cut edges with your heat tool to prevent further fraying. For very thin or delicate ribbon, the heat tool may be too hot; I use a candle, running the flame close to the cut edge. When the fibers melt, there is a subtle but noticeable change. You want to barely melt the cut fibers. Too much heat, and some ribbons will melt into a hard ridge.

To decorate the panels, I like to create bands of paper and lace and overlay those with matted panels that I embellish with either a stamped and painted image or some hand punched and hand stamped flowers. You can also make personalized medallions with monograms or ephemera.

For smaller gifts, you can make your own bag and you have the ultimate control over the size of your bag. Coordinate the bag with a handmade card for a fabulous “designer” gift set.

If you use a double sided heavy paper (lightweight card stock) that is printed on both sides you’ll have a bag that is beautiful both inside and out. When you make your own gift bag, you can design the bag to fit the dimensions of your gift. Remember to leave “finger room” – enough space for the recipient to reach in and easily remove the gift.

If you want the bag to stand without tipping over, the narrower side panels should be about half as wide as the front and back panels. This proportion works well and your bag will stand without falling over, no matter what the actual dimensions are and no matter how tall it is. Here are templates and detailed instructions for making your own bags.

This template can be cut from 12 inch paper and trimmed to the desired height plus 1-1/2 inches (which folds under and in to form the bottom of the bag). With this bag, the seam is at a corner and you have two large unblemished panels that can be decorated on the front and back of the bag. To score the folds, orient your panel in a landscape position and score at ½”, 2-½”, 6”. 8”, and 11-½”. Then turn the bag a quarter turn and score across the lower edge at the 1-1/2 inches. All scores should be valleys on the outside of the bag. If the paper has a directional pattern, make sure to orient the score for the bottom edge properly so the pattern is right side up.

The blue lines in the diagram can be used as guides for cutting away excess if you are making a small bag with particularly heavy card stock. If your paper is lighter weight, when you fold the bottom, natural creases will form where these fold lines are marked.

To Assemble the Bag:

First, fold and set each fold with a bone folder to insure crisp folds and corners. Apply a roller adhesive or light ribbon of glue along the inside edge of the first thin (1/2 inch) panel, fold the panel to the inside and secure the paper. Apply adhesive to the outside edge of the first thin panel on the opposite side, fold it inward and fasten it to the glued panel on the other side.

To form the bottom, cut a diagonal line into the corner (along the blue lines in the diagram).

Fold the side, front and back panels inward and secure with adhesive.

If you are folding, rather than cutting the bottom, fold the sides in, bulging the front and back out slightly, and fold creases in the bottom flaps of the front and back panels, as you would if you were gift wrapping a box. Set the folds with a bone folder and repeat on the opposite side and then secure with adhesive.

Finishing the Bags:

The ways in which these little gift bags can be finished and embellished are endless. The first example is made from a dragonfly print paper from Kaiser's Dancing Jewel line. I trimmed it with a scrap of Wesley from Melissa Frances. A dragonfly stamped in Versamark and embossed in copper is finished with gold and copper seed beads set with Diamond Glaze along his body and over his wings.The wings were stamped twice and layered for a 3D effect. The flowers were punched from scraps of other papers n the Dancing Jewel line, leftover from a previous project.

The second bag is made from Imaginisce's Wildflower Soup paper. I love the bright colors and cheerful print. Trimmed with the reverse pattern and some Prima flowers, a bright red ribbon finishes it off.

When I am making an elegant bag, and for bags that are larger than 4 inches, I usuallyadd an extra half inch to the height of the bag so that I can fold the cut edge over to form a cuff. This gives the top of the bag a finished edge. Another way to combine a finished top edge with a decorative edging is to create a binding to go over the edge.

Use a lace or decorative punch or decorative scissors to create the edging and then trim the length of paper to about an inch wide. Fold the strip in half and set the fold with a bone folder. Unfold and apply adhesive to the entire length of edging, being careful to keep it open. Attach the edging to the front of the bag, taking care to keep the crease level with the top of the bag.

I find it easier to do this section by section, one side of the bag at a time. After you adhere the edging to the front of the bag, snip the inside piece at the corner and press that section to the inside of the bag, and work around all four sides the same way.

Prima flowers and buttons from the Basic Grey Sugared collection, sewn together with red sewing thread, set off the sentiment and anchor the ribbon handle.

A truly decadent finishing touch is tissue paper trimmed and stamped to coordinate with the bag. A fast and easy way to trim with decorative scissors or a lace edge punch is to fold a half sheet of tissue in quarters before trimming, then cut or punch through four thicknesses.

A flower or flourish is a perfect design to stamp randomly on the paper. I used Imaginisce's "Wildflowers" stamp from the Twitterpated collection with Warm Red ink (ColorBox Chalk) to stamp the paper.

(Note: Click on any image to see a larger version.)


Anonymous said...

I love your dragonfly embellishment it's beautiful!

Gift Boxes and Bags said...

Nice gift bags collection. Thanks for sharing the information.