Green Grocery Bag Challenge ~ Wrap It!

on December 3 | in Contests & Giveaways, Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 31 Comments

Green Grocery Bag ChallengeIn early November we told you about the Green Grocery Bag Challenge. Put simply, we’re encouraging you to wrap your holiday gifts in reusable cloth bags. By doing so, we reduce the amount of wrapping paper entering the waste stream while also getting multi-use bags into the hands of more shoppers. It’s a small gesture for Mother Earth. We hope you’ll be running across more posts about The Green Grocery Bag Challenge in your adventures online in the coming weeks. We know lots of friends will be sharing tutorials and wrapping suggestions. We’ll be rounding up some of those ideas next week. You can also find more information on the GGBC Facebook page.

In the meantime, we asked our friend, Florence of Flossie Teacakes if she could suggest some pretty ways to wrap in  reusable cloth bags. She used the pattern from the Green Bag Lady, which is quick and easy. As you can see, with a few flourishes, they also make gorgeous gift wrapping! Thank you, Florence!

From Florence

Wrapping Christmas presents up in fabric shopping bags is actually surprisingly easy once you have accepted that the end result will not replicate the look of a traditional paper-wrapped gift, but rather, will create a wrapping that will inevitably be more structurally striking. I was amazed at how sculptural the wrappings can become with plumes of fabric puffing up and creases of material billowing out, amplifying the gift’s natural shape, rather than hugging closely to its form.

By the time December comes I tend to want to throw myself straight into the heady goodness that is Christmas, believing that summer will never come and that one may be able to use the colours red and white almost exclusively for the rest of one’s life without it ever looking seasonally inappropriate….but as I’m writing and planning this in November then good sense prevails and I can see that it is worth remembering that the bag itself will be a greener gift if it’s created in a neutral colour that allows for year-round use. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t go wild with sparkly ribbons and beads… or even flowers and butterflies (as I have), as these things can become a part of the gift and reused later in future wrapping by either yourself or the gift recipient.

So here are a few examples for how three commonly-shaped gifts might be wrapped, the only essential things, other than the bag, are some ribbon and a few safety pins…anything else is a happy extra. Please politely ignore the fact that my wine bottle is half empty, the biscuit tin bares the marks of having already being ransacked (and I can tell you that the round Wedgwood box no longer has the fragile rattle of a teacup and saucer nestling inside either) – these are for demonstration purposes only and no reflection of a miserly attitude to gift-giving. In the instance of the wine bottle, I’ve tried to use fabric that demonstrates that this style of wrapping and bag can be quite suitable for men too. The monochrome blocks of colours can say ‘Man Bag’ just as loudly as they can ‘Jackie O’.

1. The wine bottle

Take the wine bottle and place it upright centrally inside the bag. Next, fold the right-hand flap of excess material inwards at the front, so that it covers the bottle.

Now do the same with the left-hand flap of fabric excess.

With one hand around the neck of the bottle holding the gathered material, bend the bag handles down at the back so that they are also caught in your grip…don’t pull them down too much though as a little plume at the top is a nice thing: like a peacock’s feathers. Now take a length of ribbon and tie it around the bottle neck.

I chose not to create a bow with the ribbon, but to leave the ends hanging loose. I then tucked a butterfly mounted on thin metal wire into the loop of ribbon that encircles the bottle neck. In England where I live these butterflies are widely available, popping up in most craft shops, but if you can’t lay your hands on one, then you can freestyle by using sprays of sparkly wired beads, flowers or even threading individual beads onto the ribbon itself.

2. The Square or Rectangular Box

Take the rectangular or square box and place centrally inside the bag.

Gather up the front half of the bag and then the back half. Now tie these two sides together, keeping the knot close to the top of the box. Hopefully you will be left with something looking a little like this.

Now take both loose ends and tie another knot, this time right at the tips of the loose ends to create an open loop of fabric.

Remove a few flowers from a wired spray like this one and thread them through the the folds of material of the top knot.

Your rectangular box should now be disguised like this:

3. The Round Box or Tin

Place the round gift centrally inside the bag.

Gather the fabric just above the top of the box.

Now wrap the bag handles around the area where the fabric is gathered – one at a time, wrap them both clockwise, the second handle being wrapped around twice, a little more tightly, so that two loops are formed.

Flatten the handle loops out so that they resemble a neat bow.

Now hold the bow in place using a safety pin.

Cover the safety pin with paper flowers or similar. I used double-sided tape to fix mine in place. Now you have a beautifully wrapped box!

Thanks, Florence!

If you’ve wrapped gifts in cloth bags, we’d love to see them! Share your photos in the Green Grocery Bag Challenge Flickr group!

PS: The Green Bag Lady is doing a giveaway for 25 Free Holiday bags! Check it out!

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31 Responses to Green Grocery Bag Challenge ~ Wrap It!

  1. Ganell says:

    Love these ideas! No wrapping paper here!

  2. Marcia W. says:

    Clever gift wraps.

  3. ~helena~ says:

    inspiringm love the ideas.

  4. Ginger says:

    What a neat idea!

  5. Florence says:

    Blossom – I’m so sorry – I’m not sure what the name of the pink fabric is – it’s from a fabric shop based in Holland (and I’m fairly sure that the fabric will have been printed in Holland too). I bought it about two years ago and haven’t seen it around since.

    I’m delighted that some of you liked the wrappings. Jaz – that’s completely right – Kristin sent me an image of some Furoshiki wrappings for inspiration…incorporating the bag handles into this means that they don’t look quite same, but still have a very similar feel.

    Florence x

  6. Texana says:

    I love these…what a great way to show off those fabrics that I love but will never make it into a quilt!

  7. SewLindaAnn says:

    Awesome ideas! I love that the wrapping can be reused.

  8. Ramona says:

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  9. Jaz says:

    This is much like the ancient japanese tradition called Furoshiki – parcels wrapped in cloth.
    I love it!

  10. Sherri S. says:

    Too pretty to open! Love these…

  11. Sara says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this and helping to validate me in my fabric wrapped Christmas gifts. Not all of the family is so supportive! Change of heart comes slow…

  12. erica says:

    This is going to be a wonderful way to receive my husbands sour cream coffee cakes he makes! And everyone will save the 2 cents when they use them at our local supermarkets instead of their platic bags! Bonus 🙂

  13. Madeline says:

    These are wonderful! I am so excited now to do all reusable bags!

  14. Katrina Hertzer says:

    Very cute!

  15. Very pretty!

  16. AP says:

    I have bought quite a bit of Christmas material this year to make bags for gifts instead of buying more wrapping paper. Of course, I still have some paper somewhere to use up. Thanks for the pattern link. I still need to make the bags!

  17. Mary Margaret says:

    Wonderful ideas! And everyone I know could use the bags!

  18. Rochelle says:

    What a fun idea! I’ll be using this myself.

  19. Stephanie S says:

    What a great idea!

  20. Seanna Lea says:

    Those are much more attractive than any of the cloth bags I’ve seen around here!

  21. Joey says:

    Great ideas – I have made the green bags already, just have to figure out how to wrap to not create more waste! I like the idea of a few safety pins, because those are always useful and will be re-used as well!

  22. Addy says:

    Thanks! I would’ve had a hard time figuring out how to do this creatively on my own!

  23. Beth T says:

    Very timely–today is wrapping day at our house. Thanks!

  24. Cherie says:

    Great idea.

  25. Christine says:

    Great ideas. I love the green with dots fabric.

  26. Samina says:

    So pretty – I’d have never guessed that these were bags!

  27. christine says:


  28. JennX says:

    brilliant!! thank you!

  29. Blossom says:

    So pretty, and very unique! I LOVE that pink floral fabric! What is the name of it?

  30. Michele Judd says:

    Very clever! And they look great.


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