stitched holiday wrapping tutorial

Create customized handmade gift wrap and get your recycle on all at one fell swoop!  This is the kind of project where you can really let your creativity flow free, but here are step-by-step instructions to get you on your way.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • a gift to wrap
  • used grocery bags, butcher paper, or other paper to stitch and wrap
  • thread in a variety of fun colors
  • cutting utensils for paper (not the scissors and rotary cutter you use for fabric!)
  • ruler
  • marking pencil
  • sewing machine and needle  (You won’t want to use this needle on fabric after you’ve sewn on paper with it.  I like to mark my paper needles with permanent marker or a dab of nail polish on the side and save them for the next paper project.)


1.  Cut your grocery bag so you’ve got a flat piece to work with.  Down one side…


…across the bottom, and cut that bottom right off.

2.  Make sure you’ve got a size big enough for what you’re wrapping, and cut the excess paper away. (That’s a Stylophone for my musician brother, who’s sure not to read this and spoil it.)


3.  Put the paper right side up, if you care which side is out when the gift is wrapped.  Center the gift on top and trace around it in pencil.


This will be the area you place right on top of the gift when you wrap it. This way you can focus your decorative stitching where you want it to show.


4.  Choose a thread color and with a large stitch length, start sewing across the paper.  I think it looks better if you sew with the right side of the paper up.  One of my favorite and the easiest designs to do is plaid.  Sew a few straight lines going in each direction…


…Use your creative judgment on where to sew the lines, how close together to sew them, etc.  Sew everything that will be in your first color before changing thread so that you don’t have to spend a lot of time re-threading your machine.


5.  Next add additional stitching with a complementary thread color.  Now that I’ve done several perpendicular red lines, I’m going to add a couple turquoise lines.


You can make this as simple or complex as you’d like.  I tend to stick with straight lines, but tried a little squiggle with this one.  I started out with an urge to sew an argyle pattern, but this is what it ended up as.  Don’t think to much when you do this, just see where your whims take you.


6.  If you’re really brave, add a tag with a little freehand stitching.  Drop your feed dogs, use a free-motion foot and sew your words rather than write them.  If you haven’t done freehand machine embroidery or machine quilting, this may take a little practice to get comfortable with, but it’s fun!  Just don’t stitch too close together or the paper will tear apart at the perforations made by the needle.  Clip away the loose threads when you’re done.


Experiment with different kinds of stitches your machine can do, or with different colors in your top and bobbin threads.  You can see here I used turquoise on top and red on the bottom and the tension causes the bobbin thread to peek through to the top, but it looks kinda cool.


7.  Erase your pencil marks and wrap the gift!

8.  Your stitching may shine on it’s own and your present could look great without a bow.  Or you may want something to top it off with.  Here I just stitched a strip of paper, wrapped it around itself several times, then wrapped colorful thread around the center to create the bow shape.  This is another thing you can get really wild on, or just keep it simple.  Try using different papers, layer them, pink the edges, whatever.


These bows are pretty small, but you can use wider stripes or larger loops to make a variety of sizes.


Another fun place to experiment is with types of thread.  Sulky Holoshimmer thread is one of my favorites, though you’ve got to use a larger needle and lower the tension so the thread doesn’t break.  Can’t resist sparkly.


Have fun and you’ll get to show off your gift giving skills and your creative skills all at once.


We’d love to see what kind of stitched gift wrap you come up with.  Show us by adding your photos to our flickr group!