Got leftover fabric scraps? Use them to fancify gifts!

July 14 | Guest post by Lindsay

Lindsay is a regular on Offbeat Mama — writing about life as one of two moms of a baby girl. We're happy to get to host her handiwork this week!

All photos by Angie Tabaczynski.

I'm a real DIY-er, and always have some sewing project or another in the works, so one thing we tend to have a plethora of — stuffed in bags and bins with no real home or immediate plan for use — is fabric scraps. If you're looking for a cheap, simple, and green way to disguise a surprise, consider giving your discarded fabric some love by finding it a new purpose in life. Fabric scraps are a fantastic alternative to flimsy paper and shiny mylar — they're a little classier than the funnies and are more visually interesting than brown paper bags.

My wife and I have always tried to make environmentally-conscious decisions, and welcoming our daughter to the family this fall really made us amp-up our consideration of the waste our little trio creates. One evening this past winter, as I was working on some crafty venture or another, my wife looked at my pile of scraps and suggested we use the modest collection of odds-n-ends to get a little greener with our gift-wrapping. She revealed that an old friend of hers employed this practice, and when the gem of an idea was passed on to me, I ate it up.

The first time we put the plan into action was the 2010 holiday season. My siblings and I don't typically exchange gifts, but since we've all got littles, we send something small (like a homemade ornament) to each of the nieces and nephews every year. These are perfect-sized gifts for wrapping with fabric leftovers!

To use fabric as gift-wrap, follow the same general guidelines as you would with paper. You'll want the fabric to be about twice as wide as any item you're wrapping, with enough length to fold over envelope-style, concealing the edges. I find that I use a bit more fabric for wrapping than paper, because using hemp, yarn, twine, and string to hold down the loose bits of material is less precise than tape and requires more material to get a good "seal." If you're the kind of wrapper who needs an extra finger as you tie a ribbon on a package, I suggest recruiting someone to lend a third hand to hold the fabric down as you make your knots and bows. In a pinch, a spot of hot glue works to tack down edges and corners as you decorate; just take care not to damage the item you're wrapping.

As a final step, consider sprucing up the packages further with other goodies that may be hiding in drawers, crannies, and closets. Silk flowers and beads make great accents, and gift tags can be cut from paper bags, cardboard, or the fronts of those greeting cards you've been hoarding. Bonus "green" points if you can convince the gift recipient to re-use the fabric for a craft project or (better yet!) the next gift they give!

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  1. We do that in my family! My older sister also likes to wrap things in interesting t-shirts or scarves she finds at thrift stores.

  2. Definitely my favorite way to wrap gifts. I keep an eye out for cool remnants at the store to use for wrapping in addition to my scraps.

  3. I love this idea 🙂 this year for my boyfriend's birthday present I did this except I used fancy tea towels as the wrapping – so the wrapping was actually part of the gift too! He was thrilled.

  4. So cool to see this featured on Offbeat Home. I like to keep it real in all Offbeat Aspects of life. 🙂 Glad to read that others are practicing green gifting, too!

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