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Polka dot gift wrap

December 05, 2009|By Jeannine Stein

12You don't have to leave home to create one-of-a-kind gift wrap that will set your packages apart. Turn plain brown grocery bags into stunning wraps using scraps of paper found around the house, some shoe polish and a few simple tools. There's no need to spend $8 or more for a roll of fine wrapping paper when materials are free and right at your fingertips.

Polka-dot scrap wrapping paper


Brown paper grocery bags

Scraps of paper from magazines, newspapers, envelopes, sheet music, catalogs, junk mail, maps -- whatever is around the house


Pinking shears (optional)

Glue stick

Strong double-stick tape

Sewing machine and contrasting thread, or needle and thread

Miniature brads or buttons



Cut along the back seam of the grocery bag with a scissor, then cut out the bottom. This will leave you with a piece of paper about 14 inches by 37 inches. For a larger piece, overlap two bags and adhere them with strong double-stick tape, or sew them together as you would fabric, with right sides (blank sides) together. Gently press the seam open with your fingers.

With scissors, rough cut circles from different types of paper. Don't try to make them perfect -- the funkier, the better. Cut some circles with pinking shears for a different look.

With the blank side facing up, smooth out the grocery bag and place the circles along imaginary lines across the paper. When you like the look, hold the circles in place with a small amount of glue stick. After the glue has dried, sew the circles in place with lines of straight stitches. If you don't have a sewing machine, tack down the circles by hand with needle and thread using a simple "X" stitch.

For the faux flower, cut several circles in incremental sizes. Poke a hole through the center with a pushpin and insert a brad to hold them together, or sew on a button. Adhere the flower to the box with double-stick tape.

Tips and tricks

This is a great project to do with kids, who can help cut out paper circles and glue them down. Older ones can man the sewing machine or do the hand sewing.

Instead of circles, try various shapes, and layer them.

Use fabric scraps instead of, or in addition to, the paper ones. Incorporate photocopies of pictures of the gift recipient.

Use decorative machine embroidery stitches if available, or vary between straight and zigzag stitches.

Stein is a Times staff writer and author of the new Quarry Books title "Re-Bound: Creating Handmade Books From Recycled and Repurposed Materials."

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