GiveWrap, an end to wrapping paper

August 30, 2014

Today the Needleworks Collective held their first event, a GiveWrap workshop in Melbourne town. Needleworks Collective is a small craftivist group of friends: Emily, Aisha and I.  We have been making stuff together for a few years now and discovered we had a shared interest in making things that could have a bigger life somehow, maybe change minds or make the world a little kinder.

GiveWrap is a sweet but powerful project that aims to transform the culture of disposable gift wrap into one of reciprocal giving of treasured wrapping cloths.

by Emily

Inspired by the traditional wrapping clothes of Japan and Korea, GiveWraps are a unique expression of their maker and contemporary life.  They might be embroidered, appliqued, pieced, quilted or printed.

GiveWraps are given with a gift but not returned to the giver. Instead, they have a life of their own and are given and regiven continually. GiveWraps inspire us to make something that has no monetary value. It is not made for sale. Its value lies in the giving and increases the longer it remains in circulation.

GiveWraps can be the size of a pocket handkerchief up to the size of a bunny rug and use scraps and leftover bits of fabric, doilies, old table clothes, vintage pillow cases, really anything you have to hand.

Thank you to all those lovely folks who came today and made a GiveWrap.  We had a merry and productive throng.  These are some of the beautiful GiveWraps that were made today.

You could make a GiveWrap too. Here are some handy instructions which are also available as a PDF on the Needleworks Collective website.

First assemble your materials

Use what you have already.  A GiveWrap is a perfect way to use small scraps, bits of braid, a pretty pillowcase, anything really. You will also need a sewing machine or sewing needle, scissors or rotary cutter, pins and tape measure.

Decide what size GiveWrap you will make

A good size range seems to be from the size of gentleman’s handkerchief to a baby blanket.  You might be limited by the materials you have to hand. There is no correct size.

Cut out the backing and attach your label

We printed our labels onto inkjet printable fabric for quilters or if use your best writing, you could use a laundry marker on calico. Either hand stitch or machine stitch the label to the backing. Make sure to include a name, location, date made.  You can download our printable labels from Needleworks Collective.

IMG_3881Assemble the front

This might be pieced from small pieces, embellished with braid or embroidery or screen printed.

IMG_3894Joining the front to the backing

Lay the front on top of the backing, right sides facing each other. Then pin the two layers together. Sew a seam around the edges of the GiveWrap, remembering to leave a gap for turning inside out. Clip the corners and turn inside out, making sure you push the corners out neatly.  Hand stitch the opening closed and press with an iron.

IMG_3893Take a pic and post

Take a photograph of your new GiveWrap and post it on Instagram with the hashtag #givewrap. You could spot your GiveWrap in a faraway place when you search later under #givewrap or it might pop up in your feed like a message in a bottle.  You can also send us a pic for the GiveWrap gallery at

Here are some of the lovelies, all wrapped up and you can see more pics of GiveWraps by following me on Instagram where I am Rebeccaspindle.

Give away and make another

Please do make one, indeed, make many. You might consider making a set of GiveWraps that circulate just within your family or that you use especially at Christmas time.

You can sign up for updates on other Needleworks Collective projects here. No worries about being inundated with emails…we move slowly but with purpose!

IMG_3827Keep them free!







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  1. What an absolutely wonderful idea! I love how each wrap can develop its own story throughout its travels, AND, it would be the perfect kind of project to practice some new quilt blocks on a smaller scale … Thank you so much for sharing this and I can see some of these being made at our house in the near future.

  2. Last night Rufus and I watched ‘The Story of Solutions’ (produced by the folks who made the story of stuff). It was about how the world needs game changing solutions – the current game being about ‘more’ and the suggested new game being about ‘better’ instead. I love that these simple, beautiful hand-made and loving creations are game changers. Less ‘stuff’ to prop up the game called GDP and better creations to enhance and enrich our lives. xo H

  3. They are all so beautiful! I’m so chuffed about our project. Thanks for being amazing and inspiring. Both of you.



      1. Thanks Anne-Margaret. Sad I missed the event and all of you but reading all these comments is so lovely. I’m glad it has stricken a chord with so many of you.

        PS Your stripy GiveWrap is gorgeous!

  4. Well done, Rebecca! This is a great idea and well-executed. When I was a kid my mom would buy big rolls of brown paper and we would make our own wrapping for presents with stamps made from potatoes or with drawings, but these days we are probably too lazy and so have dispensed with wrapping paper altogether. Sometimes my mom will send me something that is wrapped in a handmade bag that I will then use to carry my lunch to work or for carrying my knitting or something like that. Most recently it was a quilted bag made from old curtain fabric! I like your idea and will try my hand at making one.

  5. Great idea, Rebecca!! All 3 of you sound like shakers and movers and maybe you all can get a
    Wool Board going in your area to re-open a small mill for you.

  6. That is so inspiring! Thank you. Somewhere I have a sheet of different styles of wraps used by the Japanese people and you have encouraged me to DIG it out 🙂 Love your Manshirt wrap…thinking outside of the box!
    I remember now, it was on a post by Heidi Swanson of Cookbooks 101……happy hunting!!

  7. Another fabulous idea. You are full of them!! The GiftWraps are gorgeous. Off to follow you on Instagram so I can see where all the pretties end up 🙂

  8. Awesome!! I love these!! I was planning to make cloth shopping bags to stick Christmas presents into this year but these are more fun because they are actually made for gift wrapping. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you saw a GiveWrap you made in a faraway place.

  9. Count me inspired too! I have never been a fan of disposable gift wrap. I also haven’t ever been much of a seamstress but my guild has helped teach me a few things and I can’t wait to make some of these for Christmas. I love craft posts like this that just set my mind racing with all the possibilities, the aroma of creation maybe 🙂 Thank you!

  10. Just love this idea! Wish I could have been there to join in…
    I am going to try and make a whole bunch to give at Christmas…going to encourage my boys to give it a go too…thanks for being so inspiring! (as always 🙂 )

  11. I am a part-time printmaker always looking for non-monetary ways to circulate work, and am very inspired by this! Do you have any advice about where to get inkjet printable fabric? Polly

    1. Dear Polly, any quilting shop will have some. Quilters use it to print their quilt labels or to print images/photos onto fabric to piece into a quilt.

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