GiveWrap in the Wild

October 21, 2014

Since our first GiveWrap event, last August, GiveWraps have been gently yet inexorably transforming the culture of disposable gift wrap into one of reciprocal giving of treasured wrapping cloths.

Made by Aisha

There is another GiveWrap workshop hosted by Needleworks Collective scheduled in Adelaide for November 8. Details are available on the Needleworks Collective site.

The GiveWrap project got a shoutout from Heather Ordover on CraftLit recently…folks just seem get the GiveWrap idea. 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.

And in the wilds of the interwebs, GiveWraps are appearing.

IMG_20140928_161321This beauty is by Diana from Jacksonville, Alabama, USA.

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A post shared by @ pwpthalo on

This is made by Polly from Cambridge, UK. She is a printmaker.

This is another GiveWrap by Polly, this one overprinted on a lace tablecloth.

Now, Polly has a cousin Katherine who lives in dear old Berwick-upon-Tweed, near Edinburgh.  They decided to collaborate on some GiveWraps. So Katherine used some of Polly’s prints and combined them with other fabrics.

And all wrapped up…

I got to have some lovely email chat with Katherine and she agreed to share the backstory…

Polly is an artist, and does fabric prints, and I’m a knitter, stitcher, spinner…. So my patchwork incorporates Polly’s prints. We’ve never worked together before, so you’ve not only inspired us to make GiveWraps, but to work together. It is a real voyage of pleasurable discovery.

…my GiveWraps are very tied up with my Australian grandmother because they are fabrics deeply associated with her.  She loved to wear flamboyant colours, and wore a lot of batik prints.  When she died (some 30 years ago), I got a lot of these old dresses and remodelled them for myself.  They are nearly worn out now – soft as soft, but tear easily.  So they are perfect for GiveWraps.

When she came to the Uk, she married a rich Leicester businessman, and she started to have glamorous dresses made by a dressmaker.  My acquisitive grandmother (a trait I’ve clearly inherited) begged all the dressmaker’s scraps from other clients’ dresses, so lots of beautiful silks and satins came our way too.  It is the mixture of the batiks and silks that feature in my GiveWraps.  The emotional stories behind fabrics and old re-used clothes are so deeply important.

You can see more from Polly and Katherine on Intagram #givewrap or in the Needleworks Collective gallery. Their story encapsulates the vision we had for the GiveWrap project and the layers of meanings that become invested in the cloths. I feel like each GiveWrap needs a wee blurb attached so that everyone can know its story.

So why don’t you make one? The instructions are here. Send us pics and stories…we just love them.



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  1. I love these GiveWraps! They each have their own character. I agree that they deserve to have a blurb attached. It’s lovely to hear Polly’s story. I’m planning to make some GiveWraps for Christmas, perfect for wrapping Shanghai Lil & The Scarlet Fez soaps.

  2. Congratulations, Rebecca. This is amazing. I wanted to make one for the hat I recently gave my friend but ran out of time to do so. I even had the scrap fabric that I wanted to use ready to be sewn! The wraps you are showing here are true works of art though. I now think my first one will be for a gift to my mother, who is an obvious recipient as she already uses sewn cloth bags for gifts and embraces the re-use principle widely. I am going to make it a point to make a few for Christmas gifts as well. Thanks for the inspiration.

  3. What fun and inspiration…… I need to get gifts I can WRAP!!
    Great colour combinations and I have sent this far and wide…never buy throwaway paper again. OK, I have to admit, some of my ‘wrappings’ are newspaper, like in a foreign language, just to keep people guessing 😉

  4. These are so beautiful! The running stitch on that first one is so inspiring – sending me for my crewel cottons straight away. And all the printing! We’ve always used cloth for wrapping – most often pillowcases but we have a large assortment of specially made Christmas bags too. For presents for each other we pop the present into a pillowcase straight from the linen cupboard and then put it back afterwards. For friends I usually make them a special pillowcase for their present so they can keep it. But now – I’m inspired to make some wraps too – just because they are so pretty and there are so many lovely things we could do. Thank you!

  5. Brilliant story, Rebecca, made more so by the fact of folks coming together to make a mindful object. I will jump on this bandwagon!

    I thought of you and the Needlework’s Collective this past weekend. I ran into a book while on holiday made up of stories about people and the clothing they keep: Worn Stories by Emily Spivack. You may find that Ms. Spivack is a kindred textile spirit. (

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