Transforming a shirt sleeve into a gift bag – A great way to upcycle!

Yesterday, I showed you how to use the cuff from a shirt or blouse to make a gift card holder and embellish it with decorative stitching using the Brother Innov-is NQ700 machine.

Gift card holder made from a shirt cuff

Today, I’ll show you how to make a gift bag using a shirt sleeve. We’ll also use some decorative stitches and character stitches to personalize the gift bag. Here’s a picture of the operation panel at the front of the machine showing the keys that we’ll be using.

Keys on the operation panel for today’s project

Let’s get started!

Cut the shirt sleeve 6″ to 8″ above the cuff.

Cut the shirt sleeve 6″ to 8″ above the cuff.

Press the Character key (the one with the big letter A). This brings up 5 different character sets (Gothic, Handwriting, Outline, Cyrillic and Japanese) so you can choose the one that’s most appropriate for you. All the character stitches are well illustrated in the Quick Reference Guide book that comes with the Brother NQ700. You can also see the letters on the top cover of the machine.

Character letters and symbols on the top cover of the machine

Each letter is numbered. Press the number of the letter you want on the keypad and the letter appears on the LCD screen. You can save the name by pressing the memory key button (it looks like a pocket with an arrow going into it). To retrieve the saved stitches, press the saved pattern key (it looks like a pocket with an arrow coming out of it).

As you can see, I’ve saved the name John so it can be stitched on the gift bag. I also added some straight stitches to the design before saving it.

The name John shown on the LED screen

Using one of the design lines on the cuff fabric, stitch your chosen name. As you get close to the end of your stitching line, itʼs nice to be able to use the single/repeat key. This means that the machine stops sewing when it comes to the end of the name. What a great feature this is on the Brother NQ700 machine!

The name John stitched along the length of the cuff

You can also add some extra lines of decorative stitching to further enhance the cuff. I used the SA186 open toe foot so I could see exactly where to stitch.

Finishing the gift bag

Use a rotary cutter and ruler to trim the cut edge.

Trim the cut edge of the fabric.

With right sides together and having the buttoned opening in the center, sew along the bottom edge using the quarter inch foot with guide.

Sew along the bottom opening

Turn right side out and you have a wonderful, personalized gift bag! These bags can be made larger or smaller just by cutting the sleeve at a different length.

My shirt sleeve was missing one button, so I decided to remove all the buttons and sew on some bright red ones to make this even more Christmassy.

Finished gift bags made from upcycled shirt sleeves

I’ve been using the Brother NQ700 machine for just a few weeks, but I’m very impressed with the stitch quality, the number of built-in features it has and how easy it is to operate. This would be the perfect machine for a beginning quilter or to take to classes or retreats. I hope you enjoyed learning about this machine and making a few projects for the upcoming holiday season!

This is part 5 of 5 in this series

Go back to part 4: Upcycling a shirt to make a gift card holder – smart and reusable!

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