Christmas 2020: a chip off the old block

Fabric present bags – the ultimate in Christmas present wrapping

Christmas in our household (Tier 2, Tier 3 on Boxing Day) has come with minimal trappings this year, Christmas cards slipped between books on the bookshelf being the main attraction, along with a couple of pretty red origami stars fashioned out of a thin layer of wood on the mantlepiece. On Christmas Day, presents from the family consisted entirely of brown cardboard boxes splashed with the names John Lewis, Space NK, Muji and Oliver Bonas (small triumph, I don’t think any had Amazon!) . Daughter No 2, from far off Cambodia, apologised for the lack of festive wrapping and insisted we didn’t open her brown packages until Christmas Day, so we just embraced the brown wrapping theme and didn’t open anything packed in that way until Christmas Day. All wonderfully enjoyable and strangely liberating  – for a one off!

Fabric Christmas present bags

Meanwhile in London (Tier 3 about to become Tier 4, the newest and most restricted of tiers), Daughter No 3 was having none of a brown paper and cardboard Christmas. In a labour of love for the family and in pursuit of as ecologically sound a Christmas as possible in a house where plastic Lego sets loom large, she spent most spare time in December (and probably November too) making reusable fabric packaging. By email I asked if she had made ‘seamed’ bags, assuming she’d opted for those fabric squares which you tie into rabbits’ ears, a manner of present wrapping beloved of the practical and aesthetic Japanese. Feigning not to understand me, she replied she had used french seams on the bags for the foot of the children’s beds but had used ordinary seams in all the other bags which, being lined wouldn’t be visible anyway. Lined present bags!!!! I boomed back in shock by email much in the manner of Lady Bracknell’s “A handbag”. She later admitted in a phone call that she had caught herself wondering why such attention to detail, an idea swiftly followed by a dreadful suspicion of ‘channelling mother’ ! Channelling mother, my foot, if I were going to make fabric present bags – which idea I have dabbled with – I wouldn’t dream of going so far as lining them! I am still agog at such industry. But what a brilliant idea – little of that de-crunching of wrapping paper as you smooth out the recyclable and separate it from the metallic and unrecyclable  – and none of that loosing of your wedding ring in the process as I did when I sorted out the Christmas recycling in London last year!

Jolly fabric Christmas present bags

Today we woke to a snow covered world. Quite unexpected. By lunchtime, as I write, it has gone and everywhere is just wet and cold. We need go nowhere, though we should go for a walk. I shall continue with my Christmas present making – to be delivered goodness knows when. My husband has a vaccine booked for him on the 8th of January, so that’s promising. Daughter No 1 is now working in No 10 and we all have our fingers crossed this week will see parliament approve of the Brexit deal achieved on the 23rd/24th, so that the new year can be just that. The coming year suddenly feels more upbeat and positive.

Foot of bed Christmas present bags Imonogrammed and french seamed!)

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  1. Helen
    Posted December 28, 2020 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    Goodness those are lovely bags. I a, seriously considering something of this kind or perhaps both furoshiki cloths and bags next year and for presents in general. Your daughter has made a splendid job of them. Happy Christmas Mary. I so enjoy your blog and look forward to your entries. Mat 2021 bring you health and happiness.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted December 29, 2020 at 12:12 am | Permalink

      Daughter No 2 will be very happy to hear her handiwork has an admirer.
      Thank you Helen, for such lovely comments, about both the bags and the blog.

  2. Robina
    Posted December 29, 2020 at 5:20 am | Permalink

    Those bags are absolutely gorgeous and your daughter should be mighty proud of her industry. All the hard work will have been worth it as she can pull them out every Christmas for present wrapping. This is one I’m going to copy…perhaps without the french seams.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted December 29, 2020 at 10:12 am | Permalink

      Thanks, Robina. The family will certainly fell the benefit in future years with no last minute panic for wrapping paper – and maybe various of us can leisurely make a few more (without french seams and possibly unlined!).

  3. Janet Moore
    Posted December 29, 2020 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Those bags are gorgeous and well worth her effort. Her choice of fabrics and ribbons is beautiful.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted December 29, 2020 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      Great for daughter No 3 to find her labours appreciated by a wider audience. Thank you Janet.

  4. Posted December 29, 2020 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    I’m very impressed with the lined gift bags, yes. It would be all I could do to hem them, if it were me!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted December 30, 2020 at 12:18 am | Permalink

      umm, I know. I always make the mistake of expecting straightforward sewing like this to take no time at all – and of course, they always take much longer than I allow time for.

  5. ceci
    Posted December 31, 2020 at 1:36 am | Permalink

    Lovely bags and isn’t it fun to see one’s positive attributes (meticulous needlework in this case?) reflected by the children?

    How nice that your husband has a vaccination scheduled – I have only heard from one medical worker friend who has gotten one here.


    • Mary Addison
      Posted January 4, 2021 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, Ceci. Yes, it’s great to see offspring embracing sewing. I always used to think that it skipped a generation – if your mother sewed, you didn’t though you might well if your grandmother sewed!
      Very pleased that vaccination is underway, it gives such a boost to the new year.

  6. Posted December 31, 2020 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    “All wonderfully enjoyable and strangely liberating – for a one off!” — yes, indeed. A nice place to visit, 2020 (sometimes), but I don’t want to live there any more, thank you!

    I’m a big fan of furoshiki as they accommodate a wide variety of shapes and sizes plus bar the mitered corners they’re all just straight hems and you’re off and wrapping. But bags are next on my list, and your daughter’s are very handsome.

    Health and happiness in the New Year —

    • Mary Addison
      Posted January 4, 2021 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      Yes, Jeanne, 2020 will have a bit of a ring round it for all of us and I don’t think anyone will ever want to go through similar again.
      Glad you like the bags and hope you find the time to make your own.
      Thank you for your wishes for the coming year – I wish the same for you too.

  7. Amara Bray
    Posted December 31, 2020 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    Seeing the Oxford vaccine approved was a huge ray of hope for me yesterday. The more vaccines approved the better.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted January 4, 2021 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      Couldn’t agree more Amara. Fingers crossed our countries cope well with such a massive and daunting logistic task

  8. Nella Logan
    Posted January 1, 2021 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    I also enjoyed sewing some Japanese bags – Bento bags; too late for wrapping presents but I’m using them for keeping safe knitting projects. Your daughter’s bags are wonderful and I’m now inspired to make some more myself. Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2021, Mary

    • Mary Addison
      Posted January 4, 2021 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

      Gosh, I’m learning so much. I’ve just had to do a search to sort out the difference between furoshiki and bento bags.
      May the coming year be good for you, too, Nella.

  9. Anna
    Posted January 2, 2021 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    Merry Christmas and a happy and much improved new year!

    What beautiful bags. Some years ago my sister made me a set of a dozen enormous table napkins in charming Christmas robin fabric – more than slightly overestimating the grandiosity of my holiday entertaining. But I use them every year for the furoshiki approach to present wrapping – for immediate family only, requiring them all back of course!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted January 4, 2021 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

      Great to hear from you Anna.
      That is the thing about re-usable bags – you do want them back, so you definitely can’t use them for anyone believing in Father Christmas!
      I shall email you separately as I’ve been wondering what you’re doing now.

  10. Posted January 3, 2021 at 12:29 am | Permalink

    Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to you, Mary. I’m looking forward to another year of reading about your creative endeavours – and those of your talented daughters, too!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted January 4, 2021 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

      What a lovely thing to say, Austen. Thank you.
      I hope I can keep you interested!

  11. KAWANO0503
    Posted January 4, 2021 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    Thank you!!1

  12. Sally Coles
    Posted January 5, 2021 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    I’ve come in very late to the December blog entries, Mary, so too late to send Christmas greetings (goodness knows, I haven’t exactly been swamped with social activities to distract me, but…) – but how lovely are the bags! So much more enjoyable to gift wrap in those, than in paper and string, for both giver and recipient. Congrats to the daughter for her excellent efforts, which I’m sure must have been a real labour of love.
    As I write this, here we are beginning yet another period of lockdown, and sombre news of the ever-spreading mutant virus to counter all that vaccine optimism. Here’s hoping we can plough on through, and come out at the other end in good physical health, and with our sanity preserved…

    Happy New Year!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted January 5, 2021 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      Good to hear from you Sally.
      Thank you for telling me you love the bags.
      Best wishes for the coming year.

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