gift tags: how to

I don’t really understand why, but I became completely obsessed with making gift tags a couple of years ago. They’re such simple, quickly-constructed pieces of functional art–I just love them. It happened organically–I like going to thrift stores, yard sales, and estate sales and I’d been picking up sewing trims and old books and magazines. Some of the images in these books were perfect when they were removed from the larger page, my eye was drawn to the detail contained in the single image–usually a profile picture. I quickly made an obscene amount and texted photos to my friend Jodi.

gift tags

gift tags close up

Jodi Land is a friend of mine from way back–we’ve known each other since 7th grade, when she started at Binnsmead and I was her student escort. We have been in and out of touch over the years but within the past 5 years we’ve discovered we share a lot of the same interests–one of which is acquiring very cool scrapbooking and papercrafting tools. Jodi’s husband is a soldier and I have found inspiration in her grace and strength. We started getting together with greater frequency (sounds like a prescription medication commercial…) when he was stationed in Iraq. I’ll admit I felt an obligation to support her but it wasn’t a purely altruistic endeavor–we have a kick-ass time together. We ship the kids off to family then shop til we drop…into stools at her excellent craft table…where we turn up the 80’s jams and basically do our own thing until we get too tired or too hungry to continue. I mean, I know she’s sitting across from me, and we might talk a little, but we’re both there to get our ‘craft’ on. Jodi is generally working on thank you gifts for her volunteers at the Fisher House while I’m working on stationery or gift tags–both of us testing out our new tools and ogling over our supplies. I’m not exaggerating when I say obsessed…and I’m not alone…

washing ribbons

soapy ribbons

Gift tags couldn’t be any easier to make, and if you use recycled materials the cost is fairly minimal. I pick up seam binding for ‘ribbon’, and although it’s usually still in the package, I always wash it first, prolly cause it looks so pretty when it’s hanging dry.

ribbon rackribbon rack upshot

Then I scour through my stack of old magazines and books, I especially love old children’s textbooks. Once I find the images I want I use a Marvy Uchida tag punch and line up the image until it’s just right. Many of the images I use are on thin paper, so I cut tags of scrap cardstock to shore up the tags. I like to use paper sample books from printshops. I use rub-on transfers for the “to” and “from”.

rub on transfers

Lastly, I use a crop-a-dile to attach an eyelet at the top of the tag. I thread a bit of ‘ribbon’ through the eyelet and the tag is complete.


I have made over 500 tags. Friends have supported my ‘habit’ by donating old books and magazines to the cause. People have asked if I make color copies of the images–I never have and I have no plans to start. Some of the images are super cool and I might regret not having copies, but I feel no draw to horde any of these. I love making gift tags.

Published in: on July 8, 2009 at 11:29 pm  Comments (7)  

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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Julie, you’re awesome and inspirational. Someday I hope to be you.

  2. I’m blushing. And I think of you when I write, wondering if I should put you on as an author so I can have you add spice (but not condiments) to my narrative. I admire your way with words and can hardly wait for the day your time is yours, the work you produce will impress on a very large scale. You rock, dear friend.

  3. You are so talented, Julie! I love these! Thank you for sharing!

    • aww…thank you Ms. Monique, you’re so sweet!

  4. Great post!!!, thanks.

  5. Thank you very much for teaching the gift tag class at the library. My husband, daughter and I all really enjoyed it!

    • Thanks for coming! It’s exciting to see other people enjoy papercrafting.

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