A Special Holiday Giveaway and a DIY Gift Bag Tutorial

It’s long overdue for me to express my appreciation to each of my readers and subscribers for your loyalty.  Your comments and encouragement are what keep me going.  Thank you so much for indulging me by reading my blog!

My First Ever Holiday Giveaway

As a special reader thank you, I am holding my first ever Holiday Giveaway, consisting of: (1) A personalized monogrammed gift bag handmade by yours truly and (2) a novel that begins and ends on Christmas Eve.

I got the idea for the giveaway when I started making these cute monogrammed drawstring gift bags (the tutorial is later in this post).

Holiday Giveaway: Monogrammed gift bag

They are lovely whether cinched or uncinched.

Holiday giveaway: Monogrammed gift bag

They are such a fun combination of rustic and glam.  And they are just the right size to hold a book.  One of my favorite holiday reads is Year of the Angels, by Erika Madden.

A historical fiction novel based on Erika’s childhood memories, the story begins on Christmas Eve 1944 and ends on Christmas Eve 1945 – with a year of changes and challenges between.

The story takes place in a small Bavarian village during World War II and is softly told from a child’s perspective.  The Lindner family’s love for one another sees them through intense hardships and heartbreak.

Holiday reading: Year of the Angels

Erika is my mom, so of course this story is very compelling to me personally because it’s part of my family history.  Erika so beautifully captures the magic of childhood during a difficult but simpler time – and reminds all of us to appreciate what we have now.

The winner can enjoy this fun holiday gift set: The bag and the signed novel Year of the Angels, or give it to someone special.

Holiday giveaway: Year of the Angels novel and gift bag

The bag will be monogrammed with the letter that the winner designates.

In addition, one runner-up will receive a signed copy of Erika’s most recent novel, Cries from the Fifth Floor.  It is a paranormal thriller – a suspenseful joy ride through the best and worst of New York City. The Big Apple is still a place where dreams come true for one small town girl – if she listens to the voices in her head!

Crie from the Fifth Floor

This novel is so much fun because the main character is a strong woman whose horizons expand as the story progresses.

Here is how to enter the giveaway:

Rules for the Giveaway:

  1. Follow me on my new Instagram page     Instagram   – and/or follow @mysweetcottage.com on Pinterest.
  2. After you follow My Sweet Cottage on social media, leave a comment on this blog post so I can enter you in the drawing.  Let me know if you want me to follow you back.
  3. Don’t worry.  I won’t be selling your name to anyone.  This isn’t that kind of giveaway.
  4. The winner and runner-up will be chosen at random.  Open to U.S. residents only – with my sincere apologies to my followers elsewhere.
  5. Enter before noon PST on Tuesday, December 1, 2015.  Winner and runner-up will be announced on this post on Wednesday, December 2.


  • Winner:  Jann Olson
  • Runner Up:  Jane Milliken

The Gift Bag Tutorial

Want to make your own muslin gift bag?  Here is a quick how to:


  • Heavier muslin fabric, washed, dried, and lightly ironed (leave a few creases for character), cut into 10″X12″ pieces
  • Ruffle yarn –  I used Coats Red Heart Boutique Sashay Boho Tambourine
  • Heavy garden twine
  • An alphabet stencil
  • Craft paint

You will also need a sewing machine, scissors, a tape measure and a small stencil paintbrush.

Materials for muslin gift bag DIY

The ruffle yarn, which I love and also used for this holiday gift wrap project, looks like lace when pulled apart – “unruffled,” if you will. It has a light dusting of tiny sequins on the bottom band, a very festive and elegant touch.

Ruffle yarn when unruffled and sewn onto the muslin bag.
Ruffle yarn when unruffled and sewn onto the muslin bag.

It is a bit of a challenge to keep it unruffled while sewing, but that is  the most difficult part of the project.  I just used a lot of pins.

The ruffle yarn is fun because of the color variations.  Each bag winds up being unique.

Finished muslin gift bags - monpgrammed

The bag is very simple to sew.  I can best show you how I did it with photos.  Just hover over any photo for instructions.

I used a combination of Dazzling Metallics Venetian Gold and Americana Light Avocado paint to get the tarnished gold look I wanted for the letters.

Monogrammed muslin drawstring gift bags

These little guys are easy to make.

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