Have you ever had the opportunity to design patterns for the gift bag industry? In this post we’ll explore how you can begin to create pattern designs for gift bags.

We recently had the honor of sharing MaryJane Mitchell’s hour long presentation on creating pattern designs for the gift bag industry with our Textile Design Lab members. MaryJane is one of our industry experts within the Lab and has tons of experience designing for this market, and particularly gift bags for children and baby. Because this presentation was so inspiring and informative, we wanted to share a few key takeaways and current trends for anyone interested in designing for gift bags!

Key Takeaways of Gift Bag Pattern Design

  • Present your work in collections–most gift bag companies want to see four bags that work well together and could be shown side by side on the sales floor.
  • 13″ high x 10.5″ wide, with side gussets of 5.25″ wide, is a standard size for a regular “medium” sized gift bag. This is typically the format MaryJane uses to present designs, but gift bags can come in smaller and larger sizes and different manufacturers may have different size requests. She is also expected to design a gift tag to go with each bag, which could be a circle, square, heart shape, etc.
  • A typical gift bag royalty is 3-3.5% of sales. For a smaller, higher end company 5-6% is possible, but typically fewer bags will be sold. MaryJane says it often works out better to be designing for a company that sells to mid-range stores such as Ross or Target, where more bags will be sold and you can make more money.
  • As a textile or pattern designer you might be used to working in RGB color mode, but for gift bags, which are printed on paper, files should be set up in CMYK. MaryJane recommends using colors from Pantone’s CMYK Uncoated swatches which come pre-loaded in Illustrator and Photoshop.
All patterns by Crystal Kruger for Pattern Observer Studio

Gift Bag Themes

MaryJane was kind enough to share some pattern design themes that her real-life gift bag clients are currently asking for, which is such a wonderful insight into this industry! Here is just a sample:


  • Traditional/Classic – plaids/poinsettias/botanicals/evergreens/Santa/Christmas trees/snowflakes/candy canes/peppermints/wreaths/stockings


  • Mother’s Day – floral wreaths


  • Pastel colorways, no faces – just icons – rattles, onesies, diapers, storks, mobiles, typography

Every Day:

  • Rainbows, Clouds, Tie Dye
  • Cats (illustration/not photo real)
  • Bicycles (illustration/not photo real)
All patterns by Crystal Kruger for Pattern Observer Studio

Gift Bag Trends

Michelle also pinpointed the following three pattern design trends for the gift and paper market which are expected to emerge in 2021. As it sometimes takes a year or two for bags to be released now is the time to jump on these trends!

1. Handcrafted – Try exploring collage, or hand-drawn motifs from nature like animals and flowers paired with calligraphy fonts. The aesthetic here is a bit romantic and embraces imperfection–a visible human touch is central to the charm of this trend!

2. 1980s and 1990s – Bold color combinations and motifs that tap into a buyer’s sense of nostalgia are key here. Think cassette tapes, toys, gaming devices and other pop culture references, and don’t be afraid to mix and match fonts for a playful effect.

3. Mystic Easter – this trend offers a “mystical direction that takes inspiration from both religious themes and spring solstice.” Trend forecasting site WGSN suggests a “focus on subtle religious references, using Christian iconography and ancient rune symbols” and to make use of “layered colours and transparencies to create eyecatching patterns.” If hand-done textures are in your wheelhouse, try using “engraved and embossed techniques to add tactility to motifs” (or you can mimic these effects digitally.)

Want to learn more about the gift bag market? This month our Textile Design Lab members will be designing a collection of gift bags using MaryJane’s presentation and the provided trends as inspiration. You can take part by joining us in the Lab here!

At Pattern Observer we strive to help you grow your textile design business through our informative articles, interviews, tutorials, workshops and our private design community, The Textile Design Lab.

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