Thursday, September 24, 2009

Gift Wrap 101 ~ Lesson Two

Gift Wrap Lesson Two - How to measure, cut, and fold edges with no visible tape showing. If you missed Gift Lesson One click here for a look at what tape to use, it does make all the difference and is an essential tip. This gift box also shows the easy use of 2 somewhat-unmatched ribbons and how they can work with the right gift wrap colour. I will show you easy ribbon tying in this series ahead. A friend told me today when it comes to gift wrapping, she is always too matchy-matchy, study your supplies and look outside the colour box. This package is certainly helped with it's intense boost of topper colour in vibrant coral. Look for little items like this fragranced silk sachet as package embellishments. Makes the gift smell heavenly too, just another sense other than visual to make a gift more special.

This is the type of blog post that has the risk of making me look obsessive. I assure you I am not. It just happens to be what I do for a living these days so for me there is no such thing as being too particular. Gift wrapping should first and foremost be a pleasure. A creative task where the result is responsible for passing along the emotion attached to your gift. This is one technique that will get you started in measuring for gift wrap. I say one because truthfully I am showing my box upside down to show you measuring and once a gift box is filled I do not flip it over. My gifts are layered,wrapped and laid in a precise order so flipping the box would jumble the contents more than necessary. I actually do my fold to the back to accommodate a filled box but it is a more difficult technique so we will get back to that only if you tell me you need it. It is a good trick when you are dealing with a package and contents are delicate or fragile. Start by placing your box on the paper so you have one clean edge that doesn't require cutting. As a guide these side edges are just a tad more than the halfway point of your box height. This is the part where most have trouble, they just leave too much paper on the sides and it becomes awkward to fold crisply. It can be trimmed after if you have too much side paper, but it can be awkward so better to be precise as possible ahead of this step. Some place their box in the center ( I don't know why) and cut both sides, do this and you lose any hope of having those cut-off strips to use later.

Just by habit, I always cut on the right and that dimension is the same as your left. This leaves you with a nice size cut-off that we will discuss saving and using in a multitude of ways. I have already checked that the length is enough to cover the box with a bit of extra. But do not cut this length yet, just make sure you have the proper length and we will get to this step soon. As a guide, your length is the box size plus about 3"- 4". As an example, this box is 6 . 5" across by 4" high so total paper length would be 6.5" + 6.5" + 4" + 4" + 4" extra = 24" - 25" length. This is obviously more important to check if you have the size restriction in sheet paper (usually 20" x 28) not so much if it is a full roll unless the box is huge, huge. Some like to use those handy paper cutter tools but I should point out that they seem to work better on thinner paper, they seem to start-snag on better quality gift wrap or on a heavier or classic laid quality. I find I have better control with a good pair of sharp scissors but will use the paper cutter tool at Christmas when I am using larger rolls.

I should also point out at this time that I am not nearly as precise as you might imagine. I doubt my right-sided scissor line is exactly straight nor do I worry about it that much. I think the more you worry about it while the task is at hand the more likely you are to wobble with your scissors. Be decisive in your action and you will get close enough. Your edges are going to be folded up and tidy when we are done so no need to get obsessive about getting a perfectly straight cutting line. It is certainly a task that gets better with practise so use newsprint to repeat the action until you feel reasonably ready to cut into a good paper. If still nervous, always leave a bit more on the sides and you can trim closer before you finish. And if you are really, really nervous, mark your lines with a faint pencil line and yardstick before cutting. Better to be safe than sorry.

Your first piece of double-sided tape is on the underside and holding your sheet so you can move on with this gift wrap. Note that I am not folding a finish edge, for a good reason in this particular case. I am using the clean edge (uncut) so it's already perfectly straight. This particular paper is a heavier weight so I am trying to minimize the bulk of 2 folded edges on top of each other. If you are cutting both ends as you would in a roll and the paper is thinner, then you may want to fold both edges for a more finished look.

Bring the other side up and over and trim off the excess. You can see (look closely near the black handle) my extra 2"-4" of paper I am leaving. I need that for folding the crisp finish edge that will be the underside of this box.

Once the excess rear paper is trimmed off then fold your finish edge and here is the important part........

Place small pieces of double-sided tape on the inside to hold this edge down. Why? It will make your side folding that much easier in the end. Trust me on this. That edge is going to want to move when you get to the sides and that is where it can be frustrating in doing these finish details. My finish edge fold is approximately 2", wider than you might think necessary, but I like to leave myself a little leverage and room for the line of tape shown in the next step.

I use pieces of double-sided tape along the box length, don't make the mistake of going past the box length and taping the side paper portion that still has to be folded. It is going to help you maintain the side folding so it is important. If anything, I think the problem is that people don't use enough tape and all those gaps cause a messy look. If it is not perfectly smooth, remember my earlier comment, double-sided tape can be generally lifted up and placed back into a smoother position. Do the proper prep and your gift wrapping efforts will become surprisingly easy.

An underside with a nice crisp folded finish edge and no visible tape.

This isn't the only way to fold in the sides, but I do find gently pushing on the center seems to move the paper into natural angled folds. Use your hand or a folding bone to make these edges as crisp as possible. Again, practise this because it is repetition that will make your folding automatic and decisive. It results in a beautifully crisp folded edge, the true mark of a good gift wrapper.

Don't be stingy with the double-sided tape. Use what you need to hold the paper down well. Remember, the beauty of double-sided tape is that no one is going to see it, so tape away. By this point they are going to be impressed with your skill, the tape is the last thing they will notice. You can see I use two longer pieces on the angle instead of one small piece just at the top. NOTICE THAT YOU ARE TAPING ON THE INSIDE OF THE FOLDED FLAP......EVERYWHERE. Using more tape and in better positions will eliminate those somewhat-sloppy side gaps. Fold your bottom side up , then top one over.

Do a final fold on the flap and yes, more tape on the inside to hold it down nicely. How much tape will depend on the thickness of your paper.

Voila, no more visible tape!

Coming up ~ Gift Wrap 101 ~ Lesson Three
How to do a four-sided ribbon tie with flat bottom and no wobbly bottom.

All photos by Sande Chase ~ A Gift Wrapped Life


  1. Oh my darling giftwrapping guru. Thank you so much for including the photo's with this. I love to see how to do a thing too. You are just great. Okay line up the presents, I'm ready ... okay maybe after the next lesson.

  2. This is great, Sande! I love that you are being so detailed in your steps, because I tend to go back and re-read; the pictures are so helpful, too. Eagerly awaiting the next post!

  3. Great tutorial, everyone would love to receive one of your beautifully wrapped gifts, Have a sweet day!x

  4. I will be back for part 3 Sande....xv

  5. Dear Sande~
    Always refreshing over here! Your lessons are to be taught here for sure~ Your wrapping is beautiful and as many have already said, the wrapping from YOU is a gift alone~

  6. I'm absolutely LOVING your "how to" posts and I can't wait for your next installment on ribbon tying! Keep up the great work, Sande!

  7. Sande-I too am really enjoying this series.

  8. Hello!

    I found you while doing research for my own blog about gift wrapping ( There probably aren't many of these out there!

    I am so glad to see your how-tos! I enjoyed your other posts but these rather practical ones are wonderful. Reading about your zeal for double-sided tape is making me curious to try it.

    Thanks again for sharing...always a pleasure to find someone else who loves gift wrapping!


  9. Hello ... I stumbled upon your site some months ago, and every so often come back for a visit. What a delight! I also love creative gift wrapping and feel inspired when I look at your site. Thanks for sharing your expertise.

  10. Your photos and helpful tutorials are delightful! Thank you so much for sharing.

  11. Thank you! It was very helpful!! :D

  12. Great series Sande. I love the choice of ribbons on this paper, it is stunning,kathysue


Your comments are such a lovely addition to my day. Thank you.


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