Thursday, 1 December 2016

Christmas Santa Sacks - 1st Day of Christmas

Hello, Janet here with my post for the 1st Day of Christmas.The first of twelve posts of Christmas loveliness!

Last year I made drawstring cotton canvas Santa Sacks for the kids. This year I've been making more adult versions in hessian. These sacks don't have a drawstring, so need a band closure and a decorative bow.

I like simple, monochromatic designs and love the look of this sack with matt white flock on the hessian and just a few silver stars to highlight the design. In this post I'll take you through how to make one of these for yourself with designs and fonts from the Silhouette Design Store. There are quite a variety of postmark files in the store, I chose one that I thought complemented the tree design nicely.


Hessian Sack
White Flock Heat Transfer Material
Silver Glitter Heat Transfer Material
2" Wide Wired Ribbon
Hair Elastic
Teflon or Silicon Sheet
Iron or Heat Press
Postmark file by Anita McGee (#70631)
Line of Trees file by Echo Park (#14570)
LW Perfect Type font by Lori Whitlock (#55154)
Yellow Daisy font by Rivka Creations (#106927)


Firstly open the files for your postmark and main design in one design window. Measure your sack and arrange and resize the designs to your liking.

Don't be tempted to make the design too wide. Once there are presents inside the sack, the surface will be curved, and too large a design or message will be difficult to see or read. I recommend making the total design a little over one half of the width of the sack.

Using the Text functions type 'PLEASE DELIVER TO ...'. I chose the LW Perfect Type font for the lettering as it seemed most similar to the type of the postmark. Write your names in a script font. I used Yellow Daisy font which is favourite, but is a little too delicate for the rough surface. To compensate I made the script wider using the Offset function. I also did this for other text, to make it match the postmark a little better. I also added some silver stars to add a tiny highlight to the design.

Arrange, align and resize the lettering as you'll require it to look on the finished item. Sometimes it is useful to draw out the item, in this case, drawing a box the same size as the sack.

It can also be useful for yourself to take a screen shot at this point for reference later.

TIP: HOW TO TAKE A SCREEN SHOT - It's easy if you're on a desktop or laptop. Mac is Shift, Cmd, 4 then draw a box around it, Enter. For recent Windows versions search for and use the Snipping Tool. Hilary has more detail on this in her Polar Christmas Bear Post.


In order to make the most economical use of the heat transfer material I normally move the pieces around to take up the least amount of space. If you haven't used heat transfer material before you might like to leave the pieces in place, and press from one piece, this is easier to handle and align, but wasteful on material. Either way you'll want to put weeding boxes around the shapes. I draw shapes using the rectangle  or ellipse tool and weld the shapes together.  For irregular shapes, like the tree design, I use the polygon drawing tool. As long as you click on the first red dot at the end it will make a complete shape.

Now, and most importantly, group everything and FLIP THE COMPLETE DESIGN! I won't mention the times that I've forgotten!

Group all the Flock elements and select the cut settings for Silhouette Heat Transfer - Flock and adjust the blade to the correct setting. Carry out a test cut if you haven't used the material before. This is one material that I find that I don't need to deviate from the recommended settings (haven't tried it out with the auto-blade yet though, so that may be different).

Once you've cut the flock, group, flip and add a bounding box to the stars. Select cut settings for Glitter Heat Transfer.


Place your material in your Silhouette shiny side down. I always use a mat, but plenty of folks seem to cut HTV without. Weed the cut shapes within the bounding boxes.

If you have arranged your pieces to save space (and not left them to apply on one sheet, in which case you'd just remove the material surrounding the boxes), trim the boxes with scissors, ensuring that no flock remains on the edges.


Line the inside of your sack with a teflon mat, silicon paper, or (as I have done) an old tea-towel (you can just see the design through the fibres).  Use a ruler to work out where to place your design. I start from the bottom and place the lowest part of the design 5" from the bottom of the sack. I measure where the centre of the sack is across the width and match it up with the centre of the design (just fold the design pieces in half to locate their centres).

You can apply the pieces with a heat press or iron. Here I have used an iron to show you that it is entirely possible. The secret to applying HTV to rough surfaces is ... PRESSURE! You need to push down firmly so make sure that you have a good firm base to press on. I use a very thick wooden chopping board, some folks even use the floor (with some heat-proof protection).

Now, as I have a number of different HTV pieces, I apply the first one by pressing with the iron just long enough to make the backing stay in place.  Then I move on to the next piece, using my teflon sheet to protect the earlier pieces. Once they are all on I press each area for 10 seconds or so pressing HARD!

Then I check the corner of one of the pices to see if it has adhered. If not I press for a few seconds longer.

If you are lucky you can pull the backing away with no problem. Even so, do it slowly and carefully as bits that haven't stuck well can stretch and spoil your design.

Smaller pieces can be more problematic. With these I fold the peeled backing back on itself and pull slowly keeping the fingers of my other hand (or a flat tool like a ruler) on the newly revealed part so that neither part lifts from the ironing surface (you don't see my other hand here as I was using it to take the photo)! Stubborn parts might require the help of a fingernail to start them separating from the backing. Just make sure that you don't stretch any of them.

Once all the design is revealed I press again all over the design for a few seconds with the non-stick sheet in place. Finally, remove the tea towel from inside the sack.

EXTRA TIPS (for really stubborn bits)!
For stubborn areas, try to remove any loose fibres from the surface before pressing. Use anything sticky to do this; tape, lint roller or used pieces of carrier sheet should do the job.
If a small piece lifts from the hessian after pressing, carefully pull off any stray fibres from the adhesive surface and re-press.


The hessian sacks that I have used so far this season are flat and do not have a drawstring.  I close my sacks with a hair elastic (conveniently made in hessian colour, presumably to match blond hair). I attach a double bow to the elastic and the sack is complete.

I hope you'll try using HTV on Hessian or Jute, Burlap or cotton canvas. I've seen HTV designs used on bags and lots of home decor items - not just for Christmas!

I can't wait to see what Christmas project the 2nd Day of Christmas will bring. Don't miss it!

Bye for now,

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  1. Hi Janet, thank you for another fantastic tutorial and your very useful advice for adhering the HTV to Hessian/Burlap. I planned a crafty day today and this is the perfect project !

    1. Thank you for leaving a comment, have a great crafting day!

  2. Such a great project and fabulous detail.

  3. Thanks Laine. These sacks look really lovely in real life - difficult to photograph well though.

  4. Excellent tutorial Janet. Love the design on the sacks. Shabneez xxx

  5. Thank you for taking the time to do this its fab. Thanks again sharon stewart x

    1. You are welcome Sharon, have you started working on Christmas items already?