How to make a drawstring bag.

I recently completed a part-time course in screen printing. Whilst the course was really good, I was not! However, my designer friends: Rose, Nat and Jenny were naturals!

Having been donated a sewing machine by her gran, Jenny’s been practicing making her screen printed fabrics into little drawstring bags…with not much success by the sounds of things. I’m absolutely not doubting Jenny’s ability, more the pattern she is following!

So here you go Jen, while my screen printing may be poor, I can sure help out with the sewing side with this really easy how to.

How to make a little/or big (it’s up to you) drawstring bag…

You need:

  • A pattern (i.e. rectangle piece of paper) to whatever size you want your bag to be (mine is 12″ x 10″) so my bag will be slightly smaller if I take into account a seam allowance.
  • Piece of fabric for your outer bag (flowery)
  • Piece of contrasting fabric for your lining (stripy)
  • Two bits of ribbon (or extra fabric if want matching) for your drawstrings
  • Thread and a sewing machine
  • Ruler and chalk/something to mark on the fabric
1. Cut your fabric.
Using the pattern, cut two pieces of your outer (flowery) and two of your lining (stripy) so they are all the same size.
2. Sew outer pieces to lining.
Place one piece of the outer fabric, right sides together, to the lining fabric.

Pin and sew across the top (the side with the narrowest width), I left about 0.5cm seam allowance.

Iron out the seam.
3. Place bag sides together. You should now have the two sides of the bag, with outer joined to lining. Like this…

Place the two pieces right sides together with the same fabrics together (so flowery on top of flowery, and stripy on top of stripy). Pin the two together at the middle where the outer joins the lining.

4. Mark the channel for your drawstrings. From the seam line connecting the outer and lining fabric, measure 1.5cm, make a mark. Then, from this line measure another 1 cm (this distance can be larger depending on how big you want channel to be), mark on the fabric.

Do this either side of the seam line, and both edges.

Pin the rest of the fabric together, so the two outer fabrics together and the two lining fabrics, just so it stays still while your sewing around the whole thing.
5. Sew the bag together. Start from the bottom of the lining fabric, and sew all around the bag, stopping at your first [drawstring channel] mark (1), then starting again at the second mark (2). Sew across the seam line and stop again at your third mark (3), starting again at the fourth (4). And continue around until you get to the marks on the other side (do the same here). So you are leaving a small gap on the outer and lining fabrics on both sides of the bag. These are the gaps your drawstrings will feed through. I think the photos below will help make this clearer.

Stop just before you get to where you started sewing, leave a small gap of about 1-1.5 inches at the bottom of the lining – this will be where you turn your bag inside out.
Iron out the seams.
6. Corners. At this point you could leave it as it is and jump to the turning the right way round stage (Point 7). However, I like to put corners in the bottom of my bag; the next few steps show you how to do this…
At each corner, from the seam, mark about 1 inch (again this can be different depending how big you want your corners to be).

At your corners, pinch both sides of the fabric and open out, so your marks touch.

Draw a line across the corner, and sew, snip the end.

Do the same to all four corners, and they should end up looking something like this…

7. Turn the bag right way round. Through the small gap you left in the lining, turn the bag the right way round.

You should have something like this…

8. Hand sew the little gap in the lining. And fold the lining into the outer. Iron.
10. Finish your drawstring channel. Match up the two holes on either side (remember those gaps you left when sewing around the bag?). I use a pencil or the end of an unpicker to make sure they match up. Pin to hold in place.
Now, top stitch all around the top of the bag; once above your holes and another below.

Mines a bit wobbly!

11. Thread your drawstrings. Your nearly done! Pop a safety pin in the end of one of your drawstrings (this makes threading it through much easier!) and thread into one of the holes in the side of the bag, thread all the way around until you come out of the same hole.
Repeat on the other side using your second drawstring (I’ve used a different colour ribbon to show this a bit clearer).
Tie a knot in both ends of the drawstrings.
Ta da…you have one completed drawstring bag!
Hope this is clear, please ask me any questions if you get stuck along the way x

3 thoughts on “How to make a drawstring bag.

    • Hi Elaine, as long as you made the two gaps in either side of the bag (as from Step 4.) for the drawstring to pull out through, and on both fabrics (i.e. here it’s the stripy and the flowery), then this bag should aready be reversible 🙂

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