How to Sew a Drawstring Bag

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Whether you need to keep items from rolling around in your purse, or you want a unique gift bag that could be reused, sewing a drawstring bag could be the solution you’ve been looking for.

Recently, I made drawstring bags as part of my husband’s Christmas gifts this year as well as the gift bag for my mother’s birthday gift.

Drawstring bags hold odd shaped items.
My husband wanted a bag to hang off his saw that could hold his safety goggles. Mom had a gift that was an odd shape. Bonus: When not using the candlewick cutter, she can keep it in the bag!

How to Sew a Drawstring Bag

After following the directions in this lesson, you’ll have a drawstring bag that measures approximately 8-inches tall and 6-inches wide.

Tip: Read all of the steps before you begin.

Gather the Supplies

Fabric and notions for a drawstring bag
Left: fabric, cord, and cord stop
Right: fabric and ribbon

Fabric and Notions:

  • a piece of woven or knit fabric large enough to cut an 11-inch x 15-inch rectangle
  • ribbon or cord for the drawstring
  • optional – cord stops

Tools: sewing machine, thread, scissors, pins or clips, rotary cutting tools (cutter, mat, and ruler), iron, safety pin, and sewing gauge

Tip: Prewash and dry the fabric if there is a chance the drawstring bag will ever be washed in the future.

Construction

Tip: Read all of the steps before you begin.

Note: The straight stitch is the only stitch you’ll use.

  1. Press out large wrinkles/creases, square up the fabric, and cut an 11 x 15-inch rectangle.
Use rotary cutting tools to quickly cut the rectangle

2. With the wrong side of the fabric facing up, turn the raw edge of one of the 11-inch sides in 1/4-inch and press.

Turn in one short side a quarter inch and press.

 3. Turn the pressed edge 1/4-inch again so the raw edge is hidden.

Turn the edge one more time to hide the raw edge.

Press and secure with either pins or clips.

Use clips or pins to secure the turned edge.

 4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 on the other 11-inch side.

 5. Sew both sides down close to the inside fold.

Sew close to the inside fold.

 6. With the wrong side facing up, turn and press the raw edge of one 15 inch side 3/8-inch. Secure in place with pins or clips. This will be the top of the bag.

Turn, press, and secure the top edge.

 7. Stitch close to the raw edge. Backstitch at beginning and end.

Sew close to the raw edge.

 8. Fold the rectangle in half so the short sides are lined up and the raw edge at the bottom is even. Pin or clip the edges together.

After rectangle is folded in half, secure with pins or clips.

 9. Use a 3/8-inch seam allowance and start sewing the side seam 2-inches below the top edge. Sew down the side and across the bottom. Backstitch when you start and stop.

Tip: Use a pin or pen to mark where to start sewing.

Mark where you will start sewing.
It’s helpful to mark where you will start sewing so you don’t forget.

10. Press open the seam including the 2 inches above the starting point.

Press the seam open.
The blue circle marks where I started sewing.

11. Sew the top two inches of the seam down by sewing a “U”. Start on one side and sew to just below the opening. Pivot and sew across the bottom. Backstitch one time at the bottom then sew up the other side. Make sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of the “U”. Be careful not to catch the back of the bag in the stitching.

Stitch the seam down at the top of the bag.
The U-shaped stitch line described in Step 11 is marked with the blue dotted line in the picture above. The pins are only there for the purpose of the picture.

12. Fold the top edge down far enough so the bottom of the “U” is inside the bag (about 2 and 3/8-inches). Press. This is the casing. Pin in place.

Fold and pin the casing in place.
Look carefully and you can see the U-shaped stitching done in Step 11.

13. Sew the casing down close to the edge. You’ll probably need to use your machine’s free arm so you don’t sew the bag to itself as you sew around to secure the casing.

Use the free arm of your machine to make it easier to sew the casing down.

Tips for Step 13:

  • Backstitch over the space where the two side edges come together. This will reinforce that area.
  • Overlap a few stitches from the starting point to secure the stitches as you finish sewing around the bottom of the casing.

14. Stitch close to the casing’s top edge.

Stitch close to the casing's top edge.

15. Turn the bag right side out.

16. Feed the ribbon or cord through the casing. A safety pin makes this easier.

Use a safety pin to get the cord or ribbon through the casing.

Video – How to Move Ribbon Through a Casing

Correction: After making the video on How to Move Ribbon through a Casing, I realized the way I tied off the ribbon was ineffective.

  • Instead of tying a knot at each end of the ribbon (like I showed in the video), the ends of the ribbon need to be tied together.
  • If the ends are not tied together, they will slide back into the casing and may be difficult to get back out.
The right way – Knot the ribbon or cord ends together.

Video – Hack for Threading a Cord Stop

That’s It. You’re Done!

These drawstring bags don’t take long to make.

Also, the size of the bag is easy to change. Just adjust the measurements of the rectangle you cut. Then follow the same directions.

Drawstring bags can be used to hold different things.
My husband asked me to make bags for his safety goggles that could be hung off his saws so he could find them when he needed them.

Let’s Connect!

One of my main goals is to support and empower you in the joy of sewing.

I’d love to see what you’re sewing!

Send photos of what you’re sewing as well as any sewing questions to nicki@theruffledpurse.com.

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