Drawstring bags were one of the first things I made when I first started sewing. I liked them because they were pretty quick and easy enough for, well, me. So I’m going to show you how make a drawstring bag of your very own! (Cue confetti and party balloons falling from above.)
Start with two pieces of fabric. It doesn’t really matter what size they are, just as long as both pieces are the same size! I’m using leftover fabric for this little project so my bags are pretty small.
Here’s a little lesson for you. When you have fabric that is printed/patterned, there is what is known as a “right side” and a “wrong side” of the fabric. The right side is the side that has the actual print on it. The wrong side, of course, is the other side. This is important to know and probably most of you already do—but I didn’t until I took my very first sewing class.
For your project, you’re going to pin the right sides of the fabric together (meaning the right sides of both pieces of fabric are touching).
Pin three sides, leaving one side open to make your top.
Here I’m trying to show, again, how the right sides of the fabric are on the inside, the wrong sides of the fabric are on the outside.
It may sound silly to repeatedly mention that the right sides need to be together, but when I was making these for the very first time I accidentally sewed one with the right sides out, which caused some angst at the time! I called my sister in despair and she said something like this, “Right sides together, Amanda, ALWAYS right sides together!!!” Which is almost always true in sewing. Almost—but not always. But for this project you do sew it with the right sides together.
Then, you can start sewing. Pick your seam allowance (I chose 3/8”) and start sewing down one side.
You might have noticed something—my edges are finished. I went ahead and serged the edges of my fabric. But don’t worry about this—there are multiple ways to finish off the edges if you don’t have a serger and I’m going to show you a really simple way for this project.
Sew down the side until you come close to the end. Make your best guess and stop when you think you’re about at where your seam allowance is (so I stopped about 3/8” away from the edge). Make sure your needle is down into the fabric (use the hand wheel on the side of your machine if needed).
Lift the presser foot with the needle still down in the fabric.
Turn your fabric 90 degrees, put your presser-foot back down, and start sewing again (you should be at the bottom of the bag now). Repeat this when you get to the end of the fabric again and sew up the other side.
And now your bag should more or less look like this.
Now I’m going to tell you to do something you probably won’t enjoy.
You need to iron your seams.
Open out the seams on the sides (and bottom) of your bag and press them open.
If you have a tailor’s ham, it can make things a lot easier. Except my bag was so small my ham wouldn’t fit all the way in. So it wasn’t too helpful with this project.
As I said, I wasn’t too happy when I learned about pressing seams open. I mean, who wants to do more ironing? Not me. For a long time I just skipped it. But then I realized that your project just looks better when it’s finished when you press those seams open. The other thing is that pressing your seams really helps with other techniques, particularly when you’ve sewn something inside-out, then turn it right-side out and then have to sew that opening closed. We’ll get to that later. Just trust me, pressing your seams open is good. So do it! Promise? Okay.
Now your seams are pressed open and you need to do something with those raw edges. If you just leave them raw, they’ll fray and come unraveled over time (unless you’re using a knit fabric, which hopefully you’re not). There are a couple of different things you can do, but for this, we’re keeping it super-simple. We’re just going to trim the edges with pinking shears. Pinking shears help keep the fraying at bay. They don’t stop it completely, but they definitely slow it down.
This is a drawstring bag I made a year and a half ago and I used pinking shears at that time to trim the edges. This bag has even been through the wash and you can see that it has held up very well.
Just for kicks, I had to show you this part of the bag. I sewed over this spot three or four times! I don’t remember why, but I’m sure I had a reason. This just goes to show that you don’t need to be embarrassed by mistakes like these!
So now your bag is nearly done. You’ve sewn it, pressed the seams, and finished off the raw edges. What’s missing? The drawstring of course! And so what do you need to do? Can you guess?
Yep, you need to make a casing. Don’t know how? Don’t know what I’m talking about? Just check out my post from the other day that tells you how to make a casing. For this particular project I do recommend adding in that extra step I mention in the tutorial (sewing down the raw edge after you’ve folded it over the first time).
Once you’ve made your casing and inserted your drawstring, your bag is done!
This is one way to make a drawstring bag. When you make it this way, the drawstring comes out of the casing and ties on the inside of the bag. If you want to make your bag so that the drawstring ties on the outside of the bag, you can find another great tutorial on Skip to My Lou.
These little bags are awesome. They’re super fast and easy to make and they have tons of uses! I made some large versions of these for the kids’ “reverent bags” for church and other places they need to be quiet. I also use these to hold toys of similar genres (one holds balls, one holds cars, etc). If you’re feeling ambitious, you can make them to hold party favors to pass out at birthday parties or if you want to be the hostess with the mostest you can make some for guests staying at your house and include things like sample-size toothpastes, lotions, and shampoos inside. Your imagination is the limit! I am making these for a very specific gift-related reason which I will be sharing at a future date, so keep your eyes open!
What ideas do you have about how you can use these?