drawstring bag

I have been making these quick little drawstring bags for years, usually I have a few hanging around ready to pop a book into, a sketch pad and pencils or even some chocolates as special gifts throughout the year. With Christmas coming up I am making a new batch – they are perfect presents on their own – or as I am planning on doing – you could stuff them full of fun goodies.

I have a whole heap of fat quarters left over from previous projects and these bags are the perfect way to use them up. I have used a slightly heavier cotton than normal quilting or sewing cotton (here I have some of the sturdier fabrics from the Rouenneries collection by French General for Moda), I think linen/cotton combo would be perfect, or you could also use nice vintage linen tea-towels with interesting fun patterns for a retro twist, or you could pick up some canvas from a supply store or as in the variation pictured below – you could use the good bits from old jeans legs to whip up a few refashioned drawstring bags.

This simple bag uses cotton tape to thread your drawstring through, a very easy sewing project for beginners too. This bag does use a french seam – its not hard – it just add an extra step (2 mins) to your time and it makes the bag stronger and gives lovely neat fray-free seams inside (see image below).

You will need to make 2 of these bags:
1 fat quarter (18×22 inches / 45x55cm piece)
1 inch wide cotton tape (28 inches / 75cm)
drawstring cord or 1/4 inch cotton tape (80 inches / 2 metres)
Sewing machine and coordinating sewing thread
Skewer or elastic threader

Step 1: Cut your fat quarter down the centre lengthways to give you 2 long halves. Fold this long piece in half to give you the shape of the bag – the folded edge will form the base of the bag. Sew the 2 sides Wrong sides together – using a narrow 1/8inch seam. This is the first step in your french seam. Fold down the corners seams and poke them through and then turn your bag inside out and press the seams.

Step 2. Now sew down the seam line again – this time with a wider stitch – here I have used almost a 1/2 inch seam but a 1/4 inch should be plenty – the fabric will be Right sides together and the raw edges of the seam will be hidden inside.

Step 3. Because its a french seam you don’t want to be clipping your corners – so to make a neat corner – fold the corner seam and poke it into the bag and then turn the bag Right side out. Press your seams again.

Step 4. Hem the top edge by folding it twice to tuck in the raw edge and here I used a zigzag stitch.

Step 5. Cut your cotton tape into 4 even lengths (you will 2 of these per bag) – mine end up being about 7 inches / 18cm – fold over and zigzag the raw edges. Then sew them – with the raw edges underneath, onto your bag. I have positioned mine to be just underneath the zigzag hemmed stitch – but you can put them lower or higher as you like. Then stitch a straight edge along both sides of the tape – leaving the edges open.

Step 6. Cut your drawstring cord into 4 even lengths (you will use 2 per bag) – mine are approx. 20 inches / 50cm each. I don’t have an elastic threader so instead I use a skewer which I tape the end of the drawcord onto and then thread through the sewn on cotton tape. You will need to thread each piece all the way through both sides and then tie a knot. You will need to thread them through opposite ways – so they end at each side of the bag with a tied knot.

Ta da – you have finished – now you can fill with books, art supplies, or craft packs and give to friends and family.


mairuru has a lovely tutorial showing us how to make this origami style drawstring bag.


kitty baby love has a neat tutorial to make this simple drawstring bag – stencil not included – here is a tutorial how to make a stencil using freezer paper (here are two more tutorials using freezer paper to stencil your design).


I’ll say it again, I love this lady’s work! Link.