How to Sew a Drawstring Bag

A drawstring bag is a fun and simple sewing project for beginners. It makes a quick handmade gift too. Just fill it with a Make.Do. gift card and some chocolate… you’ll win the best present award for sure!

You can follow along with this video tutorial or scroll down for written instructions and pictures. Enjoy!

Play Video

What you need...

  • Fabric
  • Ribbon
  • Pin cushion
  • Iron and Ironing Board
  • Ruler
  • Scissors or Rotary Cutter
  • Pen or Pencil
  • Safety Pin

Some important vocabulary...

Selvedge: the “self-finished” edge of fabric made during the manufacturing process. It won’t fray or unravel, which means it doesn’t need a hem!

Right Side: the printed side of the fabric

Wrong Side: the back side of the fabric

Cut your fabric 9" tall and 13" long.

Take advantage of the selvedge, if your fabric still has it. We’ll use it in the next step to avoid having a raw edge. I made my first cut 9 inches down from the selvedge edge. Since my fabric was 19” long, I cut 6 inches from one side to get my 9 by 13 piece. If you’re using a ruler and scissors, mark your fabric in at least three places to keep your line nice and straight.

Cut your ribbon 2 times longer than your drawstring bag.

There are a couple of ways you can do this. The fast way is to lay your ribbon along the top of your fabric, use your finger to hold it in place, then double back to where you started. The more precise way is to measure 26 inches (2 x 13), but it’s easy to lose track if you have a short ruler. Be sure to choose a ribbon with a little texture. If it’s too slick, like satin ribbon, your fabric will slide too easily and your drawstring bag won’t stay closed.

Fold the selvedge over "wrong sides together."

This will be our casing where our ribbon will go. Double check to make sure your ribbon will fit inside the folded edge. And remember that you will lose about ¼” when we sew the casing down, so give yourself a little extra space for your ribbon. Iron your fabric to hold it in place.

Stitch along the open edge to secure your casing.

Start by lining your fabric edge against the edge of the presser foot. Before you sew, lower the presser foot, then hold the threads with your left hand and roll the hand wheel at least three stitches with your right hand. This will keep you threads from knotting up underneath your fabric or from coming out of your needle. Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end so those stitches don’t come undone! If you have trouble sewing straight, try keeping your eyes on the edge of the presser foot. Don’t worry about watching the needle… as long as you keep your hands away from the presser foot, your fingers will be safe!

Fold your drawstring bag in half hamburger style with "right sides together."

Beginning at the casing seam you just sewed, pin along the side and bottom of your fabric. We are only sewing the raw edges, so no need to put any pins on the folded side.

Starting at the casing seam, sew along the side of your drawstring bag.

Don’t sew your casing closed! And be sure you remove your pins as you go. Accidentally sewing over a pin can be bad for your machine and might break the needle.

Pivot around your corner.

Use the hand wheel to give you more control as you get close to the end of your fabric. With your needle down, lift your presser foot and pivot your fabric so you can continue sewing along the bottom edge. You can always go back and roll another stitch or two if your fabric doesn’t line up against the edge of your presser foot. Or, if you go too far, you can backstitch a couple of stitches before you pivot.

Sew along the bottom edge of your drawstring bag.

Backstitch before you get to the end of your fabric. You’re almost done!

Use your scissors to cut the extra fabric from your corner.

This is called “clipping the corners.” Be very careful that you don’t accidentally cut your stitches because then you’ll have a hole in your bag… which would be a big bummer.

Flip your drawstring bag right-side out.

Use your finger to poke out your corners. Double check your seams to make sure there aren’t any holes. If you find one, don’t worry! Turn your bag inside out and sew over the spots you missed.

Attach your safety pin to one end of your ribbon.

Use the pin to feed the ribbon into your casing. If your ribbon has a “right-side” (like mine), be sure that it’s facing toward you as it goes inside the casing. Hold the safety pin in your right hand while you gather fabric onto the pin with your left. Then, grab the pin with your left hand and use your right hand to pull the fabric off the pin. Don’t let go of your pin! Keep repeating that process (push, push, push… pull, pull, pull) until the pin makes it all the way around your drawstring bag.

Finish your ribbon.

Tie a knot in your ribbon by looping it around 2 fingers and sticking the ends through the hole. Now you can cut any extra ribbon at an angle to keep the ends from fraying.

Ta-done! You made a drawstring bag!

Fill it with treasures, pull the ribbon tight, and be really proud of yourself.

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