sewing & needlework
Tutorial Tuesday // simple drawstring bag

Tutorial Tuesday // simple drawstring bag

It would be fair to say I’m a bit of a bag hoarder. A new project, generally speaking, is an excuse for a new bag. Sometimes it’s a zippy pouch, or a boxy bucket, or a little tote. I have a whole box of bags in my craft room, and yet, that doesn’t stop me from making yet another when the new project mojo strikes.

This week, I’m about to cast off a jumper, and then I want to cast on a sock snake. It’s a simple project that I plan to tote here, there, and everywhere with me, and it’s going to need a simple bag to keep it in. In perfect timing, I have a friend chasing a drawstring bag pattern, and so I decided it was the perfect time for a tutorial. Let’s make a bag together!


To start, work out what size you would like your finished back to be. If it is to hold something specific, like a library bag, be sure to leave some extra space to get your belongings in and out! For this tutorial, I’m going to make my bag 7″x10″.

With a finished size settled, we first need to add side seam allowance. To avoid any exposed edges, we’ll do a French seam, so both sides will need 1/4″ for the first seam, and 1/2″ for the second – a total of 3/4″ a side, or 1.5″ in total. Our cutting width for the example, then, will be 8.5″

Length wise, we first need to add the casing for the draw string. The main casing is 1″, and we also want to add another 1/2″ so we can turn the raw edge under. There are two options we can use for the length: one, we can cut the length double so the base of the bag is formed by folding it in half, and two, we can cut two pieces and form the bottom of the bag with a seam.

For option one, your cut length will be twice the finished length of the bag, plus 3″ (1″ casing + 1/2″ foldover, twice – one for each end). For option two, your cut length will be the finished length of your bag, plus 1.5″ for the casing and folder over, plus 3/4″ for the seams as per the width.

So for my example bag, finishing at 7×10″, I will be cutting:

OPTION ONE: one piece, 8.5″x23″ (shown in the photo as cut as 8.5″x11.5″ on the fold to get the full length of 23″)

OPTION TWO: two pieces, 8.5″x12.25″


Along the top short edge, press 1/2″ towards the wrong side, and with it still folded, press 1″ towards the wrong side. Repeat for the other top short edge. Unfold before proceeding.

Place either the two pieces wrong sides together, or fold the single piece in half wrong sides together and watch short edges.

From the top short edge, measure down 2.5″ and mark on each long edge -this is where you will start sewing the side seams. This mark should be an inch below the pressed line from the first step.

Pin the edges ready for sewing.


Our first side seam will be 1/4″. Starting at the mark made in the previous step, sew down each side seam. If you chose cutting option two, you may like to start at one mark, sew down, pivot, sew across the bottom, pivot, and sew back up to the mark on the other side.

If using option two, clip across the corner on the diagonal, taking care not to clip the point of the seam.

Turn the bag so that the right sides are together. Ensure all corners are turned out completely. Press the seam, including the foldover created in the top, unsewn section. Pin along seam, ensuring stitch line is crisp and even along the edge.

Repeat step one, this time with a 1/2″ seam to ensure the raw edges of the first seam are fully encased, stopping and starting at the 2.5″ mark again.


Turn the finished bag right side out again. Where we left the casing section unsewn, the fabric should be turning back on itself. Press this section open to the wrong side to create a neat edge.

Using the fold lines pressed in step one, fold under the raw edge, and then the casing, towards the wrong side/inside of the bag. Pin carefully, making sure you don’t catch the opposite side.

Top stitch the casing in place, 7/8″ from the top fold, being sure to catch the folded under edge.

Repeat for the second side.


Cut two lengths of cord for the drawstring. You want these lengths to be approximately three times the width of your bag.

Starting on one side, thread the cord through one side of the casing, and return through the other side. Tie a knot.

Starting on the other side, repeat the procedure of threading across and back.

The knots should be on opposite sides of the bag, and you can now pull them to close the bag.

Congratulations, your bag is done!!


Once you have the basic method down pat, it’s easy to really go to town customising your bag. You could add an iron on to the front, or a little zipper pocket. A couple of straps maybe to wear it as a backpack. The options are endless!

I hope you’ve found this tutorial helpful! I would love to see your finished bag, either drop me a link in the comments, or tag me @barefootcrafter on instagram!

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