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Easy Drawstring Bag Tutorial

July 19, 2018 | Tutorials
Sweet, simple bag to hold your little treasures

  • Finished bag measures 10” x 8”
  • Use ¾ “ seam allowance

This is the project I love teaching to all my beginner students. It’s small, quick, all straight-line sewing, super handy, and leaves you with the feeling of an accomplished sewing ninja when you finish! Once you complete this little bag, you’re going to want to make a bunch more to hold all your little treasures. It makes a great gift on its own, or to use as an alternative to wrapping paper. Also, once you master this little baby, you can hop over to my next tutorial that teaches how to make the same bag, only with a full lining. Oooooooo, sew fancy! (coming soon)


  • 1/3 yards of cotton fabric for main bag (or two fat quarters)
  • 1/4 yards of cotton fabric for “rope tunnel” (or 1 fat quarter)
  • 2 yards of rope or ribbon
  • rulers
  • scissors or rotary cutter and self-healing matt (my preference)
  • safety pin
  • thread & bobbin
  • sewing machine

Ninja Note #1:

When you go to the store to buy fabric, you’ll see it comes wrapped around a long, flat rectangle piece of cardboard. This is called a bolt of fabric. There are typically about 8 yards of fabric that comes on a bolt. Fabric stores also sell pre-cut pieces of fabric called “fat quarters” and they measure 18” x 22”.

You don’t need to buy the entire bolt for this project! You only need a tiny bit. So, just find some pre-cut fabric or ask the nice person at the cutting table to cut a piece from a bolt for you. See above.

WARNING: Choosing fabric is by far the hardest part of any sewing project. There are sooooo many cute designs and styles out there. Choose wisely.

Ninja Note #2

Cutting your project accurately will make your sewing life run much smoother. So, take time to cut accurately.

I use a rotary cutter, which looks like a pizza cutter with a seriously sharp blade on it, and a self-healing cutting mat. This technique takes practice and caution, so be careful if you choose to try a rotary blade. You can buy both of these things at most big box craft stores like Joann Fabrics, Michaels or Hobby Lobby.

I get the most accurate cuts by using a ruler and rotary blade!

If you don’t have a rotary cutter and mat, simply use a ruler to mark your straight lines to follow and cut with your scissors. I like to mark with Taylor’s chalk. But seriously, no one is going to see the markings, so use what you have on hand – pen, pencil, or marker, but the kid’s crayons probably won’t do the trick (I’ve tried) . Just cut STRAIGHT. You’ll be happy you did in the end.

WARNING: Get in the habit of closing your blade protector on your rotary cutter. If you even brush against an open blade while it is sitting on your table, you’ll have one nasty cut that stings like a paper cut. Yuck.

Ninja Note #3

Most fabrics will have a side that looks right and a side that looks wrong. Some fabrics look the same on both sides.

The right side is the side of the fabric you want to see on the outside of your bag. It is more vibrant and shows the pattern or design more clearly.

The wrong side is the side that will be on the inside of your bag. It is usually more faded and looks like, well, the wrong side.

There is a lot of fabric out there where it is hard to discern one side from the other, like linen or solid fleece. They look the same on both sides.

WARNING: Sewing instructions will tell you when to place certain sides together before you sew, so its good to pay attention to your sides!

Step 1: Cut your materials

1a. From the main fabric, cut two pieces that measure 10’ x 10”.

1b. From the “rope tunnel” fabric, cut two pieces measuring 10” x 4”.

1c. From the rope or ribbon, cut two pieces measuring 30”.

Ninja Note #3

Wrap a piece of tape around the rope at the section where you will cut. This helps keep the rope from unraveling.

Step 2: Prepare the “rope tunnel”

Your little bag needs a place to hold and draw in your rope. In this step you will hem each of the 4 short sides of your “rope tunnels”.

Hem your rope tunnels

2a. Take one of the 10” x 4” rectangles and fold the short 4” end over to the wrong side of the fabric to measure ¼ inch wide. (Bust out that ruler).

2b. Iron that ¼ edge down.

2c. Fold over the same edge another ¼ inch.

2d. Iron down that fold too. We want that baby to stay put.

2e. Sew along the folded edge using a ¾ seam allowance.

2f. Repeat steps 1-5 for the three remaining short edges.

Ninja Note #5

What the heck is a seam allowance exactly?

A seam allowance is the area between the fabric edge and the stitching line.

I used some black thread on one of my seams to help you see where you will sew.

The area between the black thread and the edge of the fabric is the seam allowance.

WARNING: Seam allowances vary from project to project and will affect the size of your finished projects. Keep an eye out in the instructions about changing seam allowances. I use a ¾ seam allowance in most of my projects because it’s easy for beginners to follow.

Ninja Note #6

Use a piece of masking tape to mark where your seam allowance is on your sewing machine.

You can then follow the edge of the tape as a guide to help sew a straight seam allowance.

Simply keep the right edge of your fabric “kissing” the left edge of tape as you sew along.

DON’T watch your needle go up and down. Instead, keep an eye on your fabric edge and that it stays right along the edge of your tape.

If your fabric starts to slip over the tape, put that baby back in its place and line it up again.

Even better than masking tape is WASHI tape. So, RUN to the craft store and fill up on the cutest washi tape you can find. I have an entire bin of the stuff.

Fold your rope tunnels lengthwise

2g. Take the long side (now measuring approximately 9 inches) and fold so the wrong sides touch and look like a hot dog bun.

Step 3: Find the middle of each of your pieces

3a. Take one of your “rope tunnels” and fold it in half, short edge to short edge.

3b Make a crease at the middle fold.

3c. Take one of your main fabric squares and find the middle the same way.

3d. Find the middle of your other 2 pieces in the same manner.

Step 4: Sew tunnel to main fabric

4a. Mark the middle of each of your pieces with a pin.

4b. Match the pins and lay the “rope tunnel” on top of the right side of one of your main 10” x10” squares.

4c. The objective here is to situate your “rope tunnel” so that it sits in the middle of your main fabric.

4d. Make sure the raw (cut edges) of your rope tunnel are matched up with the top of you main fabric.

4e. Pin through all three layers of fabric.

4f. Sew ¾” along the top edge of your bag along the “rope tunnel”.

4g. Repeat steps 1-7 for remaining “rope tunnel” and main fabric square.

Step 5: Sew main pieces of bag together

5a. Take the two new units and place them on top of each other with rights sides touching.

5b. Sew around the side edges and bottom edge. DO NOT SEW THE TOP edge or you won’t have an opening. Gaaaa!

5c. Trim the corners off of the bottom. Don’t cut your precious stitches though!

Step 6: Turn your bag right-side out

6a.. Admire your work. Your bag is SOO close to completion.

Step 7: Insert the drawstring rope

7 a. Take one of the 30” of rope and attach a safety pin to the taped end.

7b. Insert the safety pin through the right side top opening of your “rope tunnel” and thread the rope through the tunnel using the safety pin as a guide to push though.

7c. Continue threading rope around and through the back tunnel to exit out the same side you entered.

7d. Tie a knot at the end of the two pieces that exited the right side of your bag.

7e. Take your second piece of rope and thread through the left side of the bag, wrap around and through the back tunnel to exit out the left side again.

7f. Tie a knot at the end of the two pieces that exited the right side of your bag.

Step 8: Pull those strings and check out your cute handmade drawstring bag!!!

Congratulations! You made something with your very own hands. Looky how cute!

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