Tutorial: Dead easy drawstring bag

Dead easy drawstring bag 2A Facebook fan recently asked for a really simple drawstring bag pattern, for Christmas presents. Well, simple I can do, so here is my suggested method… there are plenty of others out there, but I like this method because it is very quick and easy, especially if you use ribbon/webbing instead of making your own drawstring.

Some notes on the pattern

The finished bag is 14″ deep and 11″ wide, which is a good size for my size 5.5 shoes.. or makes a great sized storage bag for in-progress craft projects.  But you can vary the size to whatever suits you. If you change the dimensions, all you have to remember is to make the casing 1″ shorter than the width of your main body fabric. So in this pattern, the outer measures 15″ by 23″, so the casing is 3″ by 22″.

The length of the drawstring is up to you! The beauty of this pattern (even if I do say so myself!) is that you can thread through as much drawstring as you like, and then trim it to size before you sew on the tab ends. So follow my measurements, or work with your own.

You will need:

  • 1 piece of outer fabric measuring 15″ by 23″ (You will be folding this fabric piece in half to make the bag, so bear in mind that the top and bottom of the drawstring bag are the long sides of this rectangle)
  • 1 piece of lining fabric measuring 15″ by 23″
  • 2 pieces of iron-on medium weight interfacing measuring 15″ by 23″. If you are using a heavy fabric (upholstery weight) for your outer fabric, don’t bother to interface it. The bag will be bulky and clumsy when you pull the drawstring, if the fabrics you use are too thick.
  • 1 piece coordinating fabric measuring 3″ by 22″ for the drawstring casing
  • Fabric/ribbon/webbing of your choice to make drawstrings. If you want to make the drawstring with coordinating fabric you need 2 pieces of the same fabric measuring 2″ by at least 18″. If you are using ribbon or webbing, it needs to be no wider than 0.75″, and you can trim to length when you’ve made your bag.
  • 2 pieces of coordinating fabric measuring 2″ by 4″ for the drawstring tabs.
  • Coordinating polyester thread (only if you are making your own drawstrings)


The seam allowance is 0.5″ throughout.

First make the casing for the drawstrings. Take the 3″ by 22″ piece of fabric and fold it in half lengthways. Stitch round like this, leaving the other short end open:
1 casing 1
Then trim the seam to 0.25″ and trim the corners on an angle, like this:

2 casing 2

Use a knitting needle or bodkin to help you, turn the casing right side out. Press flat making sure the seam is nice and sharp. Mark a line 1/2″ from the open short edge:

3 casing 3

Fold the raw edge in, along the marked line, to create a neat edge, and then press flat.

4 casing 4

Stitch this opening very close to the edge, reverse stitching at each end.

5 casing 5

Topstitch the other narrow end of the casing:

6 casing 6

Then fasten off all the threads. The way I do this is to pull the top threads through to the back and knot the top and bobbin threads close to the fabric. Then I thread a needle with the thread ends and pull the knot through the fabric so it can’t be seen.

Now take your chosen outer fabric and iron on the interfacing (if required). Next measure 1.75″ from the top long edge and 1″ from either edge and pin the casing into place on the right side of the fabric.

7 stitching casing in place 2

8.5 stitching casing in place 4

Stitch the long edges of the casing, nice and close to the edge, reverse stitching at either end. Pull the top threads through to the back and knot with the bobbin thread.

8 stitching casing in place 3

Now fold the outer in half lengthways (creating a bag shape measuring 15″x11″). It’s a good idea to make sure the two open ends of the casing are neatly lined up – it looks better if they’re not too wonkily aligned. Stitch the side seam and the bottom seam as shown. I reinforce the corner with an extra bit of stitching.

9 stitching outer

Trim the seams to 0.25″ and turn the completed outer through to make sure it looks ok, and give it a very thorough press to create nice sharp seams. Turn it inside out again and put to one side whilst you sort out the lining.

Take the chosen lining fabric and iron on the interfacing. Fold the lining in half lengthways and stitch the bottom and side seam, leaving a 3″ turning hole in the side seam (or the base if you prefer, it makes no difference!), as shown.

10 stitching the inner

Turn right side out and press thoroughly.

Now for the fun part! Put the lining inside the outer (right sides together).

11 putting the inner and outer tog 1

12 putting the inner and outer tog 2

13 putting the inner and outer tog 3

Line up the top edges and pin into place. Don’t worry too much if the outer or the lining is up to 1/8″ wider round the top edge (this can easily happen) – you can ease this out with a bit of stretching as you stitch round. If however there is a massive disparity, you might want to re-stitch one of the seams to try and sort it out – you really can’t fit a quart in a pint pot (as my dad would have said). Stitch the top edge of the bag as indicated:

14 putting the inner and outer tog 4

Next trim the seam, then turn the bag right side out through the hole you left in the lining. Tuck the lining into the bag, and press the top seam so it is nice and sharp. Top stitch the bag round the top edge:

15 top stitching top edge

Now, this bit is up to you. If you are using ribbon or webbing, skip to the next stage, but if you are making your own drawstring with coordinating fabric then listen up!

Stitch together the two 2″ by 18″ pieces at one of the short edges and press the seam open.

18 making drawstring 3

Now get your iron out and press in half lengthways (sorry, this bit is a little tedious, and do mind your fingers!), open out again and fold the edges into the the central fold, like this:

19 making drawstring 4

Then fold along the centre again, so you have a long thin piece measuring 0.5″ by 35ish”. The only raw edges showing should be a the two very narrow ends. Stitch along the open edge, as close to the edge as you can manage – if you want you can stitch the other long edge to match. NOTE: Use polyester thread for this stitching, it needs to have a bit of stretch because it will come under pressure when you pull the drawstring tight.

Pay attention EVERYONE now…

Take the completed drawstring (or ribbon/webbing) fasten a safety pin through one end (or use a trusty bodkin), and pull the drawstring through the casing. Trim it to the length  you want.

Finish off your drawstring with lovely tabs which will stop it disappearing back into the casing (or you can knot ribbon or webbing – how quick was that?!).

Take one of the 4″ by 2″ pieces of fabric and finger-press it in half lengthways. Open up the fold and press the edges into the centre line you have just made (use an iron this time!).

21 drawstring tab 1

Fold in half widthways, finger-press, then unfold again:
22 drawstring tab 2

Fold the two narrow edges into the fold you have just made:
23 drawstring tab 3

24 drawstring tab 4

Use your iron again to press this closed. Then unfold again and place one end of the drawstring against the inner fold like this:

25 drawstring tab 5

Fold closed again (I use a bit of fabric glue here to hold it all together, but you can pin if you like):

26 drawstring tab 6

Then stitch around the edge and across the middle to secure the tab end.

27 drawstring tab 7

Repeat with the other end of the drawstring.  Now all you have left to do is to stitch up  the turning hole in the lining (use ladder stitch and you are all done. Tie the drawstring in an overhand knot to create hanging loop if you want to.

Dead easy drawstring bag

Click here for lots more FREE sewing tutorials from Very Berry. 

Kind feedback is always welcome!

The outer fabric used in this tute was kindly provided by the lovely people at Gudrun Sjoden.

30 thoughts on “Tutorial: Dead easy drawstring bag

  1. I love the little tabs at the end of the drawstring. I will incorporate that wonderful idea in many ways in the years to come I think. I love this tutorial and the adorable half inchie needle book (which is where I landed from a Pinterest search for needle books).

  2. Thank you sooo much for this tutorial. I am making “goodie bags” for the Greatgrand Children coming to my Mum’s 90th Birthday bash next Saturday. I have made all the younger kids a small padded bag with handles but I don’t think the eldest boy at 7 years would think kindly of me if I gave him one of those. This drawstring bag is ideal. Hugs xx

  3. Hi! I love this tutorial, but I’m pretty new to sewing, and I have a kinda stupid question…. If you sew shut both short ends of the casing, how to you get the drawstring in? Or did I misunderstand? You dont close the short edges? Pleeeease help me, even tho this post is from 3 years ago 🙂

    1. Hi! So glad you like the tutorial. Don’t worry! The drawstring isn’t threaded *through* the casing, it’s threaded between the casing and the body of bag. So, when you stitch the casing to the bag, you leave the short edges unsewn. Hope this makes sense, if you are still stuck, give me a shout and I will try and explain more/draw a picture! 🙂

  4. I am a little late to the party, but just wanted to let you know that I made the bag for my sister’s birthday. It turned out great, and I only had one snafu because I didn’t read something properly. I love it, and I’m sure she will too!

  5. If you sew the casing only to the outer fabric won’t the lining tend to displace? Particularly on a wide bag.

    1. Hi Pauline, I have not had any problems with the lining displacing, as I used good quality cotton lined with interfacing so it doesn’t tend to move out of position. Also, the weight of the items stored in the bag keep the lining in place. I have not made a wider version, so cannot say whether it would be a problem there- maybe there are different patterns out there if it’s a worry to you. All the best with your sewing. 🙂

  6. Thank you for such a clear tutorial!! You make it very easy to understand. I like how you included even the most basic steps that most other sewing tutorials leave out. That makes it easy for me to see where I need to correct myself 🙂

  7. I love the pattern, but unfortunately I got stuck… I’m not English, but I try to follow the pattern word by word. I end up with 2 bags attached inside out ( ‘Next trim the seam, then turn the bag right side out through the hole you left in the lining. Tuck the lining into the bag, and press the top seam so it is nice and sharp. Top stitch the bag round the top edge:’)
    And I can’t turn them, cause the outside fabric doesn’t have a hole… So confused!

    1. Hi Esmee, so sorry for your confusion… Following someone else’s instructions, especially in a different language is so difficult. I think you must have missed the little bit that says: “Take the chosen lining fabric and iron on the interfacing. Fold the lining in half lengthways and stitch the bottom and side seam, leaving a 3″ turning hole in the side seam (or the base if you prefer, it makes no difference!), as shown.” You should have left a 3″ turning gap in one of the seams of the lining section. Don’t despair, you can make a hole now (just undo some of the stitching) and pull the bag right side out, then stitch up the hole again when you are done. All the best! Ali x

      1. I did leave an opening in the lining part of the bag. I think I know what I did wrong. When you have to stitch the top round, I stitched it completely (that’s why I couldn’t use the opening I previously made). I opened it again, stitched around the top edge and not entirely through, and now I do have a bag! Thank you for the fast reply and I will e-mail you the result!

  8. Fantastic, quite a lot of bits with the casing and lining and tabs so it’s taken me all day but very proud of myself. Very clear instructions and will definitely make more. Thanks! I am not an experienced sewer.

  9. Thank you so much for this tutorial. I have just made this bag for my Son, to keep his music headphones in – excellent clear instructions and so easy to follow 🙂

  10. Just completed my first bag and started two more, not sure how to send photo but will keep trying! Am really pleased with the so helpful guide. Carole in France

  11. Love the fabric, and what a great clear tutorial. I really like the details such as the drawstring tabs and the contrast casing – will definitely use this method next time I whip up a drawstring bag.

  12. Another lovely, clear and thorough tute. Thanks Ali! I make my bags like this and whatever the size/fabric, they always turn out a treat. They add a special finishing touch to any gift.

  13. So glad that you managed the tutorial,the bag looks like such a high standard and I can’t wait to get started, I am going to make them as pressies. THANK you again.

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