How to Make a Drawstring Bag

I have been on a roll with the sewing machine via the throw pillow and shirt sleeve wine bag so I thought why not try my hand at another craft…after all I did have some ‘fabric’ left from the button down shirts.  (If I didn’t mention it, I did use the body of the button down to make pillows.  So although I had extra materials, it wasn’t a huge amount.)  My inspiration came from one a drawstring bag that my Mom made when she was 16.  I use it when I travel and thought, wouldn’t it be great to have more of these!  (It is :))

Items Needed to Make a Drawstring Bag:

  • Shirt Sleeve
  • Scissors
  • Sewing Machine (or needle and thread)
  • Pins / Pencil
  • 2 Strings (for the drawstring)

I made at least a half dozen of these, each one a different size.  Determine what size you would like the drawstring bag to be (length x width).  Double the length (as you will be folding this to make the bottom of the bag) then add a 1/2″ around for the trim.  That is the size material you need.  Or you can retro everything like I did 🙂

You will need two strings (for the drawstring).  Each string should be a little less than 3x the length it will pull if it is a small (6″ish).  If it a lot larger, than you could go with 2.5x or less.

Feel free to get creative and embellish.  I stenciled some with a custom stencil I made and hand embroidered one.

OberBargain Tip:  I had everything on hand except the ribbon, so I only spent $1!  Keep in mind, this is a great way to utilize smaller remnants of existing fabric and ribbon from other projects or excess ‘material’ from shirt upcycling.



For the purposes of these directions, the drawstring bag will be longer length wise (folded in half) than width.

Instead of having a rough edge where the string comes out of the drawstring bag, I like to hem mine to give it a cleaner look.  It is an extra step and you don’t need to include it.  If you prefer not to, skip to step 3.

1. Prepare the Hem

  • Pin 1/4″ over on the left and right sides so it flanks the length of the material — but only go 2″ down.  Pin the material in so the ‘nice’ side of the material is on the outside.  Do this on the top and bottom.  (So when you fold the material, the fold is the bottom and the pinned area is the top of the drawstring bag.)

2. Set up the sewing machine and sew hem

Ribbon Placed Across the Top

  • Make sure to thread the machine and put in the bobbin.  Don’t bother back stitching as the top of the bag will be sew down to make the drawstring and secure the stitching.  Remove the pins.

3. Prep the ‘drawstring’ portion of the bag

Prepped and Pinned Hem for Drawstring

  • Lay the fabric down lengthwise so one of the ends (of the long portion of the fabric) is facing you and the ‘nice’ side is facing down and hemmed edges is facing up.
  • Tie a knot on the end of each side of the strings.  (This is so the string doesn’t unravel after use.)  Place both strings across the top about an inch down (so they come out the hemmed sides).  Lay the strings so that one string only has a few inches on one side and the rest of the length on the other and the second string is the opposite.  So on each side, there is one string that has a few inches and the other with the majority of the length.
  • Fold over fabric on the hemmed edges side so the ‘fold’ is where the string is and tuck the cut end up.  (This is where you will sew for the hem.)  I like to pin the strings up so the don’t interfere with the hem.  You may need to pin a few times depending on how big your drawstring bag is.  Make sure there is enough room so the strings can pull.
  • Pin the hem on the sides of the bag where the string is too come out the sides

4. Sew the hem for the drawstring portion of the bag

  • Sew across the tucked in portion and make a hem for the drawstrings.  Make sure to back stitch.

5. Make the drawstring for the otherside

  • Fold the material in half and flip over.  The side that needs the drawstring should be on the bottom and the one with the completed drawstring on top.  Pull the bottom part of the fabric out a few inches and prep the fabric accordingly.  This time, only take the long portion of the string from the completed draw across the top of the bag.  (This will connect the two ends of the bag, but you should have enough string be able to sew the hem of the drawstring.)  Once completed sew the hem, making sure not to sew the string.

6. Pin the sides

  • Turn inside out.  Lay flat and pin the sides together so they can be sew together for the new seem.

7. Sew seem on both sides

  • Sew the new seem starting from the folded bottom of the bag to the drawstring.  Make sure to backstitch when you start the stitch and when you get to the end of the seems near the drawstring.  Repeat on the other side

7.  Trim away any excess fabric from the new seem.

8. Turn inside out. Completed!

  • As I mentioned above, I decided to embellish mine.  (I should have listened to my own advice when stenciling.  I rushed it and wasn’t dabbing up and down so I have a few blobs.  I think it gives them character! :))  I also wasn’t so careful in some of the bags and accidentally cut one of the strings…thankfully I started with two!

Completed Drawstring Bag with Stencil






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