This is a tutorial for how I make a really simple drawstring bag to use to gift small quilts. Years ago, I used an online tutorial to make my first simple drawstring bag, but that blog is no longer available. I started playing around with what I remembered of the pattern and developed this simple pattern. As an added bonus, at the bottom of this post you can find several ways to enter to win the drawstring bag I made for this tutorial as a giveaway!
- Fabric: 1/2 yard
- Ribbon for drawstring: 1 yard to 1 1/4 yard
- Coordinating thread
- Iron and ironing board
Step 1: Iron Fabric and Ribbon
I had over half a yard of a fun Michael Miller multi-color polka dot print that matched a 7/8″ wide tan ribbon that I selected to use to make this simple drawstring bag. I like to start out by pressing the ribbon flat and steaming the wrinkles out of my fabric. While I was working with the fabric, I found a small manufacturing defect in the middle of the print. It also turns out that I did not have a full yard of the tan ribbon. So for the purposes of this bag, instead of trimming the fabric to 18″ x WOF (width of fabric), I used 16″ x WOF to avoid the defect and best utilize my ribbon!
Step 2: Trim Fabric to 18″ by WOF
I have a couple of tricks I like to use when squaring up and trimming my fabric. After I have pressed the fabric flat and steamed out as many wrinkles and fold lines as I can, I gently fold the fabric in half, matching selvage edges. I do my best to keep the selvage edges aligned and slowly run my hands over the fabric to make sure the the fibers are laying flat over one another. Sometimes the fabric will need to shift to lay flat against itself, but by having removed the initial half fold created in the fabric when it was on the bolt during my ironing step and slowly working the fabric, I can typically get the fabric to lay pretty flat and true. I then line up the folded edge along the 1″ grid line of my cutting mat. Again, I slowly work the fabric into position and finger press the fold down to make sure the fold is along the grid line. Also, in my personal cutting setup, I use a carpenter’s square that presses against a side angle when I trim my fabric with my Olfa rotary blade.
Step 3: Trim Selvage Edges
Keeping the fabric folded in half (wrong sides together in the above photograph), I trim the selvage edges. Note that at this stage I also loop my ribbon in half and make sure that I have enough ribbon to cover the width of fabric with at least 3-4 inches of excess. Again, this bag is only 16″ x WOF.
Step 4: Press 1/4″ Fold Down WOF (Each Long Edge)
Next, I finger press down each long edge (WOF) a quarter inch, and then I come back and steam this fold to be crisp. I take care to make sure that the sides of the fabric fold in line with one another.
Step 5: Double Fold 1/4″ Seam and Press Along WOF
By creating the double fold, the raw fabric edges are hidden away. Again, take care to make sure the fabric edges line up when folded down.
Step 6: Sew Seam Down WOF
To be honest, it is hard to create a quarter inch double fold. After the second fold, I typically have 3/8″ of fabric and am able to use a quarter inch seam allowance when I stitch down the double fold. The short edges are still raw and will have their own double fold, so I do not worry about back stitching, and I simply trim my thread to the edge of the fabric. I also like to iron the seam to set it afterwards.
A quick side note about how I like to work: I will press and sew down one side then stand back up and press and sew the other side. I personally find that I enjoy having a lot of movement to break up my sitting at the sewing machine. It helps keep me from feeling hunched over during a long day of sewing.
Step 7: Fold Down Short Edges 1/2″ and Press
Much like step 5, I use a combination of finger pressing down the initial fold followed by ironing to make a crisp 1/2″ fold on the short edge of the fabric.
Trying to show how I work this step was pretty hard! I typically have my left hand guiding the measuring tape, my thumb creating an initial press of the fabric, and I am following along with my right hand moving the iron to set the fold. In order to get this photo I turned of my iron and used my right hand to snap the above photo, my mouth to hold flash dimming paper, and my shirt to hold lens cap. Whew!
Step 8: Double Fold and Press Short Edges
This final double fold step effectively tucks away all the raw edges of the fabric, which is nice. This method will create a pretty bulky side seam, but I like how durable and clean it leaves the inside of the bag.
Step 9: Sew Seam Down Short Edge
After the second fold, I stitch it down using a 1/2″ seam allowance. As this is a more finished seam, I start away from the edge, backstitch to the edge of the fabric and sew the seam. At the opposite end, I back stitch and stop short of the edge. To trim the threads, I start by trimming the thread on the right side of the fabric. Then I give a gentle tug on the thread on the wrong side to pull the end of the other thread to the back side and then trim the second thread. Because of the backstitching, I am not worried about the thread unraveling.
Step 10: Fold Short Edge Down 2″ and Press
To create the pocket for the ribbon to run through, I next press the short edge down another 2″. The ribbon I use is 7/8″ wide, but if the ribbon I were going to use were thinner or wider, I would adjust this fold length to compensate accordingly.
Step 11: Sew 1/4″ Seam from Edge and Follow Double Fold Seam to Create Ribbon Pocket
I then sew 2 more seams down the short edge of the fabric. The first is a 1/4″ seam from the top of the fold. I like how this gives a finished look to the ribbon seam and bag. For the second seam, I follow the seam line I created from the double fold. And just like when I sewed the short edge double fold seam (Step 9), I start and stop away from the edges and use back stitching to fully capture the edges of the fabric.
Step 12: Insert Ribbon
I typically cut my ribbon in half and insert the ribbon through the ribbon pocket on each short edge. You can also press a fold at the halfway point of the ribbon and create a loop through both sides. I like working with one side at a time to keep the ribbon flat and untwisted. To insert the ribbon, I just used my finger as an initial guide and slowly worked it through. This worked because the ribbon I used is fairly stiff. I also like to use a safety pin as a guide to lead the ribbon through the ribbon pocket.
Step 13: Sew One Edge Complete Closed
With right sides together, I match the top edges of the bag and lightly press a fold to the bottom of the bag. Then, I completely sew closed one side of the bag starting at the folded edge and working up toward the ribbon pocket. When I get to the ribbon pocket, I slow down and take my time getting the presser foot up and onto the more bulky section of fabric. I also pull the ribbon to the edge of the fabric at this point in time. I then back-stitch completely across the ribbon and reverse forward again, stopping just short of the edge. This will securely lock the ribbon in place and give the drawstring (ribbon) something firm to tug against when you close the top of the bag.
Step 14: Sew Second Edge Closed to Bottom of Short Edge Double Fold
I then turn the bag over and sew closed the other side of the bag, stopping at the double fold or bulky section of fabric with the ribbon pocket. I back-stitch here several times, as this will be the most pulled area of the bag.
Step 15: Turn Right Side Out and Press!
After turning the bag right side out, one of the more important steps is to take your time pressing the bag. I actually typically start by lightly pressing the side seams open before I turn the bag right side out. Then I take my time and work with the bag to find a happy side seam. As I mentioned earlier, the double fold edges sewn together create a bulky side seam! I have played around with this several times, and I am actually usually happier with my final bag side seams when I use a large seam allowance on steps 13 and 14 – 3/8″ or so.
Step 16: Tie Knot in Ribbon and Trim
After pressing the bag, I lay the bag on a flat surface and make sure the ribbon is smooth. I tie a simple knot to close off the ribbon and then trim the edges of the ribbon.
This bag is just over 13.5″ wide by 17.5″ long laying flat on a table. If the full 18″ by WOF was used, the bag would finish closer to 15.5″ wide by 17.5″ long.
Congratulations! You have made a simple drawstring bag!
As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I like to use left over fabric remnants to make these bags to gift baby quilts. To fold up the baby quilt, I simply fold the longest edge of the quilt almost in half. Then I fold it again, keeping the binding edge just shy of the first fold line. With the binding edge up, I start at one short end and roll the quilt up. As I roll the quilt, I gently pleat the edge of the quilt with showing binding so that the edge does not pucker out when it is rolled up.
The quilt I used to demonstrate this technique is 36″ wide by 47″ long. After I make the quilt roll, I lay it on top of the drawstring bag to make sure it will fit nicely inside. Sometimes I have to go back and fold the short side first and roll up from the longer direction to get it to fit well.
Giveaway – Congratulations to the Giveaway Winner: Vera!
Thanks for following along and checking out my simple drawstring back tutorial! I would like to give away this drawstring bag a lucky reader! To enter, simply leave me a comment below. For a second chance to win, let me know how you follow my blog (WordPress Reader, Bloglovin’, Feedly, via e-mail, etc.). I will leave the comments open to this entry until Sunday, August 3, at 8PM PST. Good luck!
** The giveaway is for the drawstring bag only, sorry, the baby quilt is not part of the giveaway. 🙂 **