Quick + Easy: DIY Drawstring Bags

Have a gift that needs some special wrapping? A quick way to add some organization to your kid’s room? Maybe just an easy sew to get your sewjo back?

There’s a million reasons to sew up one or two (or a dozen!) quick drawstring bags and I bet once you sew one up you’ll be planning on sewing a bunch more!


  • Fabric - quilting cotton, canvas or a lightweight linen would be awesome but truly, the possibilities are as open as your imagination
    Note: Fabric designs that don't have an obvious up and down (think stripes or polka dots) are best!
  • Ribbon, twill tape or something else to use as a unique drawstring
  • Scissors or a rotary cutter + cutting mat
  • Ruler
  • Tailor’s chalk or heat sensitive fabric marker is handy but not required
  • Washable glue stick will come in handy or you could use a scrap of fusible interfacing about 1” x 1’
  • Pins
  • Safety pin
  • A sewing machine with buttonhole feature
  • A serger is optional for finishing the edges of the fabric

Step 1
Decide on the Size You Want

Ask yourself how you’ll be using the bag and determine what dimensions you’d like the finished bag to be. Will it be for a big stuffed animal, a bottle of wine or goodie bags for the kid’s birthday party? Whatever you decide on, simply input your desired dimensions into the calculator below, and it will give you the size you’ll need to cut your fabric.

Step 2
Cut Your Fabric to Size

Before you cut your fabric to the proper size, take a minute to trim off the selvedge (the ~½” bit  on the sides that has fabric information or is just a bit differently textured than the rest of the fabric) or any fraying bits. Once you have a nice neat piece of fabric to work with, cut your fabric to size using scissors or a rotary cutter.
Clean up the edges

Step 3
Create Some Memory Creases

To make placing the drawstring hole easier, take a moment to press some creases into your fabric where we will later be folding it down for the drawstring channel.

On the top of the bag, across the dimension we are calling the width, fold the fabric down toward the back by ¼” and press it neatly to make a crease. Do the same again for the matching side.

Now, fold that same side down again toward the back but this time fold it down 1 ½” from the last crease and neatly press a crease there. Do the same again for the matching side.
Fold the top down

Step 4
Mark the Drawstring Hole

You can put your iron away. Now, you’ll just fold the bag in half to find the center of the top edge. Fold it neatly then use your finger to firmly press the crease down. Open the fabric back up and, using a ruler, mark with a pin ¼” below the lower crease mark on one side right at the center crease you just made (this should be the side you want to be at the front of the bag).

Now measure 1” below the pin you just inserted and mark it with another pin. The distance between the 2 pins will end up being your drawstring hole.

If you would like, you can take some tailor’s chalk or a heat sensitive fabric marker to mark a line between the pins.
Make the drawstring hole

Step 5
Sew the Drawstring Hole

To reinforce the drawstring hole, take a scrap of fabric and use your washable glue stick to glue it down on the back side of the fabric right over where your drawstring hole will be.

If you prefer you could press a scrap of fusible interfacing there instead.

Now, using the buttonhole feature on your sewing machine sew a 1” buttonhole from pin to pin.
Sew the drawstring hole

Step 6
Sew the Sides of the Bag

Fold your fabric in half so that the outside is on the inside and the creases you made earlier are laying flat and lined up neatly near the top edge.

Pin the front and back together at the sides. Add as many pins as you want to make sure nothing shifts around while you're sewing.

Now, using a basic straight stitch, sew from the top of the bag to the bottom of the bag a ¼” from the edge on each side. Remove the pins as you go. Do not sew over them.

If you have a serger you can neatly finish the sewn edges of the bag by running a stitch right along each side.

Or, if you have some pinking shears, you can neatly cut the raw edges off the fabric with them, being careful to avoid cutting the stitches you’ve made. This will help to avoid having the fabric fray over time.

Or, if you can't be bothered with finishing those edges, that’s totally fine too. Over time they will fray but they’ll last plenty long for most uses.
Sew the sides of the bag

Step 7
Finish the Top Edge

With the bag inside out, fold the top edge down at the creases. First, fold the top edge down toward the inside (that is actually facing outward) at the ¼” crease you made in Step #3 then fold it down again toward the inside (same direction) at the 1 ½” crease.

Pin the folded fabric neatly in place.

Now, sew around the bag just above the bottom fold.
Finish the top edge

Step 8
Insert the Drawstring

Cut the drawstring to the size you want. It should be at least the width of the bag x 2 plus enough for tying a nice bow which might need an additional 15” or so.

Stick your safety pin through one end of your drawstring and then thread it through the buttonhole you made. Push it through the channel all the way around the bag until you can pull it out through the buttonhole again.

If you want to make sure the drawstring doesn't get pulled out of the bag as it’s untied you can secure it with a few stitches at the back of the bag to keep it in place.
Insert the drawstring
Now fill it with whatever goodies you want to and then, sew some more!

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