The Bothered Owl

Alex and Sarah's crafty corner of cyberspace

How to make a super quick drawstring bag July 11, 2010

Filed under: Tutorials — thebotheredowl @ 9:50 am
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Today we’re off to Orlaith’s friend George’s 4th birthday party. I asked his Mum what he would like for his birthday. He has told his Mum and Dad that he likes “bangles, headbands, necklaces and anything pink.” She suggested some art supplies perhaps, with some fabric pieces thrown in so they can do some artwork together over the holidays.

Inspired by my recent purchases for Orlaith, I’ve snagged him a bunch of generic art supplies, but what to put them in?

What better than a lovely pink patchwork drawstring bag?

To make this bag you will need:

A pile of fabric scraps. (You can make it from whole cloth if you like. I went with patchwork to get extra pink for my pound!)

Scissors, thread, pins, interfacing etc

Ribbon, bungee cord, string etc for your drawstring

Step One: Choices, choices

My bag had to be pink. I wanted to choose pink fabrics that would not be all butterflies and flowers, although George likes both those things as well.

For some one who doesn't really 'do' pink, I have an awful lot of pink fabrics

It took me a while to find the right bits but eventually I settled on some lovely icecream sundae fabric with a pale pink background, and some gorgeous summery stripes.

Step Two

Choose how you will put your fabric together.  I chose to go with three long panels of slightly differing widths. I sewed them together lengthwise using a straight stitch.

This is what I ended up with:

Like summer personified

You need to make two of these, one for the front, one for the back.

One extra point here, regarding interfacing. Those of you who are observant may note that my fabric pieces have interfacing on them – that gauzy looking white stuff all over the back of the fabric.  But I haven’t mentioned interfacing as a step. This is becaue I’m working with leftover fabric from other projects and it has all been pre-interfaced by Alex, my handy dandy interfacing slave helper monkey partner.

Interfacing is good stuff, if you haven’t used it before. It will give your bag extra strength and durability and make it able to withstand bullets and leap tall buildings in a single bound. If your fabric scraps are not already covered in interfacing, sew your patchwork  pieces together first, then apply the interfacing afterwards, as this will strengthen your patchwork seams.

Step 3

Choose your lining fabric.  Since you’re making a patchwork bag, it’s best to wait until you’ve made up the patchwork bits before cutting your lining. That way, you can use them as a template for sizing your lining.

I chose a deep rich blue that would contrast really strongly with the icecream-y pink of the outer fabric.

Cut two lining pieces:

I like the richness of this blue

Step 4

You’re now going to sew the side and bottom seams of your bag. You’re going to need to leave a small gap at the top of one of your seams to allow for your drawstring to be threaded through when you’re finished, like so:

Lay your front and back out pieces together, wrong sides (i.e. the sides with all the stitching and interfacing)  facing out.

To make the gap for your drawstring, place a pin at least one inch below the top of the fabric. I usually go with an inch and a half to two inches because you want plenty of room for your drawstring and it also gives you plenty of room for a nice seam allowance.

Then sew your side seam, starting from just below the pin, all the way around the bottom of the bag and up the other side.  I didn’t get any photos of this step, but if you check out my other bag making tutorial, there should be some pics in there, if you get stuck.

Step 5

We’re going to finish off the edges of the little gap you’ve left for your drawstring.

Using your fingers, tuck the raw edges of the left side othe fabric under slightly and finger press them in place. You can use pins but I find them awkward.

Place the top left edge of the fabric under the foot of the machine and lower the foot, then sew down to where your seam starts. You’ll need to hold the tuck in place with your fingers as you sew.

You can just see the top of the seam, right at the bottom of the photo.

Leaving the needle in the fabric, lift the foot. You will need to roll the right side of the seam under before you continue sewing. Pivot the fabric, lower the foot and continue sewing across the base of your drawstring gap.

Then turn again and sew up the right side, holding the tucked under edge in place with your fingers as you go.

Remember, don't sew your fingers!

Now do the same for your lining fabric. If you want to make your bag fully reversible, repeat the instructions for making the drawstring hole, otherwise just sew the seams right to the top.  You’ve effectively made two bags. Now you just need to join them together. Not as hard as it sounds.

Step 6

You now have two bags, ready to be joined together. I didn’t get any photos of this step when I was making George’s bag, because I am a dimwit. So instead, you will have to make do with the photos from my Christmas pouch tutorial. The technique is identical.

The two bags

Turn one of them right sides out:

Place the right sides out bag inside the other one like this:

Tuck the right sides out pouch inside the other one. Now when you sew it, the stitches will actually be one the wrong (invisible) side of the pouch. Amazing!

See how the bags are now effectively right sides together? Now when you sew the bags together the seams will all be hidden away neatly.

Sew all the way around the top. You don’t need to leave a gap for turning the bag the right side out because of the hole for the drawstring. Use this little hole to turn the bag the right side out:

See how you draw the inside bits out through the hole?

Like some kind of weird double pillow case

Tuck the lining inside the outer shell and push the corners out. Smooth everything down and make sure the top of the bag sits neatly.

Step 7

The final step is to make the casing and insert  your drawstring.

Find the bottom of the gap you left for your drawstring. Following a line all the way around the bag from the base of that hole, place a row of pins to mark where you need to sew. (After you’ve done a few of these you can actually do this by eyeballing it, particularly if you’ve used a geometric print. ) Then following that line, sew all the way around the bag in a neat straight line.

This line of stitches will stop your drawstring from just dropping down inside the lining of the bag.

Now, you will need a darning needle or a nappy pin. Take your drawstring and loop it through the eye of your darning needle or through the nappy pin. Then insert the pin into the casing through the drawstring hole.  You’re gong to push and pull the needle (and thus the drawstring) all the way through the casing, bringin it back out through the drawstring hole. Secure the two ends of the drawstring together in a knot.

And here’s a picture of the finished bag for George

I chose a pink and silver glittery ribbon for the drawstring and I stuffed the bag to the gunnels with plasticine, glitter and lots of fabric off cuts. I hope he will like it!

Now, we’re off to the party.


EDITED TO ADD: The party was fab and by all acounts George really, really, REALLLY liked his present. So much so, that at the end of the party he disappeared back into his house with his Mum, feeling overwhelmed. She came back later on and said he was sitting onthe floor upstairs, clutching his bag, surrounded by all the things that were inside, just looking at them. I am so chuffed he liked it :->


One Response to “How to make a super quick drawstring bag”

  1. Hello! Just visiting from Twitter (I’m @karamina). I love this idiotproof tutorial – I always need drawstring bags, so I’m bookmarking this and I’ll be giving it a go (and blogging about it) soon!

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