A drawstring pouch or bag is one of the simplest things to sew and yet also one of the most useful and versatile items a person could own. This combination of qualities makes it the perfect Christmas gift for a child or a beginning student of the needle to make.
Materials You Need
Cording, ribbon, or rope
Needle or sewing machine
Rotary fabric cutter
Step One: Choose Your Bag
Different size pouches have different uses. Smaller pouches can hold jewelry, store collections of small items such as buttons, or serve as miniature wristband purses to carry small items like keys and lip balm. Medium pouches serve as tote bags or store collections of toys. Large bags are especially handy for laundry bags.
Match the fabric to the intended job. Heavy uses such as tote bags and laundry bags need sturdier fabric, such as canvas or denim. Velvet or silk makes the bag elegant. Cotton prints make delightful casual pouches. Solid colors can be decorated.
Keep your sewing abilities in mind. Light cotton fabrics are easier to work with than canvas. Smaller drawstring pouches are faster and easier to make, especially for beginners and smaller hands.
Step Two: Cut Your Fabric
Cut two exactly equal rectangles. The best way to do this is to fold a large piece of fabric in half, or lay two pieces one on top of the other, and cut them simultaneously.
Eyeball the size based on your intended final use. A small pouch to use as a sachet might be a tiny 2 inches x 3 inches, while a laundry bag could easily use 1.5 feet of length or even more. For most purposes, the exact measurements don’t matter. What does matter is making sure you have a good rectangle, with straight edges and nice 90-degree corners.
That said, if you like book measurements, a fairly standard useful size is 5 inches x 6 inches for a typical small pouch.
Do keep in mind that the final pouch will be smaller than the pieces you cut. The short side will lose at least half an inch and the long side will lose at least an inch.
Use scissors or the rotary fabric cutter to cut the fabric.
Step Three: Make the Drawstring Tunnel
Lay each square in front of you with the back side up. Choose one of the two short sides to be the top of the finished pouch.
Fold down the cut edge of your top side a small but comfortable amount, perhaps a quarter of an inch. You are making a nice folded edge. Make sure that you fold down the exact same amount on each of the two squares – they must be even! Pin to hold the edge in place. Sew it closed, all the way across each piece.
Now take your finished edge and fold it down again. Measure it against the cord or other material you will be using for the drawstring by folding over two pieces of the drawstring material. You want the space to be large enough for the drawstring to slide easily through it, but not too much larger than the drawstring. Add leeway room to account for the stitching you are about to put in. Once you have determined the size of the fold, pin it and fold the other piece of fabric to match. Remember to make sure both pieces are exactly the same! Sew the edge in a straight line across the bottom.
If you have done this correctly, you should have a tunnel that you can string the cord through.
Step Four: Sew the Pieces Together to Make a Bag
Lay the two pieces together with the good side in and the wrong side out. Make sure that the two top pieces are together – this is the top of your bag. Also make sure you have lined the pieces up properly. Pin them together so they won’t move.
Sew along all three non-top sides, about a quarter of an inch from all edges. Start at one of the long sides, even with the stitching seaming your top tunnel. Sew down to the bottom, turn the corner, sew all along the bottom, turn the corner again, and sew back up to the top. End even with the stitching seaming your top tunnel. Do not sew your top tunnel closed, because you won’t be able to insert or use the drawstring if you do.
Take a moment to ensure that you did sew all the way to the line of stitching on both sides. The bag won’t look finished and nice if you leave it gaping open under the tunnel.
Turn the bag inside-out so that the good side of the fabric is now on the outside of the bag.
Step Five: Add the Drawstring
Cut two lengths of your cord or other drawstring material. Measure out the length needed for inside the bag when it is opened (that is, the length of the short sides of your pouch) plus however much additional material would make a nice handle.
Next, you will thread one of the cords through each of the two tunnels. Depending on the material the cord is made from, you may find it helpful to fasten a safety pin to the end of your drawstring. Insert the drawstring into the tunnel. Work it through until it comes out the other side by bunching up a bit of material, grabbing the tip of the drawstring, and pulling it forward. Thread it through the front tunnel, then thread it through the back tunnel, in a circle that ends up on the same side as it started. Remove the safety pin, if you used one. Tie the drawstring in a knot, or sew it closed, depending on the material in question.
Now, start on the other side. Thread the other cord through each of the two tunnels, in the opposite direction. Complete the circle and tie the cord, same as you did with the first one. Make absolutely sure that your two handles are the same length after knotting!
That’s it! Your drawstring pouch is complete.