Make Cute Gift Bags With This Easy Drawstring Bag Tutorial

We’re going basic today with this easy drawstring bag tutorial. I love simple drawstring bags.

They’re a great leftover fabric project, they’re quick to make. Best of all, it’s simple straight line sewing, so this is an awesome project for beginners. Shoot, you can make them with your kids so they can get their hands used to using a machine.

Plus drawstring bags are super versatile. Here’s a few things you can use a simple drawstring bag for:

  • gift bags
  • lingerie bag for the wash
  • protect a favorite pair of shoes in your suitcase
  • hold your glasses
  • a gift card holder
  • soap mitt
  • lip balm holder
  • drawstring backpack

So let’s walk through the basic drawstring bag tutorial, then I’ll show you how to make an even easier version with washcloths.

Dig you up some cute cotton and let’s get going.

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Table of Contents

Supplies for this drawstring bag tutorial
  • Cotton fabric
  • 1 yard Twill tape, foldover elastic, ribbon, bias tape or something similar for a drawstring
  • ruler
  • scissors/rotary cutter
  • sewing machine + matching thread
  • Chopstick
  • Elastic threader ( this is the best one!)

Cutting your fabric

To start off, you need to cut 2 rectangle pieces for every bag you’re making. Here’s 4 sizes to choose from, although note that you can cut 2 larger rectangles if needed.

Itty bitty2″x3″Cut 2Small5″x8″Cut 2Medium8″x10″Cut 2Biggerish9″X11Cut 2
What types of drawstrings do I need?

You can use just about anything for a drawstring. The point of the drawstring is so that it gathers the top of the bag when you pull on it. That’ll keep everything you’ve put inside the bag secure.

Twill tape works well for drawstring bags like this, though I really like foldover elastic as well. Foldover elastic is very soft and it ties into a good secure knot. Other choices for drawstrings include ribbon, bias tape, leftover fabrics, knit fabric, clothesline, paracord and the list goes on.

Here’s how to make a drawstring for an extra DIY touch.

For each bag, you won’t need more than a yard of your chosen drawstring material. For the itty bitty size, a few inches is all you need.

How to sew a drawstring bag

First things first, place your fabric right sides together and sew down one side with a 3/8″ seam allowance. Press the seam.

Finish off the seam with a zigzag stitch or a serger if you have one.

Make the casing

Next you need to make the casing. The casing is the part of the top of the bag that the drawstring gets threaded through later on.

First press 1/4″ the top edge of the bag towards the wrong side. After that, fold down 3/4″ more of the top edge. You’ll see a 3/4″ wide band of the fabric on the wrong side now.

On each side, make a 3/8″ clip right at the bottom of the folded fabric.

Unfold the fabric and press back 3/8″ towards the inside of the casing.

Stitch this little piece of fabric down with a zigzag stitch (5.0 mm width, 1.5 mm length).

Finish off the casing by folding back the pressed edges as they were. Stitch down the casing close to the pressed edge.

Sewing the drawstring bag body

After this, you’re almost done. I told you this was a super easy drawstring bag tutorial!

If you like, you can serge around the sides and bottom of the bag now. It makes for a little cleaner finish, but if you don’t have a serger, no worries.

Either way, fold the sides of the bag right sides together. Sew across the bottom of the bag and the sides with a 3/8″ seam allowance. Backstitch at the beginning and end of this seam.

When you get to the bottom of the casing, stitch right into that clipped edge and into the casing by a stitch.

If you didn’t serge the edges, go ahead and finish off the seam with a zigzag stitch.

Finishing the bag

From here, flip the bag to the right side. Use a chopstick and your fingers to tease out the corners.

After that, grab your elastic threader. Thread it through the casing.

Next, thread the eye of the elastic threader. Pull the drawstring back through the casing.

Tie the ends of the drawstring together in a nice secure square knot.

To keep the drawstring from falling out, stitch through the casing along the top side seam. This will anchor the drawstring inside the casing and save your sanity later.

3 minute washcloth drawstring bag

Now for an even quicker drawstring bag variation made from washcloths.

Use these for new babies. They’re simple little washing mitts you can pop over your hand. You can also slip in a bar of soap and it makes an easy little washcloth for kids to use. The foldover elastic even acts as a hanging loop inside the bath for easy storage.

Now how to make it.

How to sew a washcloth drawstring bag

First, fold a washcloth in half. Cut along the fold. Pull off or cut the tag too.

Next, press 3/4″ to one side of the washcloth.

Stitch right down close to that finished edge of the washcloth.

After that, fold the wrong sides together and stitch from the bottom of the casing down the sides and the bottom with a 3/8″ seam allowance.

You only need to finish the bottom edge of the bag. Do so with a zigzag stitch or a serger just like before.

Thread it with a piece of foldover elastic. Tie off the elastic and you’re done.

So that’s how easy it is to make your own drawstring bags. It’s a great anytime project. I know I’m looking forward to being able to bake a batch of cookies and drop them off at friends’ houses inside a cute bag! How will you use yours?

Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.

The author may collect a small share of sales from the links on this page.

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Join the conversation

 1 comment
  • Greyssis Greyssis on Jun 19, 2021

    I absolutely love the washcloth drawstring bag idea. I make soaps (right now, just melt and pour, but I’m hankering to make some cold processed soaps for everyone for Christmas time). I have several scents that are wonderful and molds that are super cute. The washcloth bags are perfect to make for gifts to hold the soaps. In the past, I’ve knit a couple of scrub bags for the soap bars for the shower, but I like this idea better. They’re much faster and easier (I’m a slow knitter), and you can put the ends of your soap inside and your soap will last even longer. Thanks for the great ideas!

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