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« Wool Felt Jelly Beans | Main | Whit's Knits: Crocheted Passover Yarmulke »

Easy Drawstring Bag

We made this simple drawstring bag to hold colorful felt jelly bean bags, but it can be used for a wide range of things. A custom gift wrap alternative, a travel bag, a knitting project bag and the list goes on and on. It sews up in less than an hour and works with any kind of fabric. A perfect use for those fabric scraps you've been wondering what to do with.

If you'd like to make some of the cute felt "jelly beans" pictured above you can find the Wool Felt Jelly Bean project right here

(Original) Materials


In July 2012 we updated this pattern with 4 additional sizes and stitched it up in some of our very favorite fabrics, including Kokka's timeless Small and Large Ginghams, as well as the slightly nubbly, handsome blues of Kiyohara's Upholstery Weight and Cotton-Linen Blend. To jazz up these classic colors and prints, we paired them with the richly textured, cotton-linen Fishtail Braided Cording and electric Neon Lacing.

(New) Materials

To make a x-small (small, medium, large, x-large) drawstring bag, measuring 5 1/2 (8 1/2, 11 1/2, 14 1/2, 17 1/2) inches wide:

The Pattern


The Trim

Cut two 20 (26, 34, 42, 48) inch pieces of trim for each drawstring bag. Place these to the side for now.

The Fabric

Using your rotary cutter and non-slip rulers, cut a rectangle of fabric measuring: 

6-inch wide by 12-inch long

9-inch wide by 18-inch long

12-inch wide by 24-inch long

15-inch wide by 30-inch long

18-inch wide by 36-inch long

For more help with this step, please see our Rotary Cutting tutorial.

Fold the rectangle of fabric in half the long way with right sides together to make a 6 (9, 12, 15, 18) inch square.


Starting at the fold, sew up the left and right side of the bag with a 1/4-inch seam allowance.  Stop 2-inches from the top on each side.

Drawstring channel

Working on only one half of the bag at a time, *fold and iron a 1/4-inch hem on the 2-inch portion of the fabric where you did not sew the seam (on the left and right sides).

Fold and iron a 1/4-inch hem along the top of the bag.

Fold it over another 3/4-inch as if to make a hem and iron (this will be the drawstring channel).

Sew along the bottom edge of the hem with a 1/6-inch seam allowance.

Repeat from * for the other half of the bag.

Make Gusset

Fold both corners of the bag so that the side seam of the bag is running exactly down the middle of the corner point. (Note: You will be sewing your gusset seam exactly perpendicular to the side seam.) You will want both gussets seams to be sewn at the exact same angle so that the gusset isn't askew.

Line up one side of your non-slip ruler with the drawstring channel edge. Using your water soluble marker, draw a line approximately 1 (1 1/2, 2, 2 1/2, 3) inches down from the point of the corner.  Repeat on other corner making sure your marks line up with the first corner.

Sew along the marker lines. Cut off the fabric corners below the seam to reduce bulk. Turn the bag right side out.

Thread ribbon through channel

Attach a large safety pin to the end of one of your alphabet ribbons.

Thread it through the drawstring channel on one side of the bag and then back around the other side so that you have both ends of the ribbon on one side.  Repeat with the other ribbon starting on the opposite side of the bag.  Leaving approximately 4 1/2 (4 1/2, 5, 5 1/2, 5 1/2) inches of the ribbon on either side, tie the ends in a knot and cut off excess.

The bag will cinch when you hold the knots on either side of the bag and pull outwards.


Reader Comments (34)

Great tutorial. My bag looks awesome and works great!
April 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKate
Just wanted to offer a variation to this GREAT little bag. Instead of gusseted corners, keep the corners square and top stitch the bottom corners diagonally about 1.5" from the point and put eyelets in the corners. Then you can bring the drawstrings down to the eyelets, thread them through and knot them to make a great little backpack. I made two in this style for my niece and nephew - a great, super easy gift. Thanks for the tutorial Page!
April 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer B
just made three of these bags in about an hour and a half. nice tutorial and adorable bag. i also skipped the gussets and made french seams to keep the inside of the bag nice and neat and clean. they're lovely and i'll definitely make more.
June 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjulie green
thank you so much for this great project!
I'm a beginner so it was a wonderful help to see the whole process step by step.
Greetings from Croatia!
August 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMaja Marci
i couldn't agree with Maja more! i'm a beginner too and started teaching myself with cute bag/tote ideas. i made a few draw string bags to use at the grocery store for my produce items. making them out of muslin to keep the weight minimal so it doesn't affect the scales. i couldn't find any instructions that allowed me to easily sew a good channel for the draw string so i taught myself button holes - i call mine frankenstein button holes cuz that's what they look like. LOVE your instructions here and can't wait to create a new vegetable bag with this much easier process. i'm adding your site to my sewing RSS feeds. thanks!
August 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDeNacho
Thank you for the wonderful tutorial! I just made one of these for my husband's role playing dice so he can transport them more easily for his games. It's perfect, turned out wonderfully and I haven't sewn with a machine in ages! Thank you again, I'll be posting on my own blog and telling the world how wonderful you are!

March 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRosemamie
Thank you so much for this excellent pattern! I too needed a bag for my RPG dice and this is perfect!
April 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKimber
I have been looking and looking for a yellow upholstery and I love this! do you have more? or know where I can get some more? I need enough to make a couple large pillows. I would really appreciate it. thank you!
April 30, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterhillary collette
Thank you very much, this is a wonderful bag!
May 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnne
Hi! I was just wondering if you minded me using using these instructionals to add to my own website. I'm not a professional, but I thought this idea was amazing. If you do mind me using this EXACT instructional, then would it be okay with you for me to only use the main picture (not the instructional pictures), and completely revise your entire instructions for me to post on my own website. Please reply in the comments section. I will not use ANYTHING from your websites until you reply to this message. Thanks!

The Crafty Girl:)
June 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe Crafty Girl :)
Hi Crafty Girl,
You may not copy our instructions or photos on your website. If you would like to use one photo of the completed bag and provide a link for your readers to direct them to our website for the instructions that would be fine.
Please let us know if you have any questions.
June 10, 2010 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Just wanted to thank you for these instructions...I am a non-sewer but just made a very nice drawstring bag for my daughter to use as a gym bag this school year. I skipped the gussets and added some zigzag stitch on the seam to make it a bit more hardy, but did everything else as instructed and it turned out fantastic! Thanks for the very clear instructions and pictures.
September 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJen
I am not a sewer and could not wrap my head around what seemed to be such an easy feat....making a draw string bag! The lady at the fabric store actually laughed in my face when I asked to buy a pattern for a drawstring bag (basically implying that I was a moron) This tutorial was so easy to follow and I want to thank you so much!
October 14, 2010 | Unregistered Commenternewbee
I have now made about six of these bags for anything and everything. The instructions are perfect and now every birthday gift and loaf of bread goes into one of these! Thanks.
February 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGwen
I loved this bag and as a beginner I felt very proud to accomplish my first project. To do a lining, would you just make the bottom part of the bag and then just sew it in at the top?... or is it much more complicated than that?
May 2, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkatie
HI Katie-

You definitely have the right idea. Adding a lining in a bag like this is often just a matter of making another bag and laying it inside the first, wrong sides together, In this case you might want to make the lining separately and then hand sew it in at the very end. That way it won't get confusing with the drawstring channel of the outer bag.
Please let us know how it goes!
May 3, 2011 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Love the bag - as it is a copyright pattern, could you please tell me if I can sell the bags that I make - I sometimes sell my hand made bits and pieces at a car bootsale. (I don't run a business.)
June 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHandy Maid
Hello Handy Maid-

Thank you so much for the nice question and comment. All of our patterns are intended for personal use only and cannot be sold. Thank you for asking.

Best Wishes- The Purl Bee
June 10, 2011 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
Your tutorial is just perfect! Thanks for sharing, especially for those not as "seasoned" as ones who have sewn a long time. This is such a great little bag, and I hope to help my grandsons make some this summer! After all, boys can learn to sew, too!! What a fun project, and not too difficult for children.
Thanks again! Have a great week! :D
June 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdiane mcvey
Hi! This looks perfect! What would the dimensions of the finished be, please?
August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTanya Rousseau
Hi Tanya-

The finished bag should be about 12.5 inches wide by 12 inches tall.

Thank you for your question!
August 25, 2011 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
I just made my first bag - thanks for the detailed tutorial!! Your site is addictive and encouraging to a new sewer like myself. Thank you for the good ideas and instructions.
September 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPamela
Hi, I made this bag today in less than 1/2 an hour. Thanks so much for the tutorial!!
September 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterShas
What a great little bag! I, too, have just made one in less than 1/2 an hour. Could you please let me know how many yards of ribbon you used for the tie? I've made mine in purple and black giraffe spots for my daughter's friend's birthday present. I just have to get some ribbon now for the drawstring. I hope she likes it as much as I do! Thanks for the wonderful ideas. I plan to make logcabin washcloths for Christmas presents and I think I'll make some more of these bags to put them in.
October 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAgapanthus
Hi Agapanthus-

3 yards of ribbon will be enough for the ties.

Thanks for your nice comments and your question!
October 20, 2011 | Registered Commenterpurl bee
I just made a larger version of this to hold a throw I knit, a wedding gift for a dear friend. Thank you for creating and generously sharing this pattern. It was easy and exactly what I needed to make a gift bag. Gratitude!
May 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStephany
I love, love, love this bag!!! I made 5 of these out of the most adorable owl fabric as "favor bags" for my daughter's birthday party and they were a huge hit. Thanks so much for sharing such a nifty and easy to make project!
June 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAngie Jackson
Thank you so much for this tutorial! I'm a complete beginner and found this so easy to follow. I think the bag is fantastic just as you show - especially the gussets.
I will definitely make more of these :)
July 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnn
I made a few of these as part of the bridesmaids' gifts for my wedding. Among other things, each girl got a shoe-size drawstring bag stuffed with a pair of flip flops.
July 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCaroline
Thank you so much for this, they are delightful!
Have just made a couple of the smallest size to put bead necklaces in as little extra birthday gifts for my daughter.
July 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHelen
excellent tutorial! i just made one of these bags this morning for a gift, and it came out perfectly. i am by no means a proficient, so thank you for the assistance!!
August 11, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjen
Love these instructions and the idea - I can think of all kinds of uses. I am not a professional sewer but this looks like it is going to be easy to follow.
November 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFlorence Horan
I'm a first-time sewer. I was wondering what you use the cotton frabric for? It's never mentioned in the instructions but listed in the supplies.
February 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterArielle
Hi Arielle-

We sell all the fabrics we use in our projects and they are linked in the materials section. The yellow fabric used here is an older print that we no longer carry but you can see all of our cotton fabric here:

Thank you!

February 17, 2014 | Registered Commenterpurl bee

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