drawstring bags

Make cute gift bags with this easy drawstring bag tutorial

We’re going basic today as I show you how to make a drawstring bag. 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
  • simple diy project bags for knitting or crochet

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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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 2
Small5″x8″Cut 2
Medium8″x10″Cut 2
Biggerish9″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.

sewing side seam on drawstring bag

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.

forming a casing for a drawstring bag

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.

finishing the edges 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.

stitch down casing on drawstring bag

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.

stitching drawstring inside casing

3 minute washcloth drawstring bag

washcloth drawstring bags

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.

cut washcloth in half

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.

Other ways to mix up a diy drawstring bag

Use this tutorial to make your own drawstring bags, but you don’t have to limit yourselves to using just cotton fabrics. Here’s a couple fun ways to make your diy drawstring bags a little more interesting:

  • Make a drawstring bag in velvet for a fancy bag for wine bottles
  • Print your own blockprinted fabric for customizable party bags or board game accessory bags
  • Make a drawstring bag in mesh for a pool bag
  • Cut your bag any size you need

So that’s how easy it is to make a drawstring bag. 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?

Yield: Makes 1 drawstring bag

How to make a drawstring bag

drawstring bags

Drawstring bags are such an easy sewing project for beginners. Learn how to make a drawstring bag with this simple drawstring bag tutorial. This might be the most versatile thing a beginner sewer can make!

Prep Time 4 minutes
Active Time 10 minutes
Total Time 14 minutes
Difficulty Beginner
Estimated Cost $


  • cotton fabric
  • ribbon/twill tape


  • scissors
  • elastic threader
  • ruler
  • fabric marker


  1. Use a ruler and fabric marker to draw 2 rectangles from your chosen fabric.
  2. You can cut diy drawstring bags any size, but here's some basic sizes to get you started: 2"x3", 5"x8", 8"x10", 9"x11"
  3. Put the fabric right sides together and sew down one long side. Finish the seam with a zigzag stitch or serger.
  4. Foldover the top by 1/4", press, then 3/4" and press.
  5. Make a clip right at the bottom of the fold on both sides. Fold this little bit of fabric to the side and stitch with a zigzag stitch.
  6. Stitch close to the pressed fold across the top.
  7. Fold the bag right sides together and stitch down the other side starting at the clips and across the bottom. Finish these seams with a zigzag stitch or serger.
  8. Turn the bag right side out. Press the bag.
  9. Thread an elastic threader through the casing at the top, then pull ribbon through to finish your DIY drawstring bag.
  10. That's how easy it is to sew a drawstring bag!


Other fun things to mix up your diy drawstring bags:

•make them in mesh

•make them from washcloths for a soap mitt

•Use them for laundry or toys

•Sew one in velvet for a fancy diy gift bag

•Make them any size you need

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