How to Sew a Drawstring Bag (Even if You Don't Know How To Sew)

If you know how to sew anything more complicated than a straight line, this tutorial is not for you. Feel free to follow one of the many drawstring bag tutorials out there that assumes you speak fluent Sewing and are adept at the basics. My tutorial will be WAY too basic for you.

If you don't know how to sew anything more complicated than a straight line, and (like me) even that is iffy, you've come to the right place! Welcome and read on. I am optimistic that by the end of my tutorial, you will know how to sew a drawstring bag.


How to Sew a Drawstring Bag

1. Pick your material. Avoid anything slippery, silky, prone to snagging, super thick, or otherwise a pain to sew. In other words, choose a printed cotton. (I used a Mini-C 1815 by Timeless Treasures.)

2. Determine the size you want for your finished drawstring bag. Mine is 6" tall and 4.5" wide. Cut the fabric twice as long as the final length you want plus two inches, and a half-inch wider than the final width you want. So I cut my fabric into a rectangle 14 inches tall (6 x 2 + 2 = 14) and 5 inches wide (4.5 + 0.5 = 5).

3. Choose a coordinating cord for the drawstring. I used this (affiliate link). You will need TWO pieces of cord per bag, each a minimum of 3 times as long as your finished bag is wide. So my cords were about 13.5" (4.5 x 3 = 13.5).

4. Thread your sewing machine and bobbin with a color that goes with your fabric. I used black.

5. Heat your iron to the appropriate setting (cotton, if you followed my advice in Step 1). Even if you hate to iron, don’t skip this step. It makes the sewing so much easier. Put the fabric wrong-side up on the ironing board. Working with the long ends first, fold over 1/4” and iron it flat. Now do the same for the shorter sides.

6. Sew a line down the center of the folds on each short side. This will trap the folds on the long sides. 

7. Fold each of the short ends over 3/4” and iron them flat.

8. Sew the flaps closed by stitching along the seam that is already there. This will leave a large enough pocket to hold the cord. Backstitch each end to reinforce it.

9. Fold the fabric in half with the right sides touching. Orient the pockets you just created toward yourself. Starting at the fold, sew until just before you reach the pocket that will hold the cord and stop. Reinforce the seam. Repeat on the other side.  

10. Trim any threads and then turn the bag right side out.

11. Now it's time to feed the cords through the pockets. I was taught to do this with a safety pin, but it's much easier with a dowel (or a chopstick) because it is difficult to poke through paracord without unraveling it. Tape the end of one piece of cord to the dowel.

12. Thread the cord through one pocket and then the other until both ends are on the same side. Remove the dowel. 

13. Tape the second piece of cord to the dowel and insert it from the opposite side as the previous cord. Continue through the second pocket and out the same side where you started. Remove the dowel. Your cords should look like this:

14. Tie the two ends together on each side of the bag using an overhand knot. Cut off any extra cord close to the knot and use a match to seal the ends. 

As you might have guessed, these were gifts for the Beaver Patrol. I'm ridiculously proud of myself for figuring out how to make them and actually sewing something that Steve would want to give as a gift. I hope the tutorial has helped any of you who feel as incompetent with sewing as I do!


  1. Awww....so cute! LOVE the pattern on the fabric!

    P/s: Haven't used my sewing machine in a long time...hehe

  2. This is an awesome tutorial and I LOVE how they turned out!!! They look fabulous!!!!!

  3. You lost me at "measure"... bahahahahahahahaha! But that's not a reflection on you...it's totally me! The bags are really cute though. LOVE the pattern!

    1. You don't have to measure! You can literally cut out any rectangle you want, follow the steps, you'll have a bag. It might be a weird size and not especially useful, but it will work! (BTW, I totally eyeballed the measurements for mine. The seven bags are not all the same size.)

    2. Ooohh, sounds like something I can do then! ::thumbs up::


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