Tuesday 8 April 2014

Drawstring Shoulder Bag Tutorial...

How to make a Drawstring Shoulder Bag ~ tutorial by Threading My Way

I don't go anywhere without a handbag. I have several, mainly black and in different styles and sizes, but none are particularly large. If I have a lot to carry, I like to have a lightweight fabric bag in addition to my handbag. Today I'll show you how to make a drawstring bag that you can carry on your shoulder, together with your handbag.

How to make a Drawstring Shoulder Bag ~ tutorial by Threading My Way

Thanks, modeS4u, for supplying me with the fabrics used in this project:

  • 2 pieces - 16 inches x 18 inches (41cm x 46cm) - main colour for the exterior 
  • 2 pieces - 16 inches x 18 inches (41cm x 46cm) - contrast colour for the lining 
  • 2 pieces - 3 inches x 14 inches (7.5cm x 35.5cm) - contrast colour for the casing 
  • 2 pieces - 1.5 inches x 50 inches (4cm x 127cm) - contrast colour for the drawstring cords 
  • 4 pieces - 2 inches x 26 inches (5cm x 66cm) - main or contrast colour for the shoulder straps
  • 2 pieces - 2 inches x 26 inches (5cm x 66cm) - medium weight interfacing for the shoulder straps 

When cutting exterior and lining fabric:
  • 16 inches (41cm) = Width
  • 18 inches (46cm) = Height

All seams are 3/8" (1cm), unless otherwise indicated.

Sew the exterior:
  1. With right sides together, sew along the sides and the bottom.
  2. Neaten the edges.

Make the box corner
  1. Measure 1" (2.5cm) from the corner seam (don't measure from the edge of the fabric) in both directions and on both sides of the fabric. 
  2. Put a mark to show where 1" (2.5cm) is. You will have four marks. 
  3. Pull out the sides of your bag. 
  4. Place one seam on top of the other seam.
  5. Place the seams in opposite directions to reduce bulk. 
  6. Put your pin through the top mark. If the pin comes out through the mark on the other side, your boxed corner will line up. 
  7. If the pin is not coming out through the mark on the other side, reposition the fabric until it does. 
  8. With a ruler, draw a line across the fabric. 
  9. Take the pin out and hold the fabric in place. If you would like, hand sew to hold in place. 
  10. Sew across the line. 
  11. Cut the fabric and neaten. 
  12. Repeat for the other side. 
Steps 1 & 2: measure  1" from corner

Step 6: check that the marks are lined up

Step 8: draw a line to show where to sew

Step 10: sew the boxed corner

Finished boxed corner

Sew the lining
  • With right sides together sew each side seam, continuing around the bottom corners. 
  • Leave a gap of 3" (8cm), in the middle of the bottom edge. 
  • Neaten the edges.
  • Make boxed corners as per the exterior.

Make the shoulder straps:
  1. Place two strap pieces right sides together. 
  2. Place one piece of interfacing on the wrong side of one of the strap pieces. 
  3. Sew the long edges together. 
  4. Neaten seams. 
  5. With a safety pin, turn the strap to the right side. 
  6. Press the straps. 
  7. Topstitch 1/8" (3mm) from the edge of the seams. 
  8. Repeat for the second strap.
Steps 1 - 4: sew the strap

Step 5: turn the strap

Step 5: turn the strap

Step 7: topstitch

Attach the shoulder strap to the bag:
  1. Pin each end of the strap 3.5" (9cm) from the side seam, at the top of the bag on the right side of the exterior fabric.
  2. Baste (hand sew) into place and remove pins.
  3. Machine sew the strap to the bag. Go back and forth a few times for added strength.
  4. Remove basting stitches.
  5. Repeat for the other strap.

Attach the lining to the exterior of the bag:
  1. Place the exterior inside the lining. ie: the right side of the exterior is next to the right side of the lining.
  2. Line up the top edges of the lining and the exterior.
  3. Tuck the handles between the exterior and the lining.
  4. Baste (hand sew) the top edges of the lining and the exterior.
  5. Sew a 5/8" (1.5cm) seam to join the top edges of the lining and the exterior.
  6. Remove basting stitches.
  7. Reinforce where the handles join the bag. I find it easiest to sew a 2nd row of stitching inside the 1st and stitch back and forth a few times, when I get to the handles... saves stopping and starting.
  8. Neaten the seam.
Step 1: place exterior inside lining, right sides together

Steps 4 & 5: sew the lining and exterior together

Step 6: reinforce where the handles are

Turn right side out:
  1. Put your fingers through the hole in the bottom of the lining. 
  2. Gently pull the exterior out through the lining. 
  3. Topstitch the gap in the lining, or you can hand stitch if you would prefer. 

Topstitch top edge:
  1. Push the lining back into the bag. 
  2. Press the top edge of the bag. 
  3. Topstitch 1/8" (3mm) from the edge, around the top of the bag. 

Make the casing:
  1. Fold in half lengthwise, with right sides together. 
  2. Press
  3. Sew the raw edge and neaten.
  4. Fold over 3/8" (1cm) at either end and press.
  5. Turn right side out with a safety pin.
  6. Sew the short ends closed with two rows of stitching at 1/16" (1.5mm) and 1/8" (3mm). The drawstring will go behind not through this piece of fabric.
  7. Press.
Steps 1 - 4: sew casing

Step 5: turn right side out

Step 6: sew the ends closed

Attach the casing to the bag:
  1. Pin the top edge of the casing 2" (5cm) from the top of the bag. 
  2. Baste (hand sew) the casing and remove the pins. 
  3. Sew the casing to the bag through both the exterior and the lining fabric, with two rows of stitching at 1/16" (1.5mm) and 1/8" (3mm), from either side. Backstitch as you start and stop. Leave the short ends un-sewn.
  4. Remove basting stitches.
  5. There should be a small gap between the short ends of the casing and the side seams of the bag, to allow for the cords.

Make the cords:
  1. Join to make the length if necessary and press seams open.
  2. Fold the short ends in about 3/8" (1cm) and press. (Make sure you keep your fingers away from the iron and the steam if you use a steam setting.) 
  3. Fold in half lengthwise and press. 
  4. Open out so you can see the crease. 
  5. Fold each half in to meet the crease and press. 
  6. Fold in half again and press. 
  7. Sew 1/8" (3mm) from the edges. 
  8. Repeat for the second cord.
Step 2: fold over short ends

Step 3: fold in half lengthwise 

Steps 4 - 5: fold in each half

Step 6: fold in half and press

OR use a Clover bias maker. It's so much easier and quicker!!!

Thread the cords:
  1. Using a safety pin, thread the first cord through the front and back casings. 
  2. Thread the second cord through both casings. 
  3. Knot the ends of the cords together.
And you have finished making your own drawstring shoulder bag!!!
How to make a Drawstring Shoulder Bag ~ tutorial by Threading My Way

Although it's a rather long tutorial, the drawstring bag isn't hard to sew.

How to make a Drawstring Shoulder Bag ~ tutorial by Threading My Way

This is now my second drawstring shoulder bag. The first is not nearly as nice as my new one, but has been very well used. It's light to carry and can be folded to a reasonably small size when not in use. Yesterday I used my new bag for the first time. It was the perfect size to carry an umbrella, a drink bottle and a sweater.

How to make a Drawstring Shoulder Bag ~ tutorial by Threading My Way

And, the gorgeous Zen Blossoms fabric looks great against my black, leather handbag, when I carry them both on my shoulder.

I'll be adding my new bag to the collection of Drawstring Bags, here at Threading My Way.

If you make a Drawstring Shoulder Bag using this tutorial, I'd love you to share pics in the Threading My Way ~ Sewn by YOU Flickr group or leave me a link in the comments.

... Pam

Because of the drawstring cord and long straps, this bag is not suitable for children.


  1. Great bag,Pam!I like so much the fabric!!!

  2. I just made a large bag in patchwork a couple of days ago that is very much like this bag Pam. I need to get photos and post mine. Very nice bag and so easy to make too.

  3. Could you possibly make a YouTube tutorial if you haven't already on love this <3

  4. Great tutorial! I love your fabric choices. I'm a sucker for dots paired with another print. :)

    1. Thanks, Roxanne. Polka dots make great lining or contrast fabrics.

  5. The drawstring top is a really good idea! I have a bag I carry but the top doesn't close. Traveling recently, I wished it did. Thanks for the tutorial. It's definitely on my list. (and pinned, too!)

    You lush garden makes me so jealous. Our spring has been more like winter this year. There is still snow on the ground! It's nice to see some green, green grass.

  6. The fabric is gorgeous! The drawstring bag looks like it's very handy. I like that you can pull the top closed so that the contents stay safely contained. I've been grabbing typical tote bags here lately to stash snacks and toys for the little girls when we go to K's track meets and I'm always worried about losing something. Guess I need to make myself a drawstring bag!;)

  7. Lovely bag Pam and a great tutorial.

  8. Hi Pam, lovely bag and beautiful fabric! Nice to see you on the garden with your gorgeous bag :) !
    Happy Easter!
    Hugs from Portugal,
    Ana Love Craft

  9. Lovely bag and a well laid out and detailed tutorial, Pam. Thanks sew much for sharing!

  10. Great tutorial Pam and love seeing your cute pics!! I like the casing on the outside like that! Thanks for sharing.
    Freemotion by the River Linky Party Tuesday

  11. Beautiful bag and great tutorial Pam!!

  12. What a great bag! I love the fabric, too. Pinning on my sewing board.

  13. Lovely job on the bag! Thanks for the tutorial Pam!

    Thank you for linking up to Fabric Frenzy Friday!
    Fabric Frenzy Friday

  14. Great tute! Thanks for linking up to Inspire Us Thursday on The Inspired Wren.


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