Thursday 13 November 2014

Drawstring Bag to Hold a French Knitting Kit...

Looking for an inexpensive crafty gift for a little someone. How about a French Knitting Kit? Don't just stop at the kit, add a skein of wool and whip up a drawstring bag to keep everything together. Today's tutorial will show you how to make a lined drawstring bag with boxed corners, that's just the right size for one large skein of wool and a French Knitting Kit.

How to make a lined Drawstring Bag with contrasting fabric ... the perfect size for a French Knitting Bag ~ Threading My Way

We all did French knitting at some stage while we were kids. We either had a wooden cotton reel, with nails hammered in to wind the wool around, or, if you were lucky like me, we had a Knitting Nancy. In recent years, I've seen classes full of kids, each using a toilet roll with paddle pop sticks taped on, to create French knitting.

I picked up the French Knitting Bee at Lincraft for less than $10 and I've also seen them at HobbySew. This particular set also comes with a pom pom maker. Very fancy.. we used to improvise with two pieces of cardboard. Depending on the size of your French knitting kit, you may need to alter the dimensions of the bag.

Finished size of bag:  7.5" x 4" x 7.5" (19cm x 10cm x 19cm) (width x depth x height) 

  • 2 pieces 3" x 12" (8cm x 30.5cm) main colour for the exterior of the bag - top gathered part
  • 2 pieces 7" x 12" (18cm x 30.5cm)  - main colour for the exterior of the bag - bottom section 
  • 2 pieces 2" x 12" (5cm x 30.5cm) - contrast colour for the exterior of the bag
  • 2 pieces 11" x 12" (28cm x 30.5cm)  - contrast colour for the lining
  • 2 lengths of cord 30" (76cm) drawstring cords

All seams are ⅜" (1cm), unless otherwise indicated. I didn't need to use any pins for the sewing of this bag. If you find you need to pin the seams while sewing...
  • pin
  • baste (hand sew with a long stitch)
  • remove pins
  • stitch seam with machine
  • remove basting

Sew the exterior:
  1. With right sides together, sew the long edge of the 2" x 12" (5cm x 30.5cm) contrasting fabric (red) to the 3" x 12" (8cm x 30.5cm) main fabric (hearts).
  2. With right sides together, sew the other long side of the 2" x 12" (5cm x 30.5cm) contrasting fabric (red) to the 7" x 12" (18cm x 30.5cm)  main fabric (hearts).
  3. Neaten seams.
  4. Press seams toward the contrasting fabric (red).
  5. Topstitch using a slightly longer stitch.

  1. With right sides together, sew the side seams, leaving a ½" - 1" (1.5cm - 2.5cm) gap in the middle of the (red) contrasting strip. This will be the opening for the drawstring casing. The width of the opening will depend on the width of the cord. If in doubt, make the opening larger rather than smaller.
  2. Backstitch where you start and stop.
  3. Sew across the bottom.

  1. Neaten each side of the side seams separately by opening out the edges. I wouldn't skip neatening the edges for this step, as it will prevent stray threads from coming out with the drawstring cord.
  2. Secure the drawstring opening, by sewing back and forth a couple of times at both ends of the opening.
  3. Stitch the seam on either side down. With steps 2 & 3, you are basically sewing a square around the opening.

Make the box corner
  1. Measure 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 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. 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. 
  6. If the pin is not coming out through the mark on the other side, reposition the fabric until it does. 
  7. Remove the pin and repin to hold in place while ruling a line.
  8. With a ruler, draw a line across the fabric. 
  9. Remove the pin 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. 
Step 1: Measure 2" from corners

Step 6: check that the marks are lined up (Forgot to photograph this step. Photo from another project)

Step 9: Draw a line to sew along.

Step 10 - 11: Remove pin and sew.

Finished boxed corner.

Sew the lining
  • With right sides together sew each side seam, continuing around the bottom corners. 
  • Leave a gap of about 3" (8cm), in the middle of the bottom edge. 
  • Probably not necessary, but I neaten the edges. Open the bottom seam and neaten separately, otherwise you will sew the opening shut.
  • Make boxed corners as per the exterior.

Attach the lining to the exterior of the bag:
  1. Place the bag inside the lining. ie: the right side of the bag is next to the right side of the lining.
  2. Line up the top edges of the lining and the exterior.
  3. Sew the top edges of the lining and the exterior.
  4. Neaten the seam.

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

  1. Push the lining back into the bag.
  2. Press the top edge of the bag.
  3. Topstitch ⅛" (3mm) from the edge, around the top of the bag, using a slightly longer stitch. I set my machine to 2.8

Drawstring Casing:
  1. Stitching through both the exterior and lining, sew around the bag, starting and ending at the top of the opening for the drawstring. Line up the the edge of the bag with something on the machine to help keep the stitching straight.
  2. Repeat step 1, starting and ending at the bottom of the opening for the drawstring. Line up the second row of stitching with the first row.

  1. Using a safety pin, thread the first cord through the entire drawstring casing. Both ends of the one cord will come out of the same opening.
  2. Repeat with the second cord and the second opening.
  3. Knot the ends of each cord.
The cords might be a little hard to pull the first couple of times. If you find this happens, just pull and loosen a couple of times.

How to make a lined Drawstring Bag with contrasting fabric ... this tutorial will show you how ~ Threading My Way

That's it. You've finished your drawstring bag. I deliberately made the top gathered section quite wide. If you would prefer, you could easily alter the dimensions to make the usable part of the bag larger and the gathered section smaller. 

I don't crochet, but I image this would be a good size to carry a small crochet project, together with wool and crochet hook.

How to make a lined Drawstring Bag with contrasting fabric ... the perfect size for a French Knitting Bag ~ Threading My Way

Did you do French knitting as a child? I remember spending much time with my Knitting Nancy, but I have no recollection as to what we did with the long tubes of knitting that we created. I think we had competitions to see who could make the longest.

If you make a drawstring bag using this tutorial, I'd love you to share pics in the Threading My Way ~ Sewn by YOU Flickr group, leave me a link in the comments, or add it to the ongoing Drawstring Bags link party, here at Threading My Way.

... Pam

Because of the drawstring cord, this bag is not suitable for children under 3 years of age.


  1. I remember doing this as a child. We did not call it French Knitting. I can't for the life of me remember what we called it, but I had a spool with nails on the top. Again I love the little drawstring bags. I have all my supplies. Now to get to sewing them.

  2. I love the little bag; the fabric is so cute!

    1. Pam, I am making a couple of these for teacher gifts. I made potholders for the women and making these bags to fill with goodies for the male teachers. I have some great masculine-type-looking fabric I am using! I have tried boxing bottoms before and never get both sides the same; I didn't know what I was doing. Your tutorial is awesome because now I know how to do that perfectly!

  3. How funny Pam, I can remember French knitting with a spool too but have absolutely no recollection of what I did with the tubes either :)

    Excellent tutorial as always!

  4. Oh I remember doing this as a little girl! What a wonderful gift idea. Thank you for the tutorial.
    Michelle :o)

  5. Oh my gosh - OnceUponASew copied my comment - hours before I typed it ... LOL!! I had one too, as a kiddo, but it was just a plain plastic tube with metal thingies on top. I can't remember what it was called way back then, but I remember what I used to make with it - Barbie clothes! I made dresses (wow they would certainly have been form fitting, LOL!) but I don't recall what else I would have made!

  6. Pam I have been busy making drawstring bags this week too. I am using a different tutorial, but I have made several bags. Fun and easy to make and useful too. My knitting group does a yarn exchange each Dec. and last year and again this year, I will put my yarn in a drawstring bag to give. We play a game so i never know who will get mine.

  7. Yes, I do remember french knitting, but we didn't call it that. I don't remember what we called it! We had the wooden spools with nails on top, and I had forgotten all about it until you mentioned it! :) LOVE the boxed corners on the bag! Beautiful, and a great gift!

  8. Please show how the French knitting kit works. Have never heard of them.

    1. This YouTube video shows how to do French Knitting, Mary Ann. She's done with paddle pop sticks and a toilet roll, but the concept is the same with a bought kit...

  9. I'll put you guys out of your misery. When I was a kid, we did something like french knitting and it was called corking or spool knitting. so much fun.

  10. What a great idea to give to a little crafty person. I'm sure many people could find a use for one of these little bags. Popping in from Creative Mondays.

  11. lovely bag, the material is so sweet :)

    Thanks for linking up @Creative Mondays

  12. Wonderful tutorial Pam and I remember have wooden spools with nails around them!!

  13. Definitely need to pin this one, great tutorial

  14. Lovely way to package a small crafty gift. Thanks for the tutorial!

  15. I remember this type knitting. I recently bought a new kit for me. Of course I think the bag would make as a reticule one of those little bags women carried in the late 1800s.

    1. Talking about bags carried by women in the past, has reminded me of a little crocheted drawstring bag that I used to carry when I was in my teens. I used it as a handbag.


Thanks for stopping by! I love reading your comments and try to reply to all of them via email. If you don't receive an email reply from me, check back here.