Wednesday 18 February 2015

Drawstring Gift Bag Tutorial

I know it's only February, but I've made some small, reusable drawstring gift bags ready for Christmas. My aim is to pace myself throughout the year, making at least one item for Christmas each month. Today's tutorial will show you how to make your own small gift bags.

Small, Reusable Drawstring Gift Bag TUTORIAL... Make a reusable bag for gift giving. Step by step instructions showing you how. ~ Threading My Way

Included with today's tutorial, at the bottom of the post (Giveaway and link party are now closed):
  • Giveawayassorted 2m lengths of vintage cotton Christmas ribbon from Sarah at Crafty Trimmings
  • Ho Ho Ho and On We Sew link party where you can add your own Christmas makes for 2015

You can, of course, use Christmas fabric for your gift bags, or you can choose fabric the recipient might prefer to use throughout the year. I've used quilting cottons for all the bags in this post. The two above were made last Christmas; one to gift a child's watch and the other, some jewellery for a young lady. Thanks to Little Ladybird for the photo. Any fabric that's not too thick would work.

For the two you'll see in the tutorial, I chose to use fabric that looks Christmassy, without actually being Christmas fabric. Due to the flat bottom and their small size, they stand by themselves, even when empty as in this photo - no interfacing or batting needed.

Finished size of bag:  4.5" x 1" x 5" (11.5cm x 2.5cm x 13cm) (width x depth x height) 

  • 2 pieces 6" x 6" (15cm x 15cm) main colour for the exterior
  • 2 pieces 6" x 6" (15cm x 15cm) - contrast colour for the lining
  • 2 lengths of cord 16" (41cm) 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. On both long sides measure and mark ¾" (2cm) from the top edge. Make a second mark ½" (1.3cm) below the first. 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. With right sides together, sew from the top edge to the first mark. Backstitch to secure.
  3. Backstitch as you start and sew from the second mark down the first side.
  4. Stop with the needle in the down position 3/8 inch (1cm) from the bottom edge.
  5. Lift the presser foot and turn the fabric 90º.
  6. Lower the presser foot and sew across the bottom, stopping with the needle in the down position 3/8 inch (1cm) from the side edge.
  7. Lift the presser foot and turn the fabric 90º.
  8. Lower the presser foot and sew the 2nd side up to the lower mark. Backstitch to secure.
  9. Backstitch as you start and sew from the next mark to the top.
  10. Press, or finger press, seams open. 

  1. Neaten each side of the side seams separately by opening out the edges (pinking shears, zig zag). 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 rectangle around the opening.

Make the box corner
  1. Measure ½" (1.3cm) from the corner seam (don't measure from the edge of the fabric) in both directions. 
  2. Put a mark to show where ½" (1.3cm)  is. You will have two marks for each corner. 
  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 hold in place.
  8. With a ruler, draw a line across the fabric. 
  9. Sew across the line. 
  10. Cut the fabric and neaten. 
  11. Repeat for the other side. 
Step 1: Measure ½" from corners
Step 5: check that the marks are lined up
Step 6: check that the marks are lined up
Step 8: draw a line to sew along
Finished boxed corner.

Sew the lining
  1. With right sides together sew each side seam, continuing around the bottom corners. 
  2. Leave a gap of about 3" (8cm), in the middle of the bottom edge. 
  3. Press, or finger press, the seams open.
  4. Neaten each side of the side seams separately (pinking shears, zig zag). Open the bottom seam and neaten separately, otherwise you will sew the opening shut.
  5. 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.

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. This will be about ⅛" (3mm) from the top edge.
  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.

That's it. You've finished! The tutorial is rather long, but sewing up a little drawstring bag is really quick and easy.

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.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, my aim is to pace myself throughout the year, so there's no mad rush come Christmas time. To help with motivation, I'm aiming to join in with Ho, Ho, Ho and On We Sew throughout the year. Each month there will be...
  • a link party where everyone can add their Christmas makes
  • guest hosts with a tutorial for a Christmas / holiday-themed gift or home decoration item
This month Ho Ho Ho and On We Sew is right here at Threading My Way, just a little further down the post.

Small, Reusable Drawstring Gift Bag TUTORIAL... Make a lined, reusable bag for gift giving. Step by step instructions showing you how. ~ Threading My Way

Crafty Trimmings
This month's giveaway prize is this lovely bundle of assorted 2m lengths of vintage cotton Christmas ribbon from Sarah at Crafty Trimmings  -->>

If you want to be the lucky winner of this beautiful vintage cotton Christmas ribbon, all you need to do is link up your Christmas / Holiday makes for this month. At the end of the post. The winner of the bundle will be randomly drawn when the Link-up closes at 24.00GMT on February 28th.

Giveaway closed: The winner is Sally, from Wonky Patchwork, who entered her Robin Quilt.

Thanks to our lovely sponsors we also have random giveaways for some lucky linkers throughout this year too.

Crafty Trimmings

Logo Sew HotPlush Addict Logo

Quilting Fabric at the Fat Quarter Shop

I'm looking forward to seeing the projects linked up. If you're new to Threading My Way, welcome.

... Pam

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


  1. You have inspired me. Such a quick and easy project that I really should do. As you say, a little each month and you will have a stash of them ready to go. Not just Christmas but gifts throughout the year.

  2. Lovely project! I must make one to hold my jewelry in my bag.Thank you for sharing a perfect tutorial.


  3. 'Love these bags! How clever you are to get ahead of the Christmas Rush! -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

  4. Fabulous size! I think those could work for birthday gifts and Christmas gifts because of your clever choice of fabric. :)

  5. Pinned and tweeted it. It looks like a good project with my girls.

  6. Oh, one more thing, even before I opened your post, I was listening to instrumental Christmas music!

  7. Gorgeous little bags Pam. I love the idea of adding beads on the drawstring! And so good of you to get organised for Christmas this way. I like that idea and think I might follow suit myself!

  8. Flat bottom drawstring bags would be perfect for gifting presents in. Thanks for sharing, Pam! I've pinned the post for future reference.:)

  9. Thank you for the tutorial! It's so clever that the packaging becomes part of the gift, very useful and they are also so pretty!

  10. I can just picture a bunch of these little in a row under my tree. Those boxy bottoms are perfect.

  11. Lovely little bags, Pam! They are really perfect for gifts!
    Hope you have a wonderful day!
    Hugs and love from Portugal,
    Ana Love Craft

  12. Thank you for this "great tutorial", great pictures and well explained!!!! Love the fabric !!!
    Is on my list of things that I want to do.
    Have a nice and creative day:)
    Marisa from

  13. Lovely bag and well explained! I'm pinning it so I don't forget!

  14. Perfect project for getting ahead Pam! Thanks for adding another great project to the Ho Ho Ho and on We Sew archives :)

  15. Pam, I really enjoyed the bag tutorial and I am pinning to my sewing and quilting tutorials board! I have plans, most every year, to start in January with Christmas gifts, etc. You are so smart to do this, as I usually fall short of my goal and go crazy the last month or so before the season!

    Have a beautiful weekend, Pam!

  16. I did not think of lining a drawstring bag, but this will definitely make it gift worthy! Great tutorial!

  17. Fun bags, thank you for sharing.

  18. Gorgeous gorgeous, fab tutorial so easy to follow!

    1. Thanks so much. I'd love to see a photo if you end up making one.

  19. Those are lovely, I've never tried making them with flat bottoms!

    1. The flat bottoms take a little more time, Anna, but they're not difficult.

  20. Thanks for inspiring me to make this little bag! I stayed up late to complete it. Today, I got some grosgrain ribbon and now it's finished. Just posted it to your flicker group.
    I will definitely make more.

  21. Easy to follow tutorial, so thanks. this is such a useful idea and can make in many sizes. I'll try some.

    1. Thank you. It's very easy to adapt and make different sized bags.

  22. I am not great with a sewing machine but I think I could follow this! Thanks.

  23. Love this flat bottom design so you get a bag that sits so well, thank you, I do tend to make quite a few gift bags so will definitely try it this way.

  24. I would love to make this myself - your instructions were so clear!

    1. Thanks, Elnel. If you make a bag, I'd love to see a photo.

  25. HELLO, how cute would these little Christmas Bags be for Family, instead of Stockings this next Christmas! Thanks for sharing!

  26. Love this DIY, I will be featuring it tomorrow at Tuesdays with a Twist, please come by and take a peek. Thanks and have a great day. :-)

  27. Pam, the colors and patterns are just wonderful. You never cease to inspire me- thank you! :)

  28. I can think of so many uses for these cute bags. Your tutorial is awesome! Thanks for linking up at the Stitch It, Blog It, Share It Link Party! I hope you come back each Sunday night at 7 to share your sewing talent.

  29. These bags are so cute! I love the brightly colored fabrics! Thanks for sharing at Submarine Sunday!!

  30. Lovely!! These are so cute; I made one very similar for my tarot cards; the tutorial will be on my blog tomorrow (5 december 2015), if you want to have a look!!

  31. Hey pixel, now you can see my bag post properly:

    I could not post it until this very moment due to technical problems; I'm sorry
    I hope you like it ;)

  32. Such a cute drawstring bag! Thanks for the tutorial! Thank you so much for sharing at my craft party on Thursday! I just pinned all your entries. Would love to see your newest posts this week, which starts at 7pm EST.

  33. Hi, Pam! How cute they look with the different fabric linings! Thanks for the awesome tutorial, what a clear way you have of laying out the steps!

  34. Lovely fabric designs and a helpful tutorial as always. Very pretty and useful as a gift.

  35. Pam, I had always wondered about how to make the perfect drawstring hole and this post has given me that tip! I didn't know you could sew a square and then unpick the seams!


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