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Drawstring bag in blue floral cotton in an open field with blue skies

Make yourself a drawstring bag, ready for picnics and adventures this summer! It’s just the right size for popping useful bits and bobs into for a day out. You can adjust the length of the cord to fit a child, making it a useful size for PE kits. It’s a great beginner project, as this step by step guide doesn’t use any tricky rivets or eyelets!


  • Strong fabric, such as canvas duck, denim, cotton twill or upholstery fabric
  • Cord, 5mm thick
  • Sewing machine and basic sewing equipment including an iron
  • Thread
  • Grosgrain ribbon or tape, 2cm wide
  • Safety pin
  • Overlocker, optional
  • Fabric scissors


Close up of finished edges of fabric

Cut a piece of fabric 45cm long by 36cm wide, (or sew two pieces of fabric together to make a piece of fabric with these measurements). Finish the long edges of the fabric with a zig zag stitch or overlocker.


Pin marking 8cm from top of fabric

Fold the fabric in half right sides together and pin the long edges together. Place one pin 8cm from the open end of the bag.


Place folded ribbon between layers of fabric

To make the fastening for the drawstring handle, cut 2 lengths of ribbon 5cm long and fold in half. Sandwich the ribbon between the two layers of fabric, with the top end of the ribbon 3 cm from the folded bottom edge of fabric, making sure the raw edges line up with the edge of the fabric.


Close up of back tack stitching on bag seam

Sew the sides of the bag together, with a 1.5cm seam allowance, to the pin 8cm from the open end of the bag. Make sure you back tack at the bag opening end.


Seam allowance pressed open

Open the seam allowances at the open end of the bag and press flat.


Stitching at top of bag

Sew along the folded fabric 1 cm from the fold, starting on the left side of the opening. Turn the fabric (with the needle in and the presser foot up) by 45degrees, then sew across the seam, pivot again and sew back to the open end. Trim the thread.


Close up of folded fabric to create drawstring channel

Fold the top raw edge of the bag under by 1cm, and press. Fold the top edge down again, by 3.5cm, press and pin into place. This will make the channel for the cord to go through.


Top seam with back tacking

Sew over the folded channel, from the inside of the bag, 0.5cm from the second folded edge, making sure to back tack at each end.

Pro Tip

Pull your threads through to the inside of the bag and fasten with a knot for a really neat finish on the outside of your bag.


Birds eye view of seams being pressed

Give the bag a press on all seams.


Bag laid flat with cord drawstring

Cut 2 x 180cm lengths of cord (this length fits an adult, you may want to adjust for size) and using a large safety pin, thread it through the channel at the top of the bag from left to right, then go right to left on the other side of the bag. Repeat on the other side using the 2nd length of cord, starting from right to left, then left to right.


Cord handle fastened in knot and secured to the bag with ribbon loop

Making sure you have an even length of cord on each side of the bag, thread one end of the cord through the loop of ribbon at the bottom of the bag. Tie a firm knot with the other end of the cord, and repeat for the other side.


Finished bag with handle pulled tight

Firmly pull both cords on each side of the bag to close, your bag is finished and you are ready for an adventure!

Woman wearing a striped t shirt, bike helmet and a drawstring bag with her back to the camera next to a bike

Fantastic ways to decorate and personalise a drawstring bag

About the author

Teresa Bettelley profile picture

Teresa Bettelley

Teresa is a lifelong maker, and loves to embroider, make tiny happy things from felt, and colourful home accessories. You can find her drinking tea and sewing in her attic workspace, where she makes and dreams new ideas for her online shop, Shirley Rainbow. Her free time is filled with crochet, a bit of gardening and walking in the park. You can find her on Instagram @shirleyrainbow_tb and online at

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