Monday, 3 February 2014

Draw string bag tutorial


As a small gift for a friend who is having a baby soon, i made her this draw string bag. Perhaps she will put laundry in it, or toys, or books for an outing, or nappy changing bits for when she is out and about. I chose colours that would match her nursery and made it up as i went along really! Here is the process i went through to make the bag, however feel free to adapt yours as that is the joy of these easy bags!


1. Decide how big you want your bag to be, I think this one was roughly 30cm x 45cm. You need to add 3cm to the width for seam allowances, and about 4cm to the length. I chose to have 3 stripes of fabric for this bag, but you can make it in one big piece. Depending on the stripes you choose, adjust the measurements accordingly. My seam allowances are 1.5cm, so add this onto any edge that will have a join. 

For this one, each strip of fabric measured approximately 63cm (the 30cm finished width doubled for front and back, plus 3cm seam allowance) by 18cm. I sewed the strips together using a straight stitch.  If you have an overlocked it is good to overlock all seams, or you could use a zigzag stitch on your sewing machine, or just trim with pinking shears to neaten the edges inside. 



2. You can now decorate your bag. I chose to do free machine embroidery on the center stripe. I am aiming for a shabby chic look to this bag, so i penciled the letters on, but then went a bit mental with the machine. If you are any good with hand embroidery this would be good too! My friends sur name is Mercer, hence the text 'Mini Mercer' as we do not know his name yet!

I also decided to sew on some felt bunting (sorry forgot to take a picture of this stage as i was getting carried away! haha). This involved cutting small triangles of coloured felt and i chose a zigzag stitch to stitch across the tops of them to make them into bunting. I continued this design on the front and back of the center panel. (check next photo)

I also top stitched the seams of the strips. Ironing the seam allowance towards the grey pieces, and then using a nice blue thread to stitch about 0.5cm along the top of the seam. You don't have to do this but i thought it would add a bit of extra detail. I also do not have an overlocker at the moment and thought it would help to stabilise the seam allowances. 


3. Once you have finished all the decoration you wish to put on, you can then fold the bag in half with right sides together and your designs on the inside. From the top, sew approximately 2cm down, then leave a gap and sew along the rest of the side and along the bottom with a 1.5cm seam. The gap you leave near the top is for the draw string bit.

Finish the seams with overlocking or zigzagging again, making sure to leave the edge of the gap at the top. 



4. To hem the top of the bag, now fold over the top edge 1cm, twice, this should catch the raw edge of the fabric in the fold so you do not see it. Make sure when you do it that the gap you left at the side is not at the top of the bag and still accessible. Im so sorry i didn't take pictures of this as that would probably help you but hopefully you get it!

Pin the the hem in place and stitch with a straight stitch, fairly close to the edge.

5. For the draw string itself, i used some wool that i am using for a blanket for the baby. I had three colours, white, blue and grey. You need string long enough to go through the bag, so twice the width plus about 20cm. For my bag this is 80cm. I plaited mine to add a bit of interest, so if you want to do this you need to add a little bit more to the length. You can always shorten it if you need to.

Use a safety pin to drag the string through the gap you have left and all round the top of the bag and back through the gap. TIP: Keep checking that the string is still attached to the safety pin as it is really annoying if you get it all the way to the other side and realise it came off half way round!

Tie the two ends together to secure. You should now be able to pull the strings to draw the bag closed.


Here is the final bag!



A few hints if you are a newbie to sewing:


  • At the beginning and end of each line of sewing, do a few reversing stitches. This will secure it so the stitches do not come undone. When teaching the kids at school i found myself constantly repeating myself... "Forward 4, back 4, then carry on". 
  • I have used a contrasting coloured thread (blue) for my top stitching and stitching the hem at the top of the bag. If you are not confident that your stitching will be neat, use the same coloured thread to your fabric so it is less obvious. 
  • Depending on the fabric you use it may be important to finish the edges of your seam allowances, especially if you are hoping to wash the bag! This can be just zigzagging along all the edges, overlocking or using pinking shears to stop them fraying too much.
  • If you are not confident at doing free machine or hand embroidery, how about just sewing on some buttons or beads? Or use some patterned fabric that doesn't need any decoration.

Well i hope i have inspired you to make your own draw string bag. They are super easy, quick and useful! I have a few that my mother in law made me in various sizes, some large enough for dirty laundry when travelling, some to hold special shoes in for the suitcase, and some i just put all my toiletries in. 

P.S If anything in my instructions have not made sense, please let me know! 

1 comment:

I love to hear your comments so keep 'em coming!! Feel free to post links to your own blogs if you think i'll like them too!