Sew a gift bag

Sew a drawstring gift bag

We show you how to sew a useful drawstring bag that is finished neatly inside and stands on its own. A quick make, this is a great project to try if you want to learn a couple of seam finishes (turned under edges and french seam) or perhaps you just want to find a good use for some of your scraps!

Make one for a special gift or sew up a batch to store toys, cosmetics, crafting supplies or anything else you need to contain. 

To get started you'll need the fabric you want to use for the bag plus some cording, ribbon or string. We recommend starting out with quilting cotton or another stable fabric if you're a beginner. Cording is an excellent choice for the drawstring as it's usually durable and easy to thread. 

Materials for the bag

To keep things simple we used a sheet of US Letter paper as our pattern. You'll need to cut out two rectangles of your chosen fabric. The narrow edge of the paper is the top or bottom of the pattern piece. 

Cut out the fabric

Once cut out, on one piece of fabric mark 2 7/8" and 3 3/8" from the top of the fabric on the side of the rectangle. Repeat for the opposite side of the same piece of fabric. 

Mark your fabric

Place the fabric pieces right sides together. Sew the side seams leaving a gap between the two markings. Repeat for the other side. 

Sew the side seams

Once sewn press open the side seams. 

Press open the side seams

Fold under the seam allowances so that the raw edge is hidden. Press in place. 

Fold under seam allowances again

Time to sew down those seams! Sew a straight line of stitches from the top of the bag to the bottom close to the folded edge of the seam allowance. Note that you will be able to see this stitching on the right side of the bag, you might want to choose a matching thread to blend in or a contrast colour to stand out!

Go slow and make sure you manoeuvre your fabric so that you are not sewing the back of the bag to the front. You might have to roll the fabric and create a little donut to get the seam stitched from the top to the bottom.

Repeat for the other side. 

NOTE: if you choose to change the proportions of your bag you might find it tricky to complete this step if you make the pattern piece smaller. 

Sew down the seam allowances

Take your project back to the ironing board and press 1/4" to the wrong side of the fabric. Make sure you are folding at the top of the bag.

You can work out which end is the top by finding the hole in your side seam - it should be closer to the top than the bottom. 

Press down top edge

Fold back the top of the fabric again by 1 5/8". Press. Now your raw edge is enclosed and you are ready to make the channel for your ribbon/cord. 

Fold back top again

Sew two lines of stitches around the top of your bag. The first line should be 1 1/2" from the top of the bag. The second row should be 5/8" from the top. The two lines of stitches should sit either side of the holes in the side seam which are on the outside of the bag. 

Sew the channel

With your bag the right side out it is now time to sew up the bottom of the bag. Put the bottom of the bag wrong sides together and sew along 1/4" from the edge. 

Sew first part of french seam

Now turn the bag inside out. Push out the corners of the bag gently and press along the bottom edge of the bag. Now sew a second line of stitches 3/8" away from the bottom edge.

You have now created a neat french seam where the raw edge of the fabric is caught inside the seam.

Sew second part of french seam

Let's create those box corners that allow the bag to stand up. 

The aim is to match up the side seam with the bottom seam. Pull apart the bag at the corners and take your time to feel to line up those two seams. Now take the fabric to the sewing machine and sew a line of stitches 1" from the edge straight across those two seams while they are lined up on top of one another. 

Sew the box corners

Repeat for the other corner.

Turn your bag the right side out and admire those corners! We're nearly there, you just need to add the cord in the channel.

Measure out two lengths of cord/ribbon/string. Each piece needs to be longer than the width of your bag times two. The width of this bag is 7" so I cut each piece of cording to be 18" long. This gave me enough length to thread the bag and then tie a knot and also have some length of cord exposed even when the bag is fully open. Your cord should be less than 1/2" wide to be able to pass through the channel.

Using a safety pin, thread the first piece of cord in through one of the holes in the side seam. Thread all around the entire diameter, coming back out the same place you started. Knot the ends together. Repeat for the other side. Trim the ends of the cording to neaten.  

Thread the cord

And that's it! Bag complete. Pull those cords tight and admire your work.

Now it's time to fill it with gifts and goodies!

Completed drawstring gift bag

Neat box corners

Let us know if you make one (or many) of these cute little bags! And don't forget to tag us on social media (@oursocialfabric). 

 

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