Friday, January 7, 2011

Tutorial: reversible drawstring bag

Owen got this puzzle at Christmas. It's pretty cool. The puzzle pieces are actually the shapes of the states. Good for the budding geographer. Not so good for states like Delaware or Rhode Island when there are two kiddos and two cats in the house! We needed a way to make sure none of state pieces went rogue and left to form their own country (no doubt with all of the lost socks from the dryer).

A puzzle bag was what we needed! If you want to make a fun reversible drawstring bag too, here's what you'll need:

fabric for bag (outside and inside - both cute if you want your bag reversible!) - size will depend on how big you want your bag
*Note: my fabric measured 26"x18", which will fold in half to make a bag that is 13"x18")

one 1.5" strip of fabric for casing (should be double the width of the top of your bag, minus two inches)
* my casing strip measured 24"x1.5"

cording/drawstring (the width of your bag plus about 10 inches)

two small pieces of fusible hem tape (optional)

one spring cord lock

sewing machine, thread

*Note: all directions assume a 1/4" seam unless otherwise noted.
If you've never seen one before, this is a small spring cord lock. At my local fabric store, they have them with the trims, webbing and cording for about 50 cents.
If you're like me and you cut your casing strip the same width as your bag fabric, be sure to trim those two inches off so that when you lay them out there's a one inch difference at each end like this:
Take your casing strip and lay one of your small pieces of fusible hem tape at one end like this:
Fold the end over again and press in place. If you don't have any fusible hem tape you can just do a small double fold and stitch it, but I (often) have issues when trying to sew teeny tiny pieces like this because my machine like to suck them down into the stitch plate and get them all mangled. So yay! for fusible hem tape!

Now your casing should look like this:
Fold it in half and press.
Now lay out your outer fabric and find the center (I do this by simply folding it in half and doing a slight finger press). Find the center of your casing strip as well. Match the center points so that the raw edge of the casing is lined up with the top edge of the outer fabric.

It will look like this at each end:

Next, take your inner fabric and lay it face down (so that you have right sides of the two bag fabrics facing each other) and pin in place. You should have a nice little sandwich of outer fabric, casing, and inner fabric. Stitch along the top securing all three layers.

When you're done stitching you should have something that looks like this if you open it up and lay it out flat:
With everything all laid out flat, fold it in half like this (right sides together):
Be sure to line up the seam where the casing is stitched because this will be the top of your bag. I always start pinning there because I know that's where matching the seam is most important. Pin all the way around and stitch, leaving a small opening in the inner fabric for turning.

Clip the corners.
Turn right side out so you now have something that looks like this:

And tuck in whichever side is your lining. Press the top edge all the way around taking care to keep the inner and outer fabrics from creeping up around the casing.

Topstitch all around the top of the bag. Hand stitch the opening you left for turning. I use a ladder stitch but you can use whatever you like. Just remember to keep it pretty! If you ever want to reverse your bag, this stitching will be visible.

On to the drawstring (you're almost done!) I put masking tape around the ends of the drawstring to stop fraying and make it easier to handle.

Thread one end through your spring cord lock by pinching it and threading the string through the hole.
Attach a safety pin through the other end and thread it through the casing.

When you get all the way through, remove the safety pin and thread this end through the spring lock. Again, you'll need to pinch the cord lock open and guide the drawstring through the hole in the clasp.
Tie a knot in each end of the drawstring cord and clip off the tape tails.

You did it!

Here's one side of our new puzzle bag:

And here's the bag turned inside out:

The moment of truth:

Yay - it fits!

I hope everything was clear. If you have any questions, just let me know. As always, if you make anything from this tutorial I'd love to know about it!


  1. I need to make about a dozen of these! Love the tutorial.

  2. Beautiful job, Megan! Easy to follow and so complete! Thank you. Great photos! I gotta try this!

  3. That casing had me baffled for a minute, but seeing the finished object it totally makes sense. Maybe I'll have to mix up my drawstring casing method (usually I do an unlined bag and utilize buttonholes for threading purposes).

  4. genial ma grande quelle bonne idee bises


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