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Drawstring Bag Tutorial

 Learn to Sew a Drawstring Bag - Beginner Sewing Project

I wanted to try making my own fabric for this bag with scraps and water soluble stabilizer. While it looks good, depending on the size of your stabilizer, it can be difficult to make a large enough square, and the layers of scraps make the “fabric” a bit thick for this bag, especially if it’s small. If you want to try anyways, here’s the steps I took:

1. Lay scraps out on a layer of water soluble stabilizer. Pin several pieces together if you need to make a bigger square. I used Sulky Solvy because it’s what I had at home. I’ve also seen Aqua Magic which is woven and therefore more stable. I think it would be easier to use.

2. Cover the scraps with another layer of water soluble stabilizer and secure with some pins. You can do this without the top layer, but the scraps have an annoying tendency to get caught up in the darning foot of the sewing machine and this step keeps everything under wraps.

3. Drop the feed dogs on your machine, use the darning foot, thread some pretty thread in the machine (I used a variegated rayon), and practice your mad free-motion skills. The quilt police will not be inspecting this, so don’t sweat it. Most important is that you stitch over everything enough to hold all the scraps together.

4. A sane woman would have stopped at step three, but I decided that it would be fun to couch some of the silk sari yarn I have over the top. It looks lovely with the batik scraps and bright colors, but for this little bag, it was just too much. I broke several needles sewing through all the thicknesses in later steps, so save this embellishment for another project.

5. Put your new “fabric” in the sink and wash the stabilizer off. A couple of rinses, and maybe some laundry detergent, will get rid of any gooeyness.

6. Here’s where we actually get to start making the Square Bag. You need two squares of coordinating fabric. Here’s my scrap fabric and a silky lining. For this bag I had to use a 17″ square due to the size of the stabilizer. The optimum size for your squares would be between 20″ and 25.”

7. With right sides together, sew the squares together around the perimeter, leaving an opening to turn it right sides out. I used a 1/4″ seam allowance. (For the patchwork bag I also inserted rick rack into the seam.) Turn right sides out and press smooth.

8.Top stitch the perimeter of the square. This step will sew the opening closed as well as giving the piece a nice, finished look.

9. Fold the square into thirds with lining side up. Sew an on-point square in the center where all three layers overlap. This will create little triangle shaped pockets on the inside of the bag.

10. Fold the bag in half, lining side out. Sew up the sides, close to the edge. Stop 1/4″ to 1/2″ from the top and backstitch to lock. In the photo, the left side is not yet sewn, but the right side is. This is also where I started to regret the thickness of my scrap fabric and wished I had just pulled two nice fabrics from my stash.

11. Squash the two bottom corners flat and sew across them. I broke several needles and lots of thread on this step. Note to self: Rayon thread is pretty for decorative stitching, but doesn’t hold up well for utility sewing like this. Now I am completely regretting the thick fabric choice, but hey, the bag is almost done and I have a half an hour before I need to pick the kids up, so I’m not turning back.

12. It should now look something like this.

13. Turn it inside out and it will look like this. See the little pockets?

Here’s another view where you can see the way the bottom is flatter now after sewing across the corners.

14. Cut two casings from lining fabric. They should be about 1 1/2″ inches wide and about the same length as the width of your bag. Press under 1/4″ on each of the long sides of the casings. Press under 1/4″ on the short ends and then turn them under again. Stitch down to finish the ends.

15. Position the casings as low down into the bag as you can. Ideally, the casings will line up with the open tops of the side seams. (Mine are a little high here due to the tiny size of the bag and the fact taht I was not paying as much attention as I should have. Sew the casings in place along the long sides. Back stitch at the ends to lock.

15. Cut two lengths of cording each 20″ to 35″ long, depending on the size of your purse. Thread one through one casing and then across the seam and back through the opposite casing. Tie the ends together.

16. Thread the other length of cording in the opposite direction so the ends are on the other side of the bag. Tie the ends together and you are DONE! Mine could be a cute little jewelry bag, but I think it’s destined to go to a certain little girl in the house. The patchwork one is large enough to use as an everyday purse.

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