Making a flat-sitting draw string bag (any size)

two large bags with title "flat sitting drawstring bag".

This pattern was developed because I needed something to store and carry a sleeping bag. Once I made one, I had ideas for more in other sizes. Following these simple instructions, you can make your own bag. With hundreds of size variations, you will be sure to get exactly what you need.

Fabric Requirements

This bag can be made with either knit or woven fabric. There are some minor differences in how you handle them, so I have noted those in the appropriate steps. The amount you need will vary greatly depending on size, so you will have to determine that yourself.

small drawstring bag with spools of thread.

1. Choose your size.

The bag is made with two pieces – a circle and a rectangle. The circle is the base of the bag and the rectangle makes the sides and the top.

circle and rectangle cut from pink fabric

The first step is to decide what size you want the base of the bag to be. Bowls and plates make great circle templates. Just remember that there is a half-inch seam allowance included, so choose a circle a little bigger than what you want in your finished product.

Trace the circle on fabric and cut it out.

The width of the rectangle you need is determined by the diameter of the circle (how wide it is). Measure the diameter and find the closest measurement on the chart. If it is in- between two numbers, use the smaller number. 

chart with numbers to calculate the width of the rectangle as determined by the diameter of the circle.

The height of the rectangle you need is determined by how tall you want the finished bag to be. Find the finished bag height on the chart and it will give the rectangle height.

chart to determine the height of the rectangle determined by the height of the finished bag,

Once you know the dimension, cut out the rectangle. With knit fabrics, make sure the stretch is going vertically.

2. Prepare the pieces

If you are using a woven fabric, finish the edges of the two pieces with a zig zag or overlock stitch. This will save you from having to finish them after construction.

3. Stitch the side seam

Fold the rectangle in half lengthwise right sides together. You will probably want to double check which is the length and which is the width, because they might be close in size.

measure the side seam to mark for the drawstring channel.

Mark the fabric 1-1/4 and 1-3/4 from the upper edge.

Place a few pins to hold, then stitch with a. 1/2” seam allowance. Do not stitch between the marking. For knit fabrics, use a narrow zig zag or stretch stitch to stop so they don’t pop during use.

pinning the side seam of the bag for stitching.

Press the seam open.

Top-stitch the seam allowances down on either side of the opening. 

stitching down the seam allowances.

If you hate how that looks, the top stitching is optional, but it will make it easier to put in the drawstring.

4. Stitch the drawstring channel

Fold down the top edge 1-1/4 inches to the inside of the bag, and stitch with a 1” hem. 

hemming the bag to form the drawstring channel.

On very small bags, you might wish to make this smaller, but you will have to adjust the rectangle size.

5. Join the base

Fold the circle into quarters, and mark with pins. Do the same to the bag sides.

marking quarter points on bag base and sides.

Pin together at the quarter points. For a larger bag, you will need to add more pins between these.

It might look like they won’t fit, but remember you are stitching with a 1/2” seam allowance and that is where the pieces need to line up, not at the edge of the fabric.

stitching the base onto the bag.

Stitch together. Take your time and go slowly. Adjust if needed as you go and it will work out.

6. Insert the drawstring

Turn the piece right side out and insert the drawstring.

You can use whatever you want for the string. For a large utility bag, you will want something heavy like rope or cord. For a small decorative bag, you can use ribbon. 

Cut the length you want. It just has to be longer that the width of the rectangle.

Feed it through the channel with a safety pin.

open small pink drawstring bag.

Tie a knot in the ends of the drawstring to secure them.

You’re done!

Special tip: If you are making a very small bag use fabric with a bit of stretch. It might be easier to hand stitch because the pieces will be difficult to fit in the machine. 

You can make small ones to be party favours or a large one to be a Santa sack full of presents.

two large drawstring bags.

If you have leftover fabric, you can make one as a purse to match a little girl’s favourite dress.

It’s also a great utility bag for camping supplies or laundry.

finished drawstring bag.

I’m sure you can think of lots of ideas for your own use!

Elizabeth DeCroos - Epida Studio.

Elizabeth DeCroos

Elizabeth DeCroos is the designer and teacher at Epida Studio. She loves to work in quilting, pojagi and embroidery and teach these techniques to others.
Learn more and get her to speak to your group.

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