Learning to sew – the tale of the drawstring bag

Sista and I have successfully completed our first sewing project.  A drawstring bag.  It was a bit of a gong show, but we’ve lived and learned and now I can share the secrets with you.


  1. When embarking on your first sewing project since your 13 year old horrible attempt at a pillow made from scraps in the High School Home Ec room – it’s important to have a mantra.  Sista and I agree, the best mantra in this case is – “It’s just a drawstring bag.”  This will get you through all the trials and tribulations to come.
  2. When you go to the fabric store, be prepared for short tempers and generally unhelpful staff.  Someone actually yelled at me.  It was not related to the drawstring bag, but if it was I would have said “Lady, relax.  It’s just a drawstring bag”
  3. It’s important to read the instructions.  Also, determining if you are reading centimeters but thinking inches is key as well.
  4.  A “Fat Quarter” is a piece of fabric that is about 50x56cm
  5. A Half Metre is a piece of fabric that is about 50x100cm.
  6. Here’s a handy diagram to demonstrate – A Fat Quarter is not a half-metre. Fat-Quarter-explanation
  7. Not even close. 
  8. When you have had it with the unfriendly staff, wrong fabric, and generally hideous options head to the city, find a local SMALL fabric store and browse there.  This will go much better. 
  9. Get some cord – for the drawstring.  As I learned – you should check to see if the length of cord that you have purchased is whole or sneakily cut and taped together with masking tape that happens to blend in.  You will notice that one side of the drawstring is significantly longer than the other… this is not a camera trick or the result of pulling it closed.  Sure the cut was roughly in the middle… roughly is the key word there.
  10. Choose a fabric, treat it (i.e. wash it) and cut out as per the instructions.
  11. It will quickly become apparent if you are a good straight cutter – as per Sista, or a terrible crooked cutter as per moi.
  12. Don’t worry – it’s just a drawstring bag.
  13. Make your marks to fit the drawstring
  14. Sew up some sides
  15. Iron.  No one likes a wrinkled drawstring bag – but if you forget this part don’t worry because it’s just a drawstring bag.
  16. Feed the drawstring through
  17. Voila.










The perfect drawstring bag
You now have a perfect drawstring bag… or you don’t in which case – don’t worry at least you tried.
My drawstring bag was intended to be Gordon’s travel bag but since I’ve made it she hasn’t really done any travelling.  Alas, earwax.  Drawstring bags also make great knitting project bags.  Not to ruin the surprise or anything but I’m predicting drawstring bags for everyone this Christmas!
Sista and I have finished our sewing class and I’ll write a couple more posts about our other two projects, a zippered pouch (which is basically a pillow case) and a skirt.  Oh the skirt.  You think I had problems with a simple drawsting bag – just wait.  Just wait.