Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sewing the Easiest Ever Lined Drawstring Bag

Recently, Madeline (age 6) asked me to teach her how to knit. That will be so much fun! We'll probably start over her Christmas vacation; she's in first grade and is pretty busy right now. I already have the needles and yarn, and I'd like to make a bag for her to keep her knitting project in. I'd like for it to be easy to open and close and for her to be able to carry it by the straps on her wrist. It stays open when it's open, and it stays closed when it's closed. Before we get started, here are the needles and yarn:
Did you see the kitties on the ends of the needles? Here's a close up:
1 piece of fabric for the outside of the bag
1 piece of fabric for the lining
2 pieces of grosgrain ribbon
2 ribbons or cording or shoelaces (Note: It must be thin enough to fit through the grosgrain ribbon after the ribbon is stitched down.)

Here's a picture of grosgrain ribbon; you can see the "ribbing" texture and that the edges are finished. I always save grosgrain ribbon from wrapped packages to use in sewing projects.

Before we start, I'm going to decide on the dimensions of the finished bag.
Finished length/height: 12 in. to accommodate her knitting needles and some yarn
Finished width: 9.5 in.

Math ahead (but easy):
Finished length x 2 plus 1/2 in. seam allowance x 2
(Mine is 12 x 2 = 24 + 1 = 25 in.)
Finished width plus 1/2 in. seam allowance x 2
(Mine is 9.5 + 1 = 10.5 in.)

So I need to cut 2 pieces of fabric (one for the outside and one for the lining) 25 in. long x 10.5 in. wide.

When I'm sewing, I like to think ahead at least a step or two. My next step will be to sew those two pieces of fabric together, right sides together, leaving an opening to turn. So after pressing the fabric, lay out the fabrics on the cutting mat as follows: lay the outside fabric right side up and lay the lining fabric fabric right side down, on top of the outside fabric.
Using my rotary cutter and ruler, I made four cuts so that I have two pieces that are 25 x 10.5 in.
Again planning ahead, before I lift the fabric, pin the two layers together. (Isn't that nice; now you don't have to match up the layers before sewing!)
The red clips are my reminder
to leave this part open.
Stitch all around with a 1/4-in. seam allowance, leaving a 4 or 5 in. opening for turning. Be sure to secure the stitching at the beginning and end. (I backstitch.)
Needle position is one notch to the right of
center position for 1/4 in. seam allowance.
Trim corners.
Press to set the stitches into the fabric. At the opening for turning, fold back the fabric even with stitching line and press along the 1/4 in. fold line. Repeat with the other side.
Reach into the opening with your hand and turn right side out. Use a skewer or something similar (I used a Size 15 knitting needle) to push the corners out. Be gentle; don't push too hard.
Push the knitting needle into the corner.
Press. Stitch the opening closed, very close to the folded edge.
This is how it now looks:
Cut two pieces of ribbon, each the width of the lined fabric.
Turn under and press 3/8 in. at each end.
Zigzag the folded ends to secure the raw edges.

Pin the grosgrain ribbon to the outside of the lined fabric. (I pinned mine 1.5 in. from the edges.)

Stitch along both long edges of the ribbon to the fabric, very close to the edges, leaving the ends open. Reinforce the stitching at the beginning and end of each row of stitching. I double backstitched mine. Repeat at the other end.
The stitching is very close to the edges.
Fold the bag in half, right sides together, and pin, then sew each side from 1 in. from the top to the bottom. Reinforce the stitching at the beginning. Repeat on the other side.
The arrow points to where
I begin the stitching.
Turn the bag right side out. Use a skewer or something similar (I used a Size 15 knitting needle) to push the corners out. Be gentle; don't push too hard. Press.
The grosgrain ribbon is close to the seam
but not included in the seam allowance.
Cut 2 pieces of cording, each the width of the finished bag x 2 + 6 in. I cut mine 25 in. for my bag, which is 9.5 in. wide.

Thread one piece of cord through the grosgrain ribbon and continue around and slide it through the second grosgrain ribbon. Slide until both raw ends are even. Tie the ends into a knot. Repeat with the second cord, but this time, begin at the halfway point side of the first cord. As for the first, slide the cord until the ends are even. Tie the ends into a knot.
One cord (upper) starts at this seam allowance and
the other cord starts at the other seam allowance (lower).
I'm ready when you are, Madeline!
I'll also include this little poem in the bag, laminated, with one verse on each side:

How to Knit
In through the front door
Once around the back
Peek through the window
And off jumps Jack.

How to Purl
Under the fence
Catch the sheep
Back we come
Off we leap.
~ ~ ~
Of course, this bag can be made in any size. What size will you make? What will you use it for?

Note: I edited all of my photos to be 325 pixels wide, but they appear all different widths here. If anyone knows what I need to change to get my intended result, please share. Thanks!

Blessings and peace...


  1. Sandra - How adorable! I'm wondering how I would get that cording through the grosgrain ribbon... Hmmmm What was your technique? This is a fab tutorial! I didn't know you knit, too!

    JDol from SG

    1. I am rereading your comment and wonder if you meant how to work the cording through. My previous comment was about selecting cording and ribbon. To work it through, I use a "needle" (it doesn't have a sharp end) that has an eye large enough to fit the cording through. (I just looked but didn't find a picture of one online.) I pull it through a bit, then use the needle to work it through the ribbon. Hope this helps!

  2. Hi Jo Lynn, thanks for your comment. The technique is mostly about matching cording to ribbon. You can take a piece of ribbon, roll it into a circle on the lengthwise, pinch it closed, and try various cording thicknesses to see what will work. I have used shoe laces (!); rat tail cording, which is a narrow, rayon I think, shiny, sleek cording; and anything else I have around that would complement the bag. I also use various widths of ribbon. I sew the ribbon *very* close to the edge. I hope this helps!

  3. Were these all done by you? It is an awesome job.

  4. Hi Fashion Bags, Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a nice compliment. Actually, it's only one bag--I took pictures of the process as I went along.

  5. you have done an great job ,amazing...