Enjoy this peak inside Bits of Thread sewing studio with our lovely host Allison Lince-Bentley. She writes, "I have been sewing since I was seven years old, but my life as a sewing instructor began just a couple of years ago when I started teaching sewing and fashion design programs for youth in community centers around DC. What got me hooked was the sense of delight and empowerment my students felt once they saw what they could do with a sewing machine and some patience. Sewing is a skill that not only lets you explore your innate creativity, but is also practical and useful, a combination that makes it a very rewarding hobby and art form."
Learn how to make a lined drawstring bag and share in the simple joy of whipping up your own works of art via a sewing machine. Love, love, love DIY.
2 pieces of fabric, each 8” x 16” (one will be the outside of the bag and one will be the lining)
18 inches of ribbon or cord
1 Safety pin
Step 1: Cut the Fabric and Ribbon
Cut 2 pieces of fabric, one for the outside of the bag and one for the lining. Each piece should be 8” wide and 16” long. If you would like to make the bag smaller or larger, just change these dimensions accordingly. Cut 18” of ribbon and attached a safety pin to one end.
Step 2: Fold & Pin the Fabric
Fold each piece of fabric in half with the right side (i.e. the bright side) on the inside. Your lining and your outside fabric should be dealt with separately, so that you end up with two pieces of folded fabric, each 8” wide by 8” long after folding. The folded part will become the bottom of the bag, so place pins on the two sides, leaving the top open and unpinned. Do this for both the lining and the outer fabric. You will be sewing along the edges you have pinned.
Step 3: Sew the Sides of the Outside Fabric
Sew all the way down one side of the outside fabric, using a 5/8” seam allowance and backstitching at the top and bottom of your seam. On the second side, do the same, but don’t backstitch at the top. Set the fabric aside.
Step 4: Sew the Sides of the Lining
As before, sew all the way down one side of the lining fabric, using a 5/8” seam allowance and backstitching at the top and bottom of your seam. On the second side, only sew about 2/3 of the way down, leaving a gap of at least 2” open (i.e. unstitched) near the bottom.
Step 5: Sew down the Seam Allowances for the Drawstring
Get your outside fabric. On the one upper corner that you did not backstitch, open your seam allowances and smooth them flat, then make a mark with chalk or water soluble marker 1.5” down from the top, right on the seam. You will be sewing a little U-like shape to hold down the seam allowances here – this is the place where the drawstring will eventually be threaded through the bag.
To sew down the seam allowances, align that middle seam with the left edge of your presser foot. Sew down to the mark you made, then pivot and go across to the other side of the seam allowance, pivot again (keeping the left edge of the presser foot in line with the middle seam), and sew back up to the top. No backstitching is necessary here.
Using a seam ripper, open up the middle seam all the way down to the bottom of the little U shape you just sewed.
Step 6: Put the Lining and Outside Together
Flip your outer fabric right side out and stuff it into the lining. This will seem counter intuitive. The thing to check for is that the right side of the outer fabric and the right side of the lining are flush with each other. Line up the side seams of the lining and outer fabric, and then line up the top edges.
Pin in a circle around the top edges, pinning the seam allowances of the lining and outer fabric together, going in the same direction. At the place where the drawstring opening is, just pin the loose edges down; it doesn’t matter which way the lining seam allowance goes.
Step 7: Sew the Lining and Outside Together
Convert your machine to a free arm, if possible. The bag should fit onto the machine like a glove, so you can line up the pinned edges with the 5/8” marking on your machine. Sew all the way around the top of the bag using a 5/8” seam allowance, backstitching when you get back to the place where you started this seam.
Step 8: Turn the Bag Inside Out
Now for the fun part! Find the opening you left at the bottom of the lining and turn the bag completely inside out. Once it’s turned out, you will need to sew up the little opening in the lining, either by hand or by machine. To do this neatly, tuck the edges of the seam allowance to the inside and sew as close to the edge of the opening as you can. After that, stuff the lining back down into the outer fabric. It should look somewhat like a bag now.
Step 9: Sew the Casing for the Drawstring
Last seam! With the lining tucked back into the bag, put the bag back onto the machine as you did for step 7, only this time, line up the top edge with the 6/8” seam allowance marking on your machine. Sew all the way around again, creating the casing for the drawstring. Backstitch when you return to the place you began, as you did in step 7.
Step 10: Feed the Drawstring Through
Put the safety pin on the end of the ribbon or cord and insert it in the opening you created at the top of the bag. Inch it through until you get back to the other side of the opening, then pull the ribbon through and ties the ends together. Presto – a bag!