Project pages

drawstring bags

small bag You make these little bags from a circle of fabric, decorated with stitches or sequins. The size of the finished bag depends on the size of the circle you start off with. I've drawn mine much smaller than they should be, so that I could fit them on the page. To work out what size circle you need, experiment with some tissue paper circles, gathering up the edges till you have a 'bag' that is the size you want. When you get it right, use your paper circle as a pattern to pin to the fabric and cut round.

The easiest fabric to use for the bags is felt, which doesn't fray. If you want to use another type of fabric, such as cotton, you'll need to hem round the edge of the circle before you decorate it, to prevent it from fraying.

beginning cutting holesdecoratingstitching ringsthreading project index

cutting holes Cut out a circle of felt, and make a series of holes or slits between 1 and 3 centimetres from the edge, depending on how big your circle is. (The neck of the bag will be formed by threading a cord through these.) If you can get hold of a leather punch, use that to punch the holes. Otherwise cut them with small sharp-pointed scissors (Be careful!).

The felt won't fray, but it's a good idea to overstitch the edges of the holes or slits, to strengthen them. You can use a different colour, like this, or one that matches the background.

Another way of making the neck of the bag is to stitch a series of rings around the edge of the circle. Don't do that till you've put on your decoration, though, or the rings will get in the way.


beginning cutting holes decorating stitching rings threading project index

decorating fabric Think about how you will decorate the fabric. You could choose some sequins and sew them on randomly or in a pattern. Stars come in different sizes and colours, as well as gold and silver, and there are lots of other shapes and colours of sequin to choose from. Try scattering some on the background and see which ones you like the look of.

If you are going to use rings and not holes for your drawstring, don't forget to leave two or three centimetres empty round the edge of the circle, or you won't have room to stitch them on.

Sew the sequins on with a fine embroidery thread. Use straight stitches, or experiment with simple embroidery stitches. Try fixing the sequin with a small bead. Bring your needle up from behind the fabric through the hole in the sequin. Thread a bead onto the needle. Then take the needle back down through the sequin hole. stitching sequins

embroiderered patterns You can also use embroidery stitches to decorate your bag. Patterns that radiate from a central point fit the circle shape well.

This one uses a pink backstitch interlaced with toning threads. (The interlacing stitch is threaded behind each backstitch in turn, without going through the background fabric.) interlacing

beginning cutting holes decorating stitching rings threading project index

attaching rings At this stage, you can attach rings to the circle to carry the drawstring, if you want to. If you've made holes to thread it through, you can skip this bit. You will need a number of metal rings. The size and quantity depends on the size of your bag. Try sewing suppliers for small rings, jewellery suppliers for tiny ones. Stitch the rings round the edge of the circle. You can put them on the inside or the outside, whichever you prefer.

beginning cutting holes decorating stitching rings threading project index

Cut two pieces of cord or ribbon long enough to thread through all the holes or rings and knot together. Thread both pieces in and out of the holes, or through the rings. Knot the ends together. For ribbon, cut the ends diagonally or in a V-shape to stop them unravelling. The ends of cords can be frayed for a pretty effect. adding drawstring
gathering fabric Arrange the knots so they are at opposite sides of the circle. When you pull them in opposite directions they will gather the fabric together to form the neck of the bag
finished bag

beginning cutting holes decorating stitching rings threading project index

If you make a drawstring bag, we'd love to hear about it. Tell us how you chose your design. You could even send a picture for us to show on the Young Embroiderers web site. Send mail about your project and to find out how to send a picture.

by Fiona Dix ( © Fiona Dix 1997 - 2012

if you want to share this project with others, please link to it - don't copy it