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This project is written by Angela Fitzgibbon a keen stitcher who you can find blogging at

Reverisble drawstring bag project

Reverisble drawstring bag tutorial


This reversible drawstring bag is created using 2 pattern pieces and can easily be adapted and customised. It can be sewn with many types of fabric, from silk to lace to velvet to upholstery fabric.

Depending on the fabric used, it can be sewn for any occasion from sports to parties, Halloween to weddings and can carry anything from shoes to lunches, makeup to crayons.


Before Starting:

  • Read through all the pattern and bag instructions before starting.
  • Though there are quite a few steps described below, the bag can be sewn in approx 30 mins.
  • Unless indicated otherwise, seam allowances are 1cm and are kept small to ensure sewing the curved piece is easier
  • The measurements given are for a large bag (height 28cm, width approx 25cm), and a small bag (height 16cm, width approx 18cm) but this can easily be changed to suit your requirements.


What you need:

Half metre of Main fabric

Half meter of Lining fabric

Ribbon 1.5m of good quality ribbon (ribbons used here include Jane Means striped ribbon, narrow stitched ribbon and organza ribbon)

Other embellishment if required.

Recommended fabric: Most fabrics will work for this bag. Heavier fabrics will give the bag more structure, and softer fabrics would be more suitable for special occasions.


Reverisble drawstring bag pattern


Step 1 Create Pattern Pieces

Step 1(a) Create pattern pieces for your custom-sized drawstring bag [if you want specific measurements, refer to Step 1(c) for examples of a small or large bag]. Cut these pattern pieces out of paper or they can be marked directly onto fabric with chalk, and then cut out.

For the base of the bag, draw a circle on paper or fabric (You can use a small plate such as a side plate to draw a circle for a large bag, or a saucer for a smaller bag). A 1cm seam allowance is already included. Cut out the circle.


How to make a drawstring gift bag

Step 1(b)

For the side of the bag, measure all around the edge of the circle or plate using one of the following methods:  with a flexible ruler, a measuring tape on its side or use a piece of string and then measure the string. Or measure across the middle of the circle and multiply this number by 3.14.

Record this measurement. Divide this figure in two. This is the width measurement of the side of the bag, including a seam allowance.

 Decide on a height based on what you want to use the bag for, add 2cm for top and bottom seams and up to 4cm to allow the bag to close properly when the drawstring ribbon is pulled.


Cutting pieces to make a drawstring bag


Step 1(c) If you want to sew a large or small bag, the measurements are as follows:

Large bag: Draw a circle (side plate size) with circumference 61.5cm. Divide this in half for the bag width 30.7cm. The height of the wine-coloured large sample bag is 30cm.

Small bag: Draw a circle (saucer size) with circumference 44cm. Divide this in half for the bag width 22cm. Use a bag height of 18cm.


Sewing a drawstring bag


Step 2

Cut out fabric using pattern pieces created in step 1

Cut out 2 circles, one in fabric and one in lining.

Cut out 4 rectangles, 2 from fabric and 2 from lining.

Cut 2 pieces of ribbon, 75cm each.


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Step 3

Using a I.2 cm/.5inch seam allowance, sew sides of fabric rectangles (sides of bag) leaving 2cm opening, 3cm down from the top edge. This opening can be moved a few cm lower if you prefer a less gathered top on the bag. Repeat for lining fabric.

Sewing the side seams of the bag


Step 4

Stitch small rectangles around the four openings, to prevent the raw edges coming through with wear. It is not necessary to finish all seams, unless your fabric frays badly, as the seams will be completely hidden when the bag is finished.


Sewing tutorials for learners


Step 5

Before sewing the base to the sides, prepare the fabric and lining as follows: Fold circle pieces in quarters, open up and place pins at quarter fold marks. Fold sewn bag sides in half. Open out and place pins at seams and fold marks for both the fabric bag and the lining bag.


Lined drawstring bag project


Step 6

Pin the base of both the fabric bag and the lining bag to the sides, matching fold marks and seams.

Sewing the base of the bag


Step 7

Sew the base of the bag to the sides using a seam allowance of 1cm and with the base piece on top. This will help ease in the sides which may be slightly larger than the base depending on the size of bag that you are sewing.

Repeat for the lining.

How to sew a bag

Step 8

Turn the fabric bag right side out, leave the lining bag wrong side out. Add embellishments to the bag at this stage if you wish. Push the lining bag into the fabric bag, keeping wrong sides together and matching side seams.


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Step 9

Line up the openings in the side seams and pin the fabric bag and lining bag together at the side openings.


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Step 10

Fold a I.5cm seam to the wrong side at the top of both the fabric bag and lining bag. Pin the bags together along the top.

Edgestitch the fabric and lining together at the top of the bag.


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Step 11

Sew two more parallel lines of stitching, one above and one below the side openings, these will form a casing or channel for the drawstring ribbon closure.


Ribbon from Jane Means



Step 12

Prepare the ribbon

Choose 1.5m of a narrow ribbon. If you only have a wide ribbon, fold it in half and sew along it's length. Cut the ribbon in 2.


Threading a drawstring bag



Step 13(a)

Attach a safety pin to one end. Insert the safety pin and attached ribbon into one of the side openings of the bag. Push it all around the channel, past the opposite side opening, and back out the same opening where it was pushed in. Knot the ribbon ends.


Sewing a drawstring bag with ribbon ties


Step 13(b)

Attach a safety pin to the second piece of ribbon. Push it through the opposite side opening and all around, past the first opening, and back out the opening where the second ribbon piece was pushed in. Knot the ribbon ends.

Finished drawstring bag

Step 14

Pull both ribbon loops to close the bag.  Now you have your finished bag!  See below for ways you can customise your bag.

How to customise a bag

Customising options:

A. For a slightly different look the bag sides can be made larger (double the width) and gathered into the base of the bag. This would work better for fabric with more drape, like velvet or a soft cotton.

B. Instead of folding and sewing the top seams in Step 10, a contrast or matching binding can be added, like the satin binding on this organza and satin white bag.

C. Lining can be sewn in different fabric, like the Liberty of London lining in this green velvet bag, to match or provide contrast to the main fabric.

D. The outside of the bag can be customised with labels, names or ribbon, like this Jane Means cat ribbon.

Customised bag instructions

Don't forget to visit Angela's blog for more great projects and sewing tutorials.