My little girl and I are going on a trip next week, to see my best friend in California! We will be traveling by plane, which is FREAKING ME THE F*CK OUT. I picture my little terror sweet bebe, screaming and whining and squirming throughout the entire flight each way as I am the meanest mommy EVER to not let her roam freely throughout the cabin, greeting the other passengers. So, I’ve armed myself with a sack full of never-before-seen toys and books to pull out one by one as the minutes creep by while we are confined in the air- one for each flight, actually! Of course, I needed some fresh new containers for this trip- I have a reputation for being “well-contained” to hold up. Enter the Simple Drawstring Sack. I have been making such sacks for various occasions over the last few years (lunch sacks, snack sacks, camera accessory sacks, dirty clothes while traveling sacks, lingerie/sock sacks, gift sacks…), after my friend in Japan sent me 2 small ones that she’d made.
This is the most easily modified to suit your needs project that one could think up. Each one that I do is different, depending on whether or not I have finished selvage edges (like I did this time), whether or not my fabric is one piece or two (here I had one)… and so on. I was able to make these 2 bags in about 45 minutes while watching a show and taking photos between most of the steps. Let’s get started!
Here’s what you’ll need:
fabric- just a bit more (by a few inches) than double the size you want your sack to be
drawstring material- double the width of your sack (I usually use bias tape because I like the colors that are available, and it’s sturdy)
2 safety pins
For all seams I used a half-inch seam allowance. Really, you can do whatever you want to though. French seams would be really nice!
First off, if you are working with two panels (instead of just folding one large panel in half to make the sack like I did), stitch them together right sides together down one side. Press open the seam. If the edges are unfinished on the other sides, you’ll want to finish the top edge where the drawstring will come out. I usually will do this to the top 2 inches, folding over 1/4″ from the side edge, and then another 1/4″, pressing and then top stitching.
If you are working with just one panel with finished edges like I was, here we go! Start out by making the channel at the top of the sack for the drawstring: fold over and press 1/2″ or so (just make sure it’s wider than whatever you’re using for the drawstring! I like to be generous here. Why not?) along the top unfinished edge of your fabric. Fold over another 1/2-3/4″ and press. Pin it down if it makes you feel better… And don’t mind my cat.
Zip on over to your sewing machine and top stitch that puppy down! As you can see here, I’m using a generous 5/8″ seam allowance. Of course, if you have a thin cord that you’re using to cinch your sack, this might be considered excessive. MAYBE. Be sure to back stitch at each end to reinforce the seam. It sure would be sad if you lost your contents!
Now that you have your channel all finished and pretty, let’s spread it out and take stock. As you can see here, I took the easy road. This is a half-yard of fabric, folded in half lengthwise. If you’d not had those finished edges and needed to turn in the upper edge, now would be the time to make a little snip in the fabric just below the channel so that it’ll smooth out nicely when you stitch up the side. Clip in just to the point where the seam allowance will be… Once you do that, the fabric will lay flat when it’s sprawled out on your rug (or table if you’re fancy). If you’re extra fancy, you’ll probably use pins. Again, I winged it. Is that why my seam ripper and I are so tight?
Now you’re ready to turn this into the sack it’s destined to be! Start right where that channel stitch hits (or right where you’ve clipped they should be really close), and go down the side and along the bottom edge. Again, be sure to back stitch at the beginning and end.
Clip the corners at the bottom of the sack to keep it from getting bulky, especially if you’re making a wee sack:
Now it’s time to install your drawstring. I cut mine to be just a bit longer than double the width of my sack- so that when it’s open all the way, the only part of the drawstring visible is the knot. Attach one end of the drawstring to the bag just below the channel using a safety pin. Attach a safety pin to the other end of the drawstring.
Thread the loose end with the safety pin through one of the channel ends of the bag. Since I used bias tape, and one edge of it has an open fold, I positioned my tape so that the opening would face the bottom of the channel, giving it a more finished look with the folded edge being at the top. Feel the safety pin on the inside of the channel and work it through, gathering up the fabric around the pin, and then pulling the fabric over the drawstring while keeping the safety pin moving forward in the channel, like this:
Eventually the safety pin and the drawstring will emerge out the other end of the channel, right next to where you began. Snazzy huh? I am really good at this thanks to all of the scrunchie making I did in middle school.
The hard work is done! And it wasn’t even that hard, was it? Tie a (simple overhand) knot using both ends of the drawstring lined up together. Turn the bag inside out and press. You’re done! All that’s left to do is fill it with toys and snacks and underwear and head out for your adventure! Wish us luck.