Friday, 8 July 2016

How to Sew Drawstring Treat Bags {Guest Post}


Today's post is a collaboration with our partner blog, Creativity Unmasked, making drawstring treat bags with sturdy fabric and strong seaming to hold up under daily wear-and-tear as well as washing (for all those treat crumbs!). Mini bags, like these, are a great way to use fabric remnants. Although these little cuties are sized and styled for treats, drawstring bags are an easy DIY that can be scaled to suit a wide variety of uses.


Shapes and Sizes:
  • Double drawstring (hole/string on each side) bags: a single rectangle of fabric twice the intended height (plus double top sleeve and seam allowances) by the width (plus seam allowances) of your planned bag. If your fabric has a directional pattern (i.e. a right-side-up design), use two pieces instead of folding a single piece. You can also do this with regular fabric to use up smaller pieces.  
  • Single drawstring (hole/string on one side) bags: a rectangle of fabric twice the intended width (plus seam allowances) by the height (plus top sleeve and seam allowances) of your planned bag.
  • Different fabric for the drawstring sleeve: You can join or bind, but beware as bulk or fraying inside the sleeve can cause problems. Binding is attractive, but also tricky - especially with a small overlap. I prefer to join and, since we want this seam small and neat, I use a faux felled seam. As shown below: fold and iron the seam allowances, tuck the edges into each other, and sew together. You can then make your bag as you would with a single fabric, just change thread if/as needed for looks. You can use this joining technique to combine fabrics two-tone any part of your bag, not just the sleeve. It does mean a double line of visible stitches on the finished sleeve, but this looks quite nice if you sew carefully.


Small drawstring bags might require a few compromises since there is little room to maneuver after you join the sides. I like to angle the drawstring holes so that I don't end up with extra bulk where they meet. Folding inwards (single or double fold) is simple and neat. For an unlined treat bag, I like using a french seam.  This requires requires a little extra fabric in the seam allowances and a touch more sewing, but looks so neat and tidy.


The materials and craft supplies used in making the treat bags shown are:
To make your own drawstring bag, you will need suitable fabric(s), cord or ribbon for the drawstring, coordinating thread, scissors (a rotary cutter is also handy but not required), fabric glue (optional), an iron and ironing board, and basic sewing equipment. I used an iron on applique to fancy up on of my treat bags, but the bags are cute and functional plain (and I like plain for shoving into my pockets, too!). The steps/photos shown are for a single drawstring bag.  If working with two fabrics, join as noted above - the images below illustrate the same steps follow-on being used for a two-tone bag. To make a double drawstring bag, follow the same general steps, but create two top sleeves, then join the free sides.
  • Cut fabric(s) to size (see above).  Don't forget to include extra for your french seams.
  • Iron flat and use folds/creases to mark out all of your seams and folds.  If you are working with plain or double-sided fabric, you might also find it handy to make a small mark to denote your designated inside/outside, just in case! What seems like the inside will become your outside when we french seam, so take care.
    • Fold in half along the center line and iron to crease.
    • Fold a seam allowance around all outside edges and iron to crease. 
    • Fold to form your drawstring sleeve (seam allowance still folded inside from the raw top edge) and iron to mark a crease along the top fold.
    • Fold again and iron to mark the bottom edge of the sleeve.
    • Using the bottom line as a marker, fold the corners of the sleeve inwards slightly to make a small notch. This can be a single fold or double (raw edges under). Iron to crease.
  • Double check all of your allowances and alignments. Adjust if needed.  Optional: apply a small amount of flexible washable (or wash-out) fabric glue under the top seam and/or angled corners to help hold while you sew. Don't glue any bag edges.
  • Stitch a small hem on each of your angled notches to secure the edges.
  • Fold and sew your drawstring sleeve, taking care to ensure that the top seam is folded inside and sewn into place under your hemline.
  • Refold along your center line crease. Iron again to make sure that everything is nicely flat and even. Flatten your side seam allowances outwards, but don't steam out the creases - they are a handy little line to follow while you sew.
  • Sew along the seam allowances for your top and bottom edge. Yes, this is right side out: the first step of making french seams.  Close the sides up to the intersection with your notches but not (of course) closing up the openings on that lovely new sleeve. Reinforce the seam below the notch for a extra strength.
  • Trim the raw edges and corners for less bulk in the finished bag.
  • Inverse the bag to wrong-side-out, taking care to tuck out your corners, and iron flat. 
  • Sew another hem along the bottom and side, just inside of your first seam allowance. This captures the first hem and your raw edges inside.  Reinforce the seam below the notch for a extra strength.
  • Inverse the bag to right-side-out and admire your handiwork. Thread through your drawstring and enjoy!



You can skip the french seams and simply sew together using a basic hem right-side-in if you prefer.  Overlocking the edges before sewing the bag can help to reduce fraying. Alternatively, iron inwards, stitch together, then zig-zagging over the raw edges.  An example bag is shown below so you can see one sewn this way without french seams or angled drawstring sleeve holes - it's a little more basic, but still very cute and functional:

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