Draw-string Shoulder Bag Tutorial

Last fall I had a really fun time making this bag as part of a challenge using Dritz sewing supplies. All along I’ve planned to share a tutorial to make this bag and here it is. (finally.)


Here are the fabric requirements for this drawstring bag version. It’s a great one for using small scraps or mini charms.

  • 32 squares 2 1/2” x 2 1/2” (this is a great pattern for using up mini charm collections.)
  • 1/2 yard of heavier-weight fabric for bag exterior
    • cut one strip 2 3/4” x 33”
    • cut one strip 15 1/4” x width of fabric and sub cut into two pieces 6” x 15  1/4” and two pieces 8” x 15 1/4”
  • 1/2 yard fabric lining
    • cut into two pieces 16″ x 15 1/4”
    • cut 1 1/2” x 10” piece (optional for swivel hook attachment)
  • 1/6 yard contrast fabric for shoulder strap and draw-string
    • cut one strip 2 3/4” x 33”
    • cut one strip 2 1/2” x 42”
  • Fat Quarter for pocket
    • cut pocket 14 1/2” x 11 1/2” (or two if desired)
  • Two 18″ x 16″ pieces of batting
  • 8 Dritz grommets + grommet tools
  • 1 Dritz swivel hook (optional)

*I used 1/4” seams throughout.

Sew the 2 1/2” x 2 1/2” charms into four rows of 8 squares.

Carefully cut each of the four strips in half lengthwise to become 1 1/4” wide strips. Trim 1 1/4” piece off the end of each strip to make them 1 1/4” x 15 1/4”. (I trimmed a different end off the two strips, just to be exciting.)

Sew four strips together, staggering the seams by alternating which side starts or ends with the 1 1/4” piece. Press seams all one direction. This will create two patchwork panels for the sides of the bag.

 Sew each patchwork panel between a 6″ x 15 1/4” exterior fabric and an 8” x 15 1/4” piece to create the outside of the bag. Press seams toward the patchwork. (I used a heavier-weight, linen looking woven fabric for my bag exterior.)

Center the exterior sides of the bag on top of a piece of batting and spray baste in place. Quilt the exterior pieces horizontally across the bag. My lines are about a 1/2” apart, but you could do whatever width you like. I used my walking foot for this.

The quilting is optional, but here’s a contrast showing off the great texture that the quilting creates. Also, I suggest using a thread color that contrasts with your bag exterior color.  I originally started by using the same color as the linen, but it didn’t show up or look nearly as interesting.

Place the exterior sides of the bag right-sides-together and sew sides and bottom together, leaving top open.

To make the bottom gusset (or square bottom) of your bag: after sewing exterior pieces together, cut a 2 1/2” x 2 1/2” square notch out of the bottom of both corners. Pinch open corner edges together, matching up the bottom and side seams and sew them together. Repeat with other side. Press seams open.

Creating an interior pocket. Cut a 14 1/2” x 11 1/2” rectangle. (Two if you’d like a pocket on each side.)

Fold in half, right sides together to create a 7 1/4” x 11 1/2” rectangle. Sew three sides together, leaving a small opening for turning right-sides out. Clip corners.

Turn pocket right sides out, tuck in the seam allowance at the opening, and press well. Top stitch along one of the long sides of your pocket piece.

Center pocket piece 5″ from the top of one of the 16” x 15 1/4” panel pieces with the topstitched long edge at the top. Pin and sew pocket in place starting at the top of one side (backstitch a few times to secure it), around the bottom, and up the other side. Backstitch a few times at the top to keep in secure.

Put two 16” x 15 1/4” pieces right sides together (make sure the height is 16″ and the width is 15 1/4”. Starting at the top of one side, sew down one side, across the bottom, and back up the other side. Cut a 2 1/2” x 2 1/2” notch out of the two bottom corners. Press seams open.

Match up bottom and side seams and sew the opening closed to create the bottom gussets. Turn top edge down 1/2” and press it down.

Turn exterior bag piece right-sides-out. Turn top edge down 1/2” and press in place. Carefully put bag lining inside the exterior piece, match up side seams and clip or pin top edges together.

This is the first time I’ve ever added a fancy attachment to a bag like the Dritz Swivel Hook. (I don’t think I would have done it, had it not been for the Dritz challenge. I had just never thought to do so!) They’re available almost anywhere you can by notions. It was SO easy – now I’ll do this for every bag so I’m not always digging around the bottom of my bag for my keys.

 Attaching the swivel hook: take 1 1/2” x 10” strip. Fold in half lenthwise and press. Open up and fold sides in to the press crease, press again. Now fold back together so that the strip is folded into equal fourths. Sew strap piece together with seams on both sides and down the center for added strength. Thread strap piece through the round end of the swivel hook and match strip ends together.

Pin swivel-hook strap ends about 3/4” inside the exterior and interior bag pieces. (I choose to put mine close to one of the side seams.) Now sew top edges of the bag together. I sewed about 1/4” away from the top and then topstiched again around the top edge.

Decorative drawstring: take 2 1/2” x 42” strip of fabric. Fold in half lengthwise and press. Fold sides in toward the center crease and press again. Fold together so the strip is in fourths. Sew two side seams to hold all layers together. Carefully fold up ends and sew them down to finish them.

Now time for the grommets. Can I just say here that grommets have always intimidated me? Thanks again to the Dritz challenge for finally getting me to take the plunge, because they were SO much easier than I imagined!

I used the 3/8” Dritz Grommets that come in a package of 8. To atatch them you’ll also need the simple Grommet Tools and a hammer. (Again, all of these notions are available widely where ever notions are found.) First mark on your bag where you’d like the grommets to end up. I marked mine starting 1 1/2” inches from the top of the bag and 2” from the side seams, then spread 3 1/2” apart so that the fourth grommet is again roughly 2” away from the seam. You’ll need to make a hole through both layers of fabric. I used a sharp dowel to start the hole and then carefully widened it using the grommet openings. Check out the Dritz website for a tutorial using the grommets and grommets tools.

I used a sharp dowel to start the hole and then carefully widened it using the grommet openings. Check out the Dritz website for a tutorial using the grommets and grommets tools.

Shoulder strap. Match the two right sides together of the 2 3/4” x 32” exterior strap and the 2 3/4” x 32” lining piece and sew then together with two side seams. (Optional – I quilted my exterior piece with a piece of batting, similar to the bag exterior and to give the strap some extra thickness. Do this before you sew the exterior piece to the lining piece.)

Turn strap right-sides out and press. Turn ends 1/4” inside both ends. Topstich about 1/4” away from  the side seams – to look nice and to keep the strap pieces from shifting.

Crease each strap end in half vertically to find the center. Center the strap by placing the crease on the side seam and about 2” down.

Sew strap securely in place.

Thread drawstring through the grommets and you’re ready to go! (Doesn’t that sunshine look nice this time of year?)

For this bag I used mini charms of Carolyn Friedlander prints at quilt market. While I was there I saw Lee Chappell’s amazing bag she made with a similar palette and was inspired to make something like it. (While we used similar colors, our styles and construction techniques are very different.  Lee’s bag is amazing. You can find the pattern here.)

If you decide to make one yourself, I’d love to see your version! Share it on the Flickr group or tag it with #DOQpouchbag on twitter or Instagram!

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  • Reply
    February 13, 2015 at 7:38 am

    What a Wonderful tutorial! So wonderful in fact that I've sent an email to myself so I can do at another time. Thank yo so much and can't wait to try to make something purposeful with those grommets.

  • Reply
    Lisa Walsh
    February 13, 2015 at 8:45 am

    Such a great bag! Thank you so much for the tutorial!

  • Reply
    February 13, 2015 at 9:18 am

    love THIS cant wait to try it!!<br /><br />Is there any way a &#39;print&#39; can be added…I always copy and paste to a blank word sheet

    • Reply
      amy smart
      February 20, 2015 at 12:33 pm

      As of right now, the best way to print is to copy the post and paste it in a word doc. In the middle of changing blog options so that printing will be easier!

  • Reply
    Laura Chaney
    February 13, 2015 at 11:48 am

    What a fun tutorial. I love the colors you chose for that scrappy section. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    February 13, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    Great bag and yout tutorial. Love the draw string too and the thing for your keys.<br />Groetjes<br />Annemieke

  • Reply
    February 13, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    I have loved this bag since you first made it! Thanks so much for the tutorial :)<br />Amanda

  • Reply
    Sew Stitching Cute
    February 13, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    Such a great finish and yet so simple! I am hoping to do this with a grey color and some nice bright pop of color for the mini squares!

  • Reply
    Christine S
    February 13, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    This is great, thanks!!

  • Reply
    February 14, 2015 at 8:01 am

    This is beautiful! Thank you for sharing your creativity!

  • Reply
    February 14, 2015 at 9:49 am

    ABsolutely love it.

  • Reply
    Katy Cameron
    February 14, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    Perfect use for those mini charms! (I seem to have an over abundance of them…)

  • Reply
    Liv Aagot's Quilt Blog
    February 15, 2015 at 4:45 am

    I really love your bag and the great tutorial with all the good pictures!

  • Reply
    February 15, 2015 at 11:05 am

    THANKS AMY for this neat tutorial!<br />VISITING FROM &quot;SEW+SOW BLOG&quot; WITH A FRIENDLY &quot;HELLO&quot;!<br /><br />msstitcher1214@gmail.com<br /><br />

  • Reply
    Katie Day
    February 15, 2015 at 11:28 am

    The metallic grommets really make this bag. It looks great! Thanks for the tutorial.

    • Reply
      amy smart
      February 20, 2015 at 12:37 pm

      Right?! I&#39;ve always been so scared of grommets. Now I want to figure out what else I can make with them. 🙂 Do not fear the grommets. :)<br />

  • Reply
    Tienda Ericositas
    February 18, 2015 at 8:30 am

    Dear Amy, your bag inspired me to finish one of mines http://ericositas.blogspot.com.ar/2015/02/morral-ericositas.html <br />Greetings! Érica

  • Reply
    February 19, 2015 at 10:39 am

    I love those silver metal clips you used with the faces on them. Are they like Wonder Clips? Where did you find them? I&#39;ve never seen anything like those before.

    • Reply
      amy smart
      February 20, 2015 at 12:32 pm

      They&#39;re called Getta Grip clips. Made by Dritz. Should be available where most sewing notions are found!<br />

  • Reply
    Julie Cefalu
    February 28, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    This is such a cute bag, Amy! I love the unstructured design – in other words loose and kind of floppy. It looks so comfortable. Thanks for the tutorial.

  • Reply
    Lisa Jones
    March 1, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    I visited the Lady Belle fabric site and enjoyed seeing their beautiful fabric. Thanks for sharing them with us. I liked the At the Zoo Quarter Bundle because I have a child that is Zoo crazy. Thanks! Lisa<br />

  • Reply
    March 15, 2015 at 11:42 am

    So so sew sweet!!….Love it!! Thanks for your work and sharing….I want to connect your link on my blog!!…..GOOD JOB!!…..we use to tell gals that during their labor experience…and we meant it then….i mean it now!!!……

  • Reply
    March 15, 2015 at 9:57 pm

    I love you bag and I love that you are sharing it for free! Way to go! I cannot wait to make one!

  • Reply
    Jen U.
    June 12, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    Been looking for the perfect bag to make to try out my skills — LOVE the modern look of your creation!! Can’t wait to try it. Thank you!

  • Reply
    October 6, 2018 at 6:22 pm

    Great instructions! Thanks so much for the tutorial! My bag is super cute!!! ? If I could, I’d attach a picture ?

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