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The cheat’s guide to making a drawstring bag

Easy homemade drawstring bag

By Cybele
I’ve discovered a way to reuse pillowcases and I confess, when I came up with the idea I felt like I’d come up with the theory of relativity.
It all came about because we were lucky enough to find a spot for Mr 3 year old at the local preschool and I’m really excited that we will be able to walk there. Although, it will take a bit of convincing that rain boots are not actually the best shoes to walk long distance in…
Where was I? Ah, the preschool list. At the tippy top was Large drawstring bag.  We were not the proud owners of such a thing and I was thinking it can’t be hard to make, if I had a sewing machine, but I don’t. Meanwhile, folding the washing, it struck me that I could use an old pillowcase.
I’ve had this large square pillowcase rattling around for ages, because I bought it on sale and didn’t check it was the right size for my pillows – doh! The only problem was it was white. White and my son do not go together well, so I threw it in my dyeing-with-tea-leaves-experiment pot and it came out a lovely softer off white. And since I had discovered decorating things like this is not as hard as I had thought when making these appliqued baby suits. I couldn’t help having a go and decided an elephant was a good friend for a boy to have at school.
I’ll be doing a post on dyeing with tea and coffee in March, so stay tuned!
homemade drawstring bag tutorial


All you really need is:
An old pillowcase
Shoe laces or about an arm’s length of cord
Needle, thread and scissors
If you want to get fancy:
Some old denim or other fabric off cut. I do need to warn you that I chose denim because I want it to fray a bit, so the elephant will have a bit of wild and wooly look after he’s been washed.
Stencil printable at the end of the post – my very first printable, people!!
Tailors’ chalk or ahem, a permanent marker, if your 3 year old has run off with the chalk and can’t ‘member where he put it!
A cute button
homemade drawstring bag tutorial 1. Roll the open edge of the pillowcase inside itself about an inch and a half. Slide the cord into the crease before pinning (apologies for the switch away from the red shoelaces. It’s just that I found the chunky calico cord I was looking for by this point). This will save threading it later. Sew along the pin line, with a good strong thread.

homemade drawstring bag tutorial

Essentially, you are now the proud owner of a drawstring bag, but if you’re like me and have fallen in love with elephants, please continue…
2. Trace around the elephant and cut out, including the ear, if you would like a cute floppy ear.
homemade drawstring bag tutorial3. Pin and sew, with leetle tiny stitches all the way around the outside edge.
homemade drawstring bag tutorial
4. Leave the ear flap loose, but it’s worth stitching the edge of the ear so it frays in a controlled way. Sew the ear ‘surround’ and ‘crease’ to the bag to keep the elephant nice and snug. Sew on the button.
Looking at it now, a tail could be cute too…
Stitch5. Pack and send off with small child to preschool, all the while, marvelling at how fast children grow. Once upon a time he weighed less than a kilo and I could hold my little prem baby in a single hand. Drawstring-Preschool
I am definitely going to do this for Santa sacks at Christmas time.



About BlahBlahMagazine

Cybele Masterman (Bele) trained as a beauty therapist, aromatherapist and journalist. After working as all of the above has found herself on a quest for a beautiful and meaningful life that doesn't cost the earth. Follow on google: +blahblahmagazine twitter: @blahblahzine or Instagram: BlahBlahMagazine

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  1. I used to LOVE draw string bags when I was young, but when I would try and make them somehow it never worked! Your post brought me back to my childhood. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!


  2. Inspired! I’m going to make Christmas sacks this year using your pillowcase method too. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. a great idea for upcycling! Thanks!

  4. Cool blog!! You’re an avid wearer of the clever clogs, I see. I can’t wait to have a good look around. x

    • Ladeez, thank you! I love the idea of wearing clever clogs. Definitely better than stupid stilettos, because I definitely look stupid if I try to walk in high heels these days… Think I better buy some clogs, my fuzzy, baby-addled brain could do with all the help it can get x

  5. Jennifer Tucker

    So glad I stumbled upon your site! It’s full of all sorts of wonderful! I can’t wait to dig deeper and find more treasures like this sweet drawstring bag tutorial.
    You mentioned adding a tail, and I wonder what you think of snipping a few centimeters from one end of your calico cord to create this? First, unravel the strands and thread a few of them through the bag/denim appliqué (at an appropriate height on the elephant’s bum). Then simply re-braid the strands and tie a knot, leaving 2-3mm frayed at the bottom of the tail.
    Thanks again for sharing your creativity!

    • What a wonderful, wonderful idea. I love it and perfect timing for me to update it for the new year. Thank you, I’m so glad you’re enjoying your look around. If you have any suggestions I’d love to hear them. Bele x

  6. Ima drawstring bag junkie. I really want to make the elephant! x

  7. I am loving this and can feel the tinggling excitement of a weekend project coming on!!

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