022: tutorial; lined drawstring project bag

I’ve ignored this blog for seven months now but I just sat down to write a tricky part of my current book project so obviously I now suddenly have to write a tutorial for these three bags I made! There are a ton of tutorials out there, but I find that this is the easiest way to do it, plus I wrote down how to box corners, which is a thing I always struggle with. So here we go.

(And yes, this is a messy tutorial because I mostly took the pics for my own reference and then decided to post them after the fact.)

I made three, because I happened to have three knitting projects in progress. And YES, they’re the same size, it’s just that the black one has a much smaller project in it, so it looks smaller, bu the finished size is about 23.5 x 18 cm (9.25 x 7 inches), and fits a little more than a sock project, though I am knitting a gigantic scarf and I’m curious to see how much of it fits before I have to either make a bigger one or resort to a normal tote bag.

But yes, this is how I did it:

For each bag, cut two pieces of fabric, one for the outside, and one for the lining. Each should be 52 x 20 cm (20.5 x 7.8 inches, but if you’re doing the inches thing I’d just round it into nice even numbers, the size really doesn’t matter exactly). Or, if you’re using scraps, just do four pieces at 26 x 20 cm and seam the bottom, you do you.


Fold them, turning right sides together.

For the outside piece, on both sides, put a mark 3 cm down from top, and then one 2 cm below. (Or, you know, about 1 inch down, with marks 1/2 inch apart.) Seam down sides, but leave a gap here. This is where the opening for the string goes! (Also, ignore my pen marks. I messed up.)

For the lining piece, on one side, mark a gap about 5 cm (2 inches) wide on one side. Not too far down, because you still have to box those corners. This is how you turn the bag right side out when you’re done!

Or, if you do two pieces, just do it on the bottom. And yes, seam the rest of it, aaaall the way down.


Time to box the evil corners! I always found this the actual worst until I found this method, and I have to relearn it every time so now I took pictures. So, first draw a square, either from the seam like here, or from the edge of the fabric. I like doing it like this. Do this on both sides of the fabric, in both corners. And yes, on both the outside fabric, and the lining fabric.


Then you pull it apart at the seam, and magically the two squares will mesh like this, into a straight line. Pin carefully, making sure that it’s all straight and that the pins go through on the line on both sides. This is the front and back of the same corner, for reference.


Seam along the lines and you’ll get this. Cut off excess fabric. Zigzag/serge the edges if you’re a nervous sort (I am) but the seams won’t be exposed so it should be fine anyway. (Also enjoy the ruler my dad gave me, an advertisment for the communter trains in Stockholm, made some time in the 1980s or 1990s.)

Then just straighten it out and discover that it can stand! On it’s own! I forgot to take a picture of the pieces doing this before the bag was finished, but this picture shows it pretty well.


I admit that this picture only exists because I’m unable to remember how to put the pieces together to make the outside the outside and the inside the inside once you turn it right side out. But: right sides together, but the lining must be on the outside as you seam it! (Possibly there’s an easier way to do this. I’m a messy, trial-by-error, self-taught seamstress.)


I forgot to take pictures of the rest, but these that I took after-the-fact shows the rest pretty well. So, flip the bag right side out, press the seam and top stitch. Sew a channel about 3 cm down. Use the width of the gap on the edge for reference on width. Getting it straight sucks, but I think I managed okay. (Also, seam the gap in the lining, obviously.)


Finally, pull string through. Basically, tie it to a safety pin and run it through from one side, all the way around, and out the same hole, put a bead on if you want (not necessary but if you slide them up like on the bag on the right they’ll keep the bag closed) and tie a knot. Take a second piece of string and put it through the hole on the other side. I’m using elastics here because it’s what I had, but I don’t recommend it! If I can ever get to a store that sells ribbon by the metre I’m going to replace it but they keep closing the fabric stores in town and the only one that’s left isn’t on a bus route so it might be a while and I got impatient.

How long string you want varies! I like mine long enough that I can loop the bag around my wrist when I knit at the bus stop, but not so long that they tangle into everything if I toss one in my backpack. I think this time I made them about 45 cm (28 inches) long after trimming, but that’s maybe a little on the short side.

And I guess now that this is done and I’m out of procrastination I have to go do my actual writing anyway…

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