Sew Your Own Reusable Drawstring Bags for Bulk Bins (or Gift Bags)

I made these drawstring bags for my mom to use for bulk bin items like nuts and grains. Since she gave me the idea to make these a while back, I knew it would be a sweet Valentines Day gift that she would appreciate! Since I'm using a cotton print, and not a specialty food-safe plastic or see-through netting deal, these also make cute gift bags.  Plus they're washable and all natural fibers (if you're making reusable bags then you probably care about these things)! 

Do people even buy corn in bulk?

I bought this country French quilting cotton with her in mind, but never knew what to use it for - and this was the perfect project. The smaller bag is roughly 7x5" and holds at least 2 Cups (in case you're wondering) - the larger one is around 8x6".  It is a good way to learn a French seam and practice buttonholes.  (Side note:  I prefer the buttonholes for the drawstring casing to the side, and that's how the instruction shows it, but you might notice in the pictures that the smaller bag has the drawstring in the front).

Moving on...

Cut 2 pieces (either 81/4 x 6 1/4" or 9 1/4 x 7 1/4").  You will also need 11/13" of satin ribbon or whatever you are using for the drawstring.  Lay the pieces side by side, make sure the pattern is going the right way (top/bottom).

On each piece, mark a 1/2" buttonhole 1 1/8" from the top edge and 1 1/8" from the side seam (see next photo).  Make buttonholes.

To make a French seam, put pieces WRONG SIDES TOGETHER.

Sew around sides and bottom with 1/4" seam.  See how I line up my fabric with the center marker of my presser foot as a guide?  

Trim the seam down to 1/4" if needed - this is important, can you tell?  :)

Now turn your bag and press seams open.  I like to take some thick fabric and wrap it around my finger and put my hand inside the bag with my (protected) finger under the seam, then just iron the seam right over my (protected) finger.  Please make sure your fingers are protected!!!  (In the next photo the bag is turned the wrong way but I like how it kind of shows my hand inside the bag and how you're able to iron the seam flat -- at this stage the bag should be wrong side out)...

With bag RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER, we're going to sew around the sides and bottom AGAIN, this time with a 3/8" seam.  This will trap the raw 1/4" seam allowance inside and will be smooth on both sides.  Aren't you glad you were careful with your 1/4" seam allowance earlier?

Line up your fabric to ensure a 3/8" seam!

This is how the bag looks from the inside and the out - no stringy edges to unravel.  

To make the drawstring casing, we are going to turn the raw edge down 1/2", then turn it down another 5/8".  Most people would have you turn the raw edge down 1/4" but that's cutting it too close for me, I like to give myself a little more room for error!  With light fabric like this it won't create much bulk.  

I used to loathe pressing the hem, especially twice, until I stopped pinning or measuring every couple inches creeping along with the iron... now I like to make a few marks with a ruler and pen, then just fold on the line and press.  

Sew as close to the edge as possible - don't leave an opening, this isn't an elastic waistband! :)  

Take your ribbon (11" or 13" depending on which bag you're making) and thread it through the buttonholes - I use the ol' safety pin trick...  and overlap the ends 1" and stitch together.  I slid it around so the overlapping ends are hidden in the casing.  

I like how the drawstring almost acts like a carrying loop.

No loose ends to get lost in the casing!  Of course you could leave the ends free to tie a bow (for a gift bag) or you could get one of those plastic adjusting pieces like they have on sportswear and gear that has a button that you could slide and cinch the bag closed (ya know what I'm talking about?).  

Now you just have to remember to take them to the store with you!


  1. Yes, I buy corn in bulk :) Great IDEA! Can't wait to try out. I tried using containers but they added a lot to the weight and I had to get the store to tare my containers each time. I bet these bags are much lighter. LOVE the chicken fabric. Where did you get it?

  2. Stacey, I got the fabric at JoAnn in Las Vegas of all places!

  3. It was nice coming such meaningful post. Keep sharing such good stuff. As it's always better using reusable containers that helps keeping the environment green and clean.


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