Tutorial: Drawstring Laundry Bag

I'm shipping out to Pennsylvania for my freshmen year of college in about one month. I still need to buy linens, towels, and all of that good stuff so I can operate on my own in the dorms. One supply that I needed was a laundry bag. I decided to make one for myself. 

Then I thought about it, and figured I would make laundry bags as graduation gifts for my friends going to school out of state. One long trip to Jo-Anns, and six (SIX!) laundry bags later, I have finally written out a tutorial so you viewers at home can sew some laundry bags either for yourself, or those around you who are heading off to college in the fall.

This laundry bag uses French seams, making for a sturdy laundry bag that should last through a few years of wear and tear. It took me two hours to make this, including the time it took to take all the pictures. It's a pretty quick project, but oh so functional!

Here's what you'll need:
~2/3 yard plain fabric (I used this "oatmeal" cotton)
~1/3 yard patterned fabric
~1.5 yards of piping cord (it's around $7 for 15 yards at JoAnn's)
~7 inches of webbing (mine was about 1.25 inches thick)
~pins, sewing machine, scissors (or a rotary cutter, if you have one), thread

Step 1: Cut off the salvage edges of both fabrics using a rotary cutter or scissors. If you're using scissors, be sure to cut as straight as you can. Also trim fabrics so they are equal in width.

Step 2: To begin creating the first French seam, line up the edges (length-wise) of the fabrics, with the patterned fabric facing right side up. Pin the fabric.

Step 3: Sew layers together with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Step 4: Once you've sewn the layers together, fold the fabric so the patterned piece is face down. The "good" part of the seam should be on the outside like in the (blurry... sorry) picture above.

Step 5: Now make a crease along the seam, and pin like shown above. You can iron if you really want to. I try my hardest to avoid ironing fabrics... It's just a pain in the rear.

Step 6: With a 1/2 inch seam allowance, sew along the edge once more. This will create your French seam and protect the raw edges from fraying, making for a sturdier construction. 

Step 7: Next, French seam the bottom of the bag. You'll do this by using a 1/4 inch seam allowance on the "right" side of the bag; followed by a 1/2 inch seam allowance on the "inside-out" part of the bag. It's exactly what you did in steps 5 and 6--just at the bottom of the bag instead.

Step 8:  Next, we'll make the casing for the drawstring. To do this, use fabric chalk (or marker) to make marks 1.5 inches and 3 inches down the fabric. The space in between is going to be where the drawstring goes, and it will not be sewn when you stitch the side seams.

Step 9: Pin the fabric together along the side, and then sew the layers together with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Don't sew between the marks you made in step 8!!!

Then flip the bag inside out, and sew along the side with a 1/2 inch seam allowance to create the final French seam. Once again, don't sew between the marks you made in step 8!!! I cannot stress this enough.

Step 10: Flip the bag right side out again and sew a nice rectangle around the gap. This will reinforce it for the stress the drawstring places on it.

Step 11: Next, grab your piping cord and knot the ends together. Flip the bag inside out, then lay the cord just below the top of your bag.

Step 12: This is a step where you can use an iron, if you please. I didn't--mostly because I was lazy. So, what you're going to do is fold over the top edge about a 1/2 inch. Then, fold over 1.5 inches and pin. I pinned about every 4 inches here to make sure my folds held. Also be sure the drawstring is at the top of the bag, and between the pins and the crease in the fabric. 

Step 13: Before sewing the casing, pull the knotted ends of the loop through the gap on the side seam that you made in step 8.

Step 14: Sew along 1/4 inch away from the edge of the bottom crease, until you've sewn all the way around the bag. 

Step 15: Almost done! Next, grab your 7 inch piece of webbing and pin it at the top of your bag. You can put this wherever you think is best. I put it on the opposite side of the drawstring. 

Step 16: Sew two rows of stitches to secure the webbing. Be sure you don't sew over the drawstring. 

And you're done!

If you have questions or comments, leave me a note in the comments section! I will respond, I promise. 



  1. Did you make me one? :D

    1. I did. Or I will. Your fabric is all cut and ready. I'll have it done before you leave, I promise! Your fabric will be a surprise still though... since I ruined the surprise of the laundry bag. Don't buy one!

    2. I was actually hoping you wouldn't read this so it would still be a surprise.

    3. It'll still be wonderful!! And I will act super surprised! It's actually good I read this cause I was going to buy one :D
      Thank you!!

    4. Oh, okay! Silver lining there, I suppose. :)

  2. Great tutorial! im making a laundry bag & was un sure how to make the draw string part! thanks!

  3. Love this! I am a beginner sewer and the directions were so easy to follow. Now, I too, have great gifts for this years' graduates! Thank you!


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