Dec 27, 2009

french seams drawstring bag tutorial

let´s make a pretty drawstring bag with french seams!
i know there are some tutorials out there already but i hope you´ll find my order of steps a bit easier than the others, too :-)
the trick is to sew the tunnels before sewing the bag body - way less fiddling with tiny seams for the tunnels..
(to see things more detailed just click on the pictures for a bigger view)

step 1: assemble your fabrics. you will need 3 pieces of the same size (i used 9 1/2"x7" in two designs which gives me a 8"x8" bag in the end) for the body of the bag and one long piece for the strap: 2" wide and about 3x as long as the wide side of your bag fabics (i took a 30" piece)

step 2: sew one long side of two fabric pieces LEFT sides together, as close to the edge as you can.

step 3: now flip the sides over to get them RIGHT sides together like you are used to. press to get a nice flat side.

step 4: here comes the french part.. sew a 1/4" (or even a bit more) seam over/next to the underlying first seam. the first seam should be tucked right away in this seam: you´ll have a "normal" seam on the right side and this slightly wide, but clean seam on the left side/the inside.

step 5: repeat for the other side. now you have a long rectangle as body of the bag with one piece of fabric being the bottom. mine measures about 19"x9,5".
to give the sides a nice look on the outside, iron both french seams on the left side to the bottom fabric and topstich them.
now your rectangle should look like this:

step 6: to make the two tunnels on top of the bag mark on the left side of the fabric on each corner DOWN 2 1/2" and TO THE MIDDLE 1/4". then cut a tiny little bit in the 1/4" mark, this will help you find the mark when folding the fabric over.

step 7: fold over the marked corners, fingerpress and sew as close to the edge as possible.
then fold over the top sides of the fabric for about 1/4" - i draw a line on the fabric 1/2" down from the top and then fold it over. iron the seam in place (picture).
turn the ironed seam over to the 2 1/2" marks to get a tunnel. sew close to the bottom edge of the seam.

step 8: now we are sewing the bag - fold the rectangle over, LEFT sides together, sew close to the edges, start on the 2 1/2" mark. do this on both sides, and don´t sew over the tunnels!!

step 9: turn the bag over, iron it and sew french seams again - about 1/4" from the sides, RIGHT sides together. again: don´t hit the tunnels, start/end right before them.

step 10: turn over the bag again - tada, here it is, in all it´s beauty!! 

step 11: now the drawstring. (it´s like making bias tape)
use the 2"x30" fabric strip, fold it on the long left sides together, iron it. now you have a marking right in the middle. fold each long side to this marking and iron it. then fold in a little part of the short sides, iron them, too. you should have a 1/2"x29" long strap. topstich all around.

step 12: with a safety pin pull the strap through your tunnels, tie knot at one side.

and you´re done!!

for this is my first tutorial (and i kicked out some pictures not to make it too long) please tell me if you understand all the steps - and if you have any questions please ask!!


  1. Lovely!!
    great tutorial too.
    (right side / wrong side)

  2. Alles verstanden - auch auf Englisch! ;-) Über Tutorials bin ich immer total dankbar!

  3. thanks eva and floh for the kind feedback!!

  4. Great tutorial and such a pretty little bag! I featured your tutorial on Craft Gossip Sewing:


  5. I am going to save this for future use - it' brilliant. I have done several gym bags for my kids, but this one is much better (I lined mine).

  6. Also gonna save this for future reference. Thank you so much for the clear instruction and wonderful pictures!

  7. Thanks for sharing this Claudia. Your bag came out great. So many uses for it too.

  8. Great for gifts! Thanks, I'll add it to my tutorial list of things to do!

  9. very good information you write it very clean. I'm very lucky to get this information from


  10. Thanks for writing this. I've made bags before, and spent way too much time fiddling with the casing. This is definitely easier!

  11. I tried this out today as my first sewing project! It turned out pretty well! Def need to work on straight lines, but the bag looks awesome! Thanks for the tutorial - please add more! :)

  12. Tolles Tutorial, french seams habe ich noch nicht gemacht, muss ich aber unbedingt mal testen, sieht sehr sauber aus! Danke fürs Teilen, LG sternie

  13. What an awesome tutorial! I've been trying to figure out a simpler way to make drawstring bags, and this is perfect!

    I like to make small ones, which I call "stealth snack bags." The idea is that sometimes we need to eat a snack in public but don't like the crackly sound of a wrapper, right? So at home you remove the food (a protein bar, nuts, etc.) from its packaging and put it in your little cloth bag. Then you can snack more inconspicuously.

    I use two drawstrings, threaded in a U shape, so the bag closes when they're pulled. I also put two small loops, sewn just inside the tunnels, on the sides for pulling the bag back open.

    Thanks for the excellent tutorial!

  14. Hi, Thanks a lot for sharing the tutorial! I love sewing drawstring bags, but I've never used french seams. I'm going to try it next time.
    Jake P.


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