Thursday, 23 December 2010

A Drawstring Book Bag...Tutorial

I happen to know that a certain jolly, red-suited person of the gift giving kind, is going to leave quite a few books under the Christmas tree chez quilary in a few days' time - the joys of having avid readers in the house.

I discovered the need for a good book protecting bag when I caught a train to go to Miranda to do some Christmas shopping - my latest novel was getting quite battered jostling about between the sharp edged boxes and heavy parcels that had decided to follow me home.

In a spare hour or so last night (I relegated cleaning up after dinner as 'someone else's problem'), I whipped up these 3 little beauties - a Katy Jump Rope blue for Minky, Rainbow Geo dots for Miss Bee and  a lovely pastel Vintage dots for Princess. The thing I like about these is that the drawstring comes out on the outside, it sits flat and has a very neat edge.
You can use this technique for elastic waist pants and skirts, (but you will have to remember to make the opening on the inside of the casing not the outside).
You'd like to know how I made them? Glad you asked...

You will need:
a 13" by 17" piece of fabric (approx 33cm x 43 cm),
around 20" ( a 1/2 metre)  of co-ordinating cord,
sewing machine,
tape measure.

Getting out my overlocker and rethreading it from black to white was the longest step in this process.

I overlocked all around the piece of material. You could use your sewing machine zig-zag if you don't have an overlocker or can't be bothered getting it out, but since this will be carrying books you want to finish off your raw edges properly - and I really like finished edges anyway.

Fold in half, long end to long end, and mark with pins at 2 1/2 inches and 3 1/2 inches, down from the top edge. This is where you will leave a gap in your seam.
 Sew from the top down to your first pin and do a few reverse stitches.
The seam allowance I used is the width of my presser foot from needle to edge...(just to be accurate I measured it and it's a tad under 3/8" - in this case near enough is good enough).
Sometimes it really is OK not to have to be completely accurate, but if I was putting quilt blocks together, you know I wouldn't be so lackadaisical.
(no my sewing machine doesn't sew sideways, I just pivoted so I could take a clearer picture!)
Lift your needle and move to the place where the second pin is and start sewing (again do a few reverse stitches) down to the end of your long side, and along the bottom (short side) and finish at the fold.
You will now have a sewn rectangle, open at the top and with a "hole" in the side seam.
Here are two I prepared earlier (note to self: stop watching cooking shows!)

Now you will need to fold down the top edge 2", and sew along the bottom edge of your folded bit. In the first one I made (the rainbow dots) I didn't open the seam flat before I pinned and sewed the casing. You SHOULD lie the seam FLAT.
Again I just used my presser foot width (or 3/8" if you want a measurement).
With the top edge though, I top-stitched 1/4" away from the top - this will give a neat finish and you won't accidentally close the hole you made, which you need for your drawsting!
The last step is to turn you bag right side out and thread your cord through the casing.
It's done. Look at that neat and tidy edge!
 Easy and quick - two of my favourite pattern attributes.

Hope you enjoyed this little tutorial. You never know, it might just be that last minute Christmas present you've been looking to make!

thanks for taking a peek over the fence...


  1. Love that this bag lays flat. Thanks for the tutorial!


  2. Great idea Quilary! Might even have a go at that myself after Christmas. Mug arrived for the boy today as did another parcel. It's beginning to feel like Christmas now.

  3. I loved the tutorial and thanks so much!

  4. thank you for that! I want to make one for Amelie's library books.

    also wanted to wish you a great week & all the very best for the new year ♥


Nice of you to take a peek over the fence. It's lovely to meet you. Do come in, have a cuppa and a chat. I will talk back...


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