How To Make a Fabric Bag // Beginner Sewing Tutorial

fabric bag material items

Oh boy do I have a fun beginner sewing project for you. I’m going to show you how to make a fabric bag. They are so fun and quick to sew and you can use them for so many things.

If you’re new to sewing, this is a great beginner sewing project. These fabric bags can be made in any size. They make really cute gift bags, or you can use them to store almost anything. I’m going to make up a bunch of medium-sized bags out of muslin to store my onions and garlic to put in my pantry.

The little bags work well for candy treats or small items that you want to keep together.

Materials & Items Needed

  • sewing machine
  • some fabrics (quilters cotton, flannel, canvas, muslin, and even sheer and knit fabrics can be used)
  • scissors/rotary cutter mat (optional)
  • pins/wonder clips (optional)
  • measuring tape/Hot hemmer/seam gauge
  • iron
  • pencil or disappearing ink pen
  • turning stick, or the eraser end of a pencil
  • seam ripper
  • drawstring (upcycled t-shirt yarn, ribbon, bakers twine, jute, seam tape, recycled drawstrings from upcycled clothing)
  • optional embellishments (applique, whatever else you want to put on the bag)
  • optional tag/label
  • Wonder Under (optional)


Fabric Bag Instructions

Cutting Out

You can make these any size but some recommended basic sizes are:

Finished Size:

  • 4.5 x 5.25” / 11.5 x 13 cm
  • 8 x 9” / 21 x 23 cm
  • 13 x 12 25 inches (33 x 31cm) finished
sewing tips rotary cutters

I like cutting my fabric, especially squares and straight cuts with a rotary cutter, ruler, and mat, but you can always use regular scissors if you want to.

1- Decide how big you want the bag to be.

Seam allowance is ¼ – 3/8 inch and you’ll be folding the top of the bag down 1 ¼ inch to make a casing. You can make this casing larger or smaller if you wish.

For a medium size bag that has a finished measurement of 8 x 9, you’ll cut a piece of fabric 9 x 11 inches / 23 x 28cm.

2- Pre-pressing

Taking the time to pre-press your casing will save time and frustration. I LOVE using this Hot Hemmer. It makes hemming and pressing so much easier. I would definitely recommend investing in this little gadget and adding it to your sewing tool collection.


Fold the top edge under a ¼ inch and press all the way across. Do that on both pieces. Then fold over again 1 inch and press.

fabric bag seam

Unfold the hem you just pressed and place the right sides lining up the edges and the creases you just made.

Sew along the side, across the bottom, and back up the other side using a 3/8 inch seam allowance, or just the edge of your presser foot to make it easy. Backstitch at the beginning and the end of your stitching.

3- Fabric Bag Drawstring Casing

Measure down 2.5 inches from the top edge and mark that point on both sides.

4- Finishing the seam allowance.

You are going to want to finish the seams so the fabric does not fray. There are several methods you can use or you can cut the fabric with pinking shears. However, a simple zigzag stitch works great.

Zigzag stitch settings: Width 4 / Length 2

Start at that 2 ½ inch point you just marked and start sewing all the way around, with the right edge of the zigzag close to the fabric edge.

Open up the bag so that you can finger-press the seam allowance open where you didn’t finish the seam. You can use an iron if you want but I find a good finger press is sufficient. Press down firmly and slide your finger down and that will press it open.

fabric bag seam allowance
fabric bag

To reinforce the drawstring opening, sew around the unfinished seam making a little box area. Sew about 1/8 inch from the center seam.

fabric bag folded casing

Now, this is where that pre-pressing comes in handy! Fold the top of the fabric bag down where you pressed, ¼ inch and then 1 inch. Pin it in place.

Topstitch all the way around about 1/8 inch from the edge of that fold. If you have a sewing machine where you can remove the arm piece so you can slide your bag around the arm of the sewing machine.

However, if you don’t have that option, turn the fabric bag RIGHT SIDE FACING OUT and sew inside the tube. (I hope that makes sense).

Janni Tip: Here is a great tip so that you don’t get those little bunched-up threads on the underside of your fabric where you start sewing:  When you start sewing, grab the needle and bobbin threads and hold them for the first couple of stitches then let go. There isn’t anything functionally wrong with the bunched-up threads, it’s just not very attractive.

Flip it right side facing out and take your turning stick and poke out the corners. 

To reinforce the top of the drawstring holes, take a few stitches about 1/8 inch from the top and only about an inch long.

This is where you’ll need the seam ripper. Pull the seam apart where you reinforced the hole so that you can see the stitches and just grab one of the stitches and cut it. Make sure you’re not cutting the fabric.

Start pulling the threads and cut as needed with the seam ripper to open that section up. Don’t worry, the seam will not come undone further than that because you have reinforced the seam.

5 – Drawstring Application

Measure out your drawstring material: take the width of the bag and double that, then add 4 inches. For this 9 x 11 inch bag, I’m going to cut two strips 25 inches.

Attach the safety pin to the end of the twine. If the twine or string you are using has ends that will fray, make a knot on the end before attaching the safety pin.

fabric bag cinched

That’s it! Pull the drawstrings and see how nicely it cinches together. Yay!

Fabric Bag Embellishments

You can embellish the bag with a tag, or an applique.

I have added a cute star and some flowers using “Wonder Under” fabric adhesive. This is great stuff. Stay tuned for a tutorial on how to use it.

Fabric Gift Bag Idea

I made some PJ pants and bought a t-shirt to match, then added a cute flower applique that I made from the fabric I used for the pants. Put them in a bag with matching applique and there you have an adorable, homemade gift bag. So cute.




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Jan Howell

Jan Howell

Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

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