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.




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.

Read More

How To Make A Pillowcase With A Cuff // Easy Burrito Method


Making a pillowcase is a fun and simple beginner sewing project, and in this tutorial, I will show you how to add a contrasting cuff using the burrito method. It only requires a yard of fabric and about 15 minutes to make.

I’ll show you how to make them using a sewing machine, and a serger, and how to sew a French seam if you choose. You can also add a small strip of trim if you want and I’ll show you how easy it is to do that.

I have a FREE printable PDF guide showing the fabric measurements for a STANDARD, QUEEN, AND KING-size pillowcase. A standard pillowcase only requires one yard of fabric.



  • Fabric (flannel or quilters cotton)
  • Sewing machine (serger optional)
  • Sewing machine needle size (Universal 90/14)
  • Scissors (Rotary Cutter & Mat optional)
  • Pins/Wonder fabric clips
  • Seam gauge/ measuring tape
  • Iron/Ironing board
  • Label/Tag (optional)

Standard Pillowcase Instructions

When you buy cotton and flannel fabric from the store, the width that it comes on the bolt varies from 43-44 inches. The first measurement on the cutting guide shows 44 inches x whatever. That is the width (cut edge) of the fabric, not the selvage edge. So it may be 43-44 inches.

Don’t worry about that because I’m going to simplify the process by cutting off the excess in one of the steps that will save you some time. So just cut those pieces out as indicated in the photo.

TIP: Before cutting the pillowcase pieces, make sure you are starting out with a STRAIGHT EDGE. The video tutorial gives some good tips on how to do this and why it is important!

*****If you’re using a directional print fabric (images are facing one direction), you’ll need to cut it out differently. Check out the video tutorial on how to do that.



  • Main Fabric – cut 1 piece 44 x 28 inches / 111.5 x 71 cm
  • Cuff Fabric – cut 1 piece 44 x 9 inches / 111.5 x 23 cm
  • Narrow Trim (optional) – cut 1 piece 44 x 2 inches / 111.5 x 5 cm
pillowcase burrito


1- If you are applying the trim, fold the trim piece in half horizontally with Wrong Sides Together (WST) and press to form a crease. Set that aside.

PILLOWCASE FABRIC LAYERS2- Place the CUFF PIECE right side facing up.

3- Take the pillowcase MAIN PIECE and place it on top of the CUFF PIECE RIGHT right side facing up. Line up the edges. **Don’t worry if the side edges don’t line up. We’ll trim those off so they’re even in just a bit.

4- If you are applying trim, add that to the pile with the RAW EDGES lined up with the edges of the cuff and main piece. Pin or clip in place.


5- Take the top edge of the MAIN PIECE, and start making a little jellyroll towards the cuff.

6- Continue to roll until it is in the middle of the cuff.

PILLOWCASE JELLYROLL PINNING7- Fold the other edge of the cuff over the jellyroll and line up that edge with the others.

8- Pin or clip all those edges together using pins or clips.



1- Take the roll to the sewing machine or serger and sew along the pinned edge using a 1/2” seam allowance.

PILLOWCASE JELLYROLL2- THIS IS WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS! Grab a piece of the jellyroll from one of the ends and start pulling it out and continue until all the innards are pulled out.

3- Unroll the fabric and wallah, you have a beautiful ENCLOSED SEAM.

4- Flatten the fabric out and press the cuff so the seams are pulled out completely.


5- Fold the pillowcase in half with the WRONG SIDE FACING OUT (sewing machine & serger method or RIGHT SIDE FACING OUT (burrito method).

Line up cuff, trim, and fabric edges.

Measure 20.5 inches from the fold for the regular seam method and 21 inches from the fold. Cut off all the excess fabric.


There are three different methods to finish the seams on this pillowcase.

  • Sewing machine
  • Serger
  • French seams

Sewing Machine Method

1- Sew along the side and top of the pillowcase using a ½ inch seam allowance. Clip the corners.

2- Finish off the seam by sewing a simple zigzag stitch along the edges so it will not fray. There are other stitches you can use to finish the seams. WATCH THE TUTORIAL HERE.

ZIGZAG STITCH SETTING AT 4 wide, 3 length.

3- Turn the right side facing out and give it a good pressing.


Serger Method

1- Simply sew along the edge using a ½ inch seam allowance. ***For some helpful tips on how to start and end serged seams watch the video tutorial.

2- Turn right side facing out and press.



1- With the right side of the fabric facing out, you are going to make the first seam using a ¼ inch SEAM ALLOWANCE. I know this may seem wrong, but trust me.

PILLOWCASE TRIMMake sure the cuff edges and trim are lined up.


How To Add A Tag or Label To The Pillowcase

If you want to add a tag or label, this is the time to do it. If not, skip to the next step.

Locate where you want to add the tag and baste it in place with the sewing machine 1/4 inch from the edge. Place the tag so the folded edge of the tag is outside the pillowcase edge as shown in the picture. **Make sure you allow space for the seam. The tag needs to stick out after sewing both seams. So find where the ¼ seam would be then account for the next 3/8 inch seam and see how the tag will be exposed and adjust accordingly. (I hope that makes sense). The video tutorial will show how it is done.

2- After sewing the first pass with the ¼ inch seam. Cut any strings stray threads from the cut edge. Turn the pillowcase WRONG SIDE FACING OUT and press out the edges.

3- Now take it back to the sewing machine and sew another pass USING A 3/8 INCH SEAM ALLOWANCE.

PILLOWCASE PRESSING4- Turn the pillowcase RIGHT SIDE FACING OUT and give it a final pressing.

Tadah! Now wasn’t that simple. Look at the tidy, professional French seam.


These pillowcase burritos make such fun gifts! Grab a yard of fabric and have fun sewing!

Have fun making PILLOWCASES!





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.

Read More

How To Make a Fleece Neck Warmer | Free Pattern


When it comes to cold weather, you gotta have something to keep your neck warm. This fleece neck warmer is the BEST, and it’s very easy to make! A double layer of cozy fleece fits comfortably around your neck keeping the cold air out.

You can make it any size. I have measurements for a child, youth, adult, and x-large adult. It is a quick and easy sewing project. You can easily have a neck warmer sewn up in ten minutes. It can be made reversible with two different colors of fleece. I will show you how to make both options.

Neck Warmer Materials & Items Needed

  • Fleece (19-21 inches square)
  • Scissors/rotary cutter (optional)
  • Fabric clips/pins
  • Sewing machine/serger (optional)
  • Safety pin
  • Tag (optional)

Neck Warmer Instructions

1-Cutting Out

Measure your head and use the chart above to determine the cutting measurements. I like using a rotary cutter and mat to cut fleece. It helps get a straight cut and is a lot quicker. However, a pair of scissors will work just fine.


Cut out two pieces to the measurements given in the chart with the LONG SIDE ON THE STRETCH.


VERY IMPORTANT! Fleece fabric has some stretch to it and will be more stretchy from selvage edge to selvage edge. (The finished edge of the fabric is the selvage edge).


2-Determine which edge is the “stretchy side” and mark with a safety pin.

This is critical because if you sew it with the stretch on the wrong side, you won’t be able to get the warmer over your head.


3-Fold in half so the STRETCHY SIDE is along the long edge.

You can sew this neck warmer using a regular sewing machine or a serger. A serger is very nice if you have access to one, but not necessary.  

You can also hand stitch the whole thing. I have a tutorial showing you how to sew a STRETCH STITCH WITH A NEEDLE AND THREAD.

***If using a regular sewing machine set the stitch to a small zigzag stitch (1 1/2 width x 1 length) or the lightning bolt stitch. IF YOU JUST USE A REGULAR STRAIGHT STITCH, THE SEAM WILL POP WHEN THE FABRIC IS STRETCHED. (Watch the video for a demonstration of what happens if you don’t use a stretch stitch). A serger stitch allows stretching.

4-Sew seam

USING A 3/8 INCH SEAM ALLOWANCE, pin or clip in place and sew from the edge to edge. Backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam if using a single needle machine.

5-Turn right side facing out.

Fold the tube in on itself so RIGHT SIDES ARE FACING EACH OTHER.  Line up the seam and pin in place.

You will be leaving an opening  UNSEWN about 3-4 inches.

TIP: I like to use different colors of pins (red) or clips to mark the opening, so I don’t forget and sew all the way around.

If you want to add a tag to the back neck seam, insert the tag between the layers of fabric and baste in place before sewing the seam. (video tutorial shows how to do this).

Start at one of the RED CLIPS, backstitch, and sew around to the other red clip. Backstitch.


6-Reach your hand inside the opening you left and turn it right side facing out.

7-Sew the opening closed.

Fold the seam allowance inside and pin it in place. You can sew the opening closed with a sewing machine using a small 1/8 inch seam allowance, or hand sew using a ladder stitch.


Place pieces (RST) and sew along the long sides.


5- Follow instructions 3 & 4.


Now wasn’t that a simple little project. These make great gifts.

Be sure to check out my other fleece tutorials showing you how to make a fleece headband ear warmers and fingerless mittens.

Play Video

Have fun sewing!





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.

Read More

DIY Baby Bib Tutorial | Reversible

baby bib reversible

Sewing for babies is the best thing ever. This reversible baby bib is a fun and quick little project that is great for even a beginner seamstress. You can apply snaps or Velcro and it has an optional food pocket.

You can use two different contrasting fabrics, or use the same fabric for both sides. The baby bib can be made with several types of fabric: flannel, terry cloth, quilting cotton, sturdy knit fabrics, or laminate cloth.

These make the best baby gifts! Combine a few bibs with some burp cloths, a mitered corner baby blanket, and a bottle of yummy smelling baby lotion and you’ve got an adorable baby gift, a gift that is made from the heart.

Be sure to check out my other baby tutorials.

Baby Bib Materials and Items Needed

Baby Bib Fabric Choices & Requirements

Bibs can be made using several types of fabrics; flannel, terry cloth, quilting cotton, knit, and Pull laminate finished cloth (used for diapers). 

You can make the baby bib reversible and you can use two different prints or colors.


Baby Bib Pattern Assembly

Due to the large size of the pattern, you will need to assemble the pattern first.

Simply fold or cut the dotted line on pattern piece 2 and place it on top of and on the dotted line on piece 1 where indicated.

Tape in place and cut out the chosen size.

There is a size for infants, toddlers, children, or a small teething bib. 

*YOU CAN MAKE THE PATTERN SMALLER OR LARGER. I give you specific instructions in the video on how to easily do that. 

Cutting Out

Fold the fabric in half, lengthwise with selvage edges (the finished edge of fabric) parallel to the fold.

Place the pattern piece so the grain arrow is parallel to the selvage edge. 

baby bib cutting outCut out 2 bibs on the fold. You can double fold and cut all 4 pieces at once if you are using the same fabric for the front and back.

FOOD POCKET (optional)

Cut out a piece of fabric approximately 8 x 12 inches. Fold the fabric in half crosswise and then fold in half again lengthwise.

Place the food pocket pattern along folds where indicated. Cut out one.


Sewing Baby Bib

If applying a FOOD POCKET, fold the pocket fabric piece in half lengthwise.

* Adding a tag along the pocket top is a cute addition, but optional. Or you can add a tag in the seam somewhere.

Place the folded pocket on top of one of the bib pieces right side facing up. Align the edges and clip in place.


Baste in place using a ½ seam allowance and a long basting stitch. Do not backstitch.

Place the other bib piece right side facing down on top of the other bib piece. Line up edges and clip or pin in place.

You will be leaving about 4 inches unsewn on one of the sides of the bib. (This will allow you to turn the bib inside out).

Starting on one side, sew all the way around using a    3/8 inch seam allowance. Backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam.

Clip outer curves with V notches and inner curves with little slits.

Using a turning stick, poke out the curves and edges.


Close the opening you left open by folding the edges in to match seam allowance. Press and clip in place.

baby bib topstitching

Topstitch all the way around using a 1/8 – ¼ inch seam allowance.

Baby Bib Snap Application

You can use KAM snaps, which is what I prefer and use. Or you can use sew-in snaps or even Velcro.

Place the pattern on top of the bib, lining up curves. (Notice: you will be placing two snaps on one side of the bib and only one on the other. This will allow you to adjust the neck size).

Using the awl, that comes with the snap kit, poke the holes where indicated to mark the snap points.

Follow product instructions for the snap or Velcro application.


Here are some other baby projects you may be interested in:





Have fun sewing!

Play Video




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.

Read More