Mixed Bag


I made this drawstring bag for a friend, and it turned out really cute. So I made more of them--and took notes this time--to share with you!

 Retro Mama | Mixed Bag Drawstring Pouch Tutorial
Drawstring bags are perfect for stash-busting fabric, trims, and other embellishments that seem to multiply when you're not looking (or in my case, when you load up your online shopping cart because why pay for shipping multiple tim--and oh gosh are those buttons adorable?!). But let's not talk about my shopping problem, let's make some cute little pouches!

The bag measures 3"W x 4"H (7.6cm x 10.2cm), and is unlined, but with an easy adjustment so there are no raw edges to poke out through the sides, yay! Lightweight cotton such as Japanese quilting cotton makes for a more delicate and less bulky bag, but you can also use regular quilting cotton if you wish. The instructions show how to make a pouch embellished like the one pictured above, but you can decorate them any way you want!

 Retro Mama hexie drawstring bag
One more teeny tiny note: This bag is small and therefore a wee bit fiddly. While it's not technically difficult to sew, it does get slightly cramped to fit under your presser foot at the end. Using a zipper foot really makes the difference! Make sure you have good lighting and your stitch guides are clearly marked. Using light colored fabric is also really helpful for visibility.

Drawstring Pouch Tutorial

11-1/2" x 4" (29.2cm x 10.2cm) piece of lightweight cotton print, such as Japanese quilting cotton or lawn
Trim (crocheted lace, twill tape, linen tape, or similar) for front of bag
Additional small length of twill tape or ribbon for "tag"
Two 18" (45.7cm) lengths of 1/8" wide satin ribbon for ties
All purpose thread
Embroidery floss to sew buttons
Fray Check

Quilting ruler, rotary cutter, self-healing mat, sewing machine, iron and ironing board, air dry or washable ink fabric pen, zipper foot, small safety pin, hand sewing needle (for basting), chopstick or other narrow blunt tool

 Retro Mama drawstring pouch tutorial
1. Press under the long sides of the 11.5" x 4" (29.2cm x 10.2cm) rectangle a scant 1/4" (6mm).

2. Edge stitch along both sides.

3. Press under the short sides of the fabric, this time a full 1/4" (6mm), and topstitch.


1. Fold the fabric rectangle in half, wrong sides facing and short ends together and crease at the fold.

2. Unfold the fabric, and using a ruler, draw a line on the bag with disappearing fabric ink, 3/4" (1.9cm) above the fold.

 Retro Mama drawstring bag tutorial
3. Cut a 4-1/2" (11.4cm) length of trim (crochet or eyelet trim, twill tape, etc.), and place on the bag, bottom edge of the trim on the line. Sew the long edge of the trim to the fabric, very close to the edge, keeping the edge of the trim on the ink line. Repeat for the other side. Be sure to backstitch so it stays on securely.

 Retro Mama drawstring bag tutorial
4. Cut a 2" (5.1cm) length of trim or ribbon for your "tag" (or insert your own foldover label). Fold in half, place it on one long edge of the bag fabric, a little above the sewn trim. The raw edges should hang over the bag edge about 1/4" (6mm). Sew in place, close to the edge.

5. Trim the tag and ribbon, then zig zag stitch over the ends. Do not add buttons yet.

 Retro Mama drawstring bag tutorial

1. Fold the bag fabric in half, right sides together, matching the short edges.

2. Mark a short line 3-1/4" (8.3cm) from the bottom fold, and 3/8" (9.5mm) above the first mark with a fabric pen, on both edges as pictured, then pin the long sides.

 Retro Mama drawstring bag tutorial
3. Sew the long sides of the bag with a 1/4" (6mm) seam allowance, but DO NOT sew between the two sets of lines. This creates the opening for the ties. Backstitch a couple of times at the beginning and end of each seam to fully secure the thread, especially right next to the lines.

 Retro Mama drawstring pouch tutorial
4. Turn the bag right side out, then draw lines with a ruler and fabric pen for stitching the channel for the ties, right above and below the openings on the side of the bag. I used the original ink marks, which showed through the fabric, and continued them around the entire bag.

 Retro Mama drawstring bag tutorial
5. Turn the bag inside out and press the seam allowances open. Then fold over the top edge of the bag 1-1/4" (3.2cm) all the way around toward the wrong side. Press the fold with an iron, keeping all seam allowances open and lined up. Use a needle and thread to hand sew a long basting stitch (reinforced a few times and tied off) to keep the seams in place. Otherwise they may twist while you are sewing the channel for the ties.

 Retro Mama drawstring pouch tutorial
6. Sew all the way around the bag on both lines, using a zipper foot with the needle all the way to the left and starting on a side seam. Backstitch a few times to secure the seams. Be extremely careful that the fabric is not bunched underneath and that your fingers stay clear of the needle!

 Retro Mama drawstring bag tutorial

7. Carefully remove the basting stitches on the side seams.


1. Turn the bag right side out again (last time, I promise!). Gently run a chopstick along the seams and corners, and touch up with an iron if necessary.

2. Attach a safety pin to one end of a ribbon tie. Insert it into one of the side openings, then thread it all the way around and back out through the same hole. If the safety pin gets stuck under a flap near the side seams, insert a narrow chopstick tip in until it touches the safety pin, and use that to guide it through the hole. Tie the ribbons together about 1-1/2" (3.8cm) from the ends, then neatly trim the ends on an angle with a rotary cutter. Repeat this process with the remaining ribbon, except start on the opposite side of the bag. Use Fray Check on the ends of the ties in a well-ventilated area, or better yet, outside!

 Retro Mama drawstring bag tutorial
3. Sew on the buttons. I mark the holes first to make sure the buttons line up straight.

 Retro Mama drawstring bag tutorial
4. Fill your new little pouch with goodies and enjoy!

I loved embellishing these little bags using my favorite measuring tape trims, prized scraps, and vintage buttons--I hope you enjoy making them, too! (for embellishment info on the other bag styles, see this post!)
 Retro Mama Drawstring Pouch Tutorial

 Retro Mama | Mixed Bag Drawstring Pouch Tutorial

Leave any questions you have in the comments below and I'll do my best to answer them! I would love to see your own "mixed bag" pouches, please tag me on Instagram (@retro_mama) or post on my Facebook page if you make them!

Happy Stitching!


  1. great tutorial many thanks will be making some of thrse

  2. These are so sweet. Thank you for the tutorial. ☺

  3. Cute! Great idea for gifts for my quilty friends!

  4. So cute and lovely gift idea, thank you.

  5. Thanks!! So glad you all like it :)

  6. Your buttons are very nice and become the highlight for the bag. I have some wooden buttons, but they don't match my handy crafts.

    Helen @ http://teflstore.com/certification-tesol/

  7. Oh my, thank you for such a lovely tutorial, I finally got the chance to make one and I love it ! Thanks agai!

  8. These are fantastic. I can't wait to make them for my sewing buddies. Thank you!

  9. these are so cute. Now i am trying to do this. Thank you very much for lovely tutorial

  10. Thank you so much for doing an entire tutorial. Making this project so much easier. I am a novice sewer :) What brand are the vintage looking buttons? Thanks again.

    1. Hi Robin, I'm so glad you liked the tutorial! I don't know the brands of the buttons, I just searched for plastic vintage buttons on Etsy and sorted through tins of buttons at thrift shops :) Happy Stitching!

  11. Hi! Thank you very much. Very nice bags and very nice ideas.