Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sewing Project: Drawstring Bag

I've had in my mind for a while a sewing project I've wanted to do, and with a few days off between spring semester ending and summer classes starting, I decided there was no time like the present. For a few years, I've been holding on to old jeans, mostly for a big sewing project that is still in my future, but also because I thought it would be great to make a purse/bag out of denim.

Recently, I've been spending a lot of time at D*sneyland. When I go someplace like that, I just can't stand carrying a purse, it's got to be a backpack so my hands are free. So for a while, I've been using this simple bag where the draw strings are also the backpack straps.

This was a freebie. No offense to the Eastern Municipal Water District, but I always wore it so the words were against my back because they're kind of ugly. The fabric is cheap and it's not going to last forever, so eventually I'd need something else. At some point, I realized that the style would be pretty simple to copy without a pattern, so an idea was born to make one out of some of the denim fabric I've been hoarding.

I'm not by any means a super seamstress, but I've started following a few blogs for sewing tips, and have been loving the tutorials and free ideas at Stardust Shoes. When I saw this post, an idea was born to use one of her techniques on my bag, so I bookmarked her tutorial on Reverse Applique.

Fast forward to this weekend, and I have some time to "play" with the sewing machine. Keep in mind that when I "play" it is not without the making of many mistakes, so there was some seam-ripping involved when I had to fix a few things. Remember, no pattern was involved, so I occasional sewed part of it together only to realize that I should have completed another step first... and therefore spent some quality time with the seam ripper.

I dug through my stash of fabrics and found some fun patriotic prints to use for the accents on the bag, and this is the result. This first photo shows the bag laid flat. You can see the basic rectangle shape. Rather than stitch together pieces of denim to make the right size, I used the legs of the old jeans, including the existing seams.

I made a couple design adaptations here. First, the original used grommets to anchor the bottom end of the straps, and I wasn't feeling like I wanted to attempt grommets in my finished project. (Not to mention I had neither the grommets or the tool to set them.) Second, I think the bag will be easier to use (that is, pack full of stuff) with a simple box bottom. So I added a box bottom, securing the backpack straps into that seam. Second, the original used grommets to anchor the bottom of the straps, but I am less confident of using hardware on my fabric items than in my sewing, so instead, I decided to sew the straps into the seams that formed the box bottom.

So what about that great reverse applique idea I raved about? My camera isn't the best at close-up shots, but here's a tidbit of the design:

And finally, here's the front of the bag with the full design, and also folded over to show the coordinating fabric I used to line the bag:

Yes, I know. I'm officially M*ckey crazy. But isn't it cute?? Can't wait for my next trip to the happiest place on earth.

Originally posted at:


  1. I am thoroughly impressed Rebo!! Way to go. That is a very cute bag (and we cuter than the municipal one, I might add). You certainly are using your time off wisely. I would probably just be resting in front of the bo*ob tube after all that studying. I hope you are having a good break.

  2. Wow! It turned out cute! Way to go :)

  3. I'm looking at the tutorial and have a project in mind. Did you already own a pair of applique scissors, or did you have to buy a pair? I'd love to know how this process worked for you...