If you’re looking for a functional and stylish way to transport small items, look no further than the DIY drawstring bag. It sews up quick thanks to this free PDF pattern, and only uses 1 yard of fabric and some drawstring. We can’t stop making them in our Lightweight Cotton Twill! Check out the video tutorial below or jump ahead to the text and photo version if that’s more your speed. 

This DIY Drawstring Backpack is a Cinch | Spoonflower Blog


Cut Out the Pattern Pieces

DIY Drawstring Backpack - cut out pattern pieces | Spoonflower Blog

Begin by printing out Spoonflower’s drawstring backpack pattern and taping together the pattern. 

DIY Drawstring Backpack - cut out pattern pieces | Spoonflower Blog

DIY Drawstring Backpack - cut out pattern pieces | Spoonflower Blog

Next, cut out our fabric using the pattern. There should be 2 exterior bag pieces cut on the fold and two loop squares.

DIY Drawstring Backpack - hem the raw edges | Spoonflower Blog

Finish the raw edges of your exterior bag pieces in your preferred fashion. A zig-zag stitch will do the trick!

Assemble the Loop Squares

DIY Drawstring Backpack - create the loop squares | Spoonflower Blog

Take your two loop squares and fold them in half to create a crease down the center.

DIY Drawstring Backpack - create the loop squares | Spoonflower Blog

DIY Drawstring Backpack - create the loop squares | Spoonflower Blog

Unfold and press both top and bottom edges in toward the center crease, wrong sides touching. Fold in half again, matching up the folded edges, right sides touching.

Stitch the folded edges together with a 1/2″ seam allowance. Set aside.

Sew the Bag Together

DIY Drawstring Backpack - mark the bag | Spoonflower Blog

Take your two exterior bag pieces and make a small mark on the left and right sides 1 ½” down from the top edge of your bag.  

DIY Drawstring Backpack - hem | Spoonflower Blog

Press a ¼” hem on the left and right edges. This hem is short in length, and should only measure from the top of your bag to the mark you made 1 ½” down from the top edge.

DIY Drawstring Backpack - attach the square loop | Spoonflower Blog

With right sides together, match up your exterior bag pieces. Fold your sewn loop squares in half (matching the raw edges) and with raw edges aligned, sandwich your two loops between your exterior pieces 3” from the bottom of your bag. Stitch the bag together beginning and ending at the top 1 ½”  marks you initially made, making sure to catch the loop you’ve inserted.

DIY Drawstring Backpack - fold down the top portion of the bag | Spoonflower Blog

DIY Drawstring Backpack - hem | Spoonflower Blog

Fold the top edge of the bag down on both sides, matching up the folded edge with the 1 ½”  marks to create the casing for your drawstring. Press and pin into place and sew along the folded edge of the casing with a 1/2″ seam allowance.

DIY Drawstring Backpack - open your seam with a seam ripper | Spoonflower Blog

Once your casing is stitched in place, use a seam ripper or scissors to cut open the side seams of your bag from the top folded edge to the casing stitch line. 

Finish the Bag

DIY Drawstring Backpack - insert the drawstring | Spoonflower Blog

Cut your drawstring into two 2 yard lengths. Using a large safety pin attached to one end of a 2 yard drawstring length, feed the string through one side of the casing and then out the opposite casing. Repeat the same steps for the next drawstring, but enter through the opposite side of your first drawstring.

DIY Drawstring Backpack - thread the drawstring | Spoonflower Blog

Thread one end of your drawstring through one of the side loops at the bottom of your bag and tie both edges of the string together with an overhand knot. Repeat on the other side. You should have two backpack straps that cinch the bag’s top closed when pulled!

DIY Drawstring Backpack | Spoonflower Blog

A drawstring bag not only makes the perfect accessory, it also makes for a completely customizable gift! Sew one up for your favorite athlete in a fabric matching their sport of choice from the Marketplace.

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  • I was confused by this instruction: “Press a ¼” hem on each side from the top of your bag to the mark you made 1 ½” down from the edge.” I thought it meant to press the 1/4” on the side seam from the top to the 1 1/2” mark. Now I understand you meant to press 1/4” across the entire top. I think that instruction can be written clearer. Thank you.

    • Hi Nancy,

      Thanks so much for your comment! We’ve rewritten this section of the tutorial to make it a bit clearer for future readers. The hems should be 1/4 inch from the sides, but should only be 1.5 inches in length from the top of the bag.


  • Pattern dimension for each part:

    2 each 17.5″ x 7 7/8″

    Each small square is 3″ x 3″

    I measured another actual bag I had similar to this, and the finished dimensions were 17″ x 12.5″, so I am just going to cut my fabric to make that finished size and use the 3″ x 3″ squares and follow these instructions on how to assemble.

    • Hi Lorelei,

      Thanks for your question! The bag pattern is cut on the fold so the fabric width will be double the size of the pattern. I hope that helps, but if you have any more questions don’t hesitate to ask!

  • cheryle boyle

    Could you please give the dimensions to cut the fabric. The pattern does not print out completely; only prints page one. Love the bag design. Thank you.

    • Hi Cheryle,

      We’re sorry for the trouble! The bag pattern is roughly 8″ wide x 18″ long. I hope that helps, but if you have any more questions don’t hesitate to ask!

      • Thank you for the dimensions, I’m making these bags for my boys for Christmas, pattern doesn’t print out in full size.

  • Merle Mayfield

    Thank you for the pattern and instructions. I noticed in your last picture showing the finished bag that you have an old sewing machine in the corner. I have one too that was handed down from my grandmother. It had originally been a treadle machine, but my father put a motor on it for her. I am 65 so that kind of gives you an idea of how old it its. Looking forward to trying your fabric and wallpaper options. Happy sewing.

  • Ginger Lipscomb

    I love this! I’m student teaching in a Hillsborough high school and have been looking all over for a simple bag to make with my Apparel I classes. This one is perfect AND it’s from my favorite local fabric geniuses! We are about to cover fabric finishes and Spoonflower is (of course) who we will be talking about when we go over digital printing. We are going to hand print our own fabric for our backpacks, but I can’t wait until I teach advanced classes so we can upload our own designs and get fabric printed from Spoonflower to use in our projects. Thanks for existing and being awesome!

    • Julie C Crooks

      This is nearly the exact bag I made in 9th grade Home Ec Sewing 1 class! But ours had a divided pocket on the front panel!

      • Charlene Loftis

        Maybe things have changed since I was in school, but when I was in 9th grade we all made a dress, sleeves, zipper and all. 7th grade was a skirt with zipper, 8th grade was a jumper with a zipper. A bag like this is a good starter, but you underestimate the ability of that age. By the time I was in 12th grade (not in a class), I made my prom gown.