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Small Drawstring Bags for Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Gift Packing

Three small drawstring bags from one fat quarter.  Designed for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.

A variety of sizes of drawstring bags comes in handy in Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts.  In my Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes I always include hygiene items, school supplies and toys which all lend themselves to being tucked away in drawstring bags.  So I have designed a simple, frugal drawstring
bag that can be made any size to fit whatever I want to tuck in.

I am including measurements for three in this post that will easily hold items such as marbles, Legos, Hot Wheels, crayons, pencils, toothpaste, combs, and more.  All three of these can be made from one Fat Quarter (18" x 22") or any can be made from scraps you have on hand.  I used three different ones to get a variety of colors--I get bored easily, I like a change.  These fabrics were given to my mom by my niece after my sister died--she had purchased them, and several other with tea cups & pots, to make my mom a quilt.  My mom passed them on to me to make something special. I figure dozens of shoe box kids can benefit from this fabric.

To create your own custom size drawstring bag decide on the final size your bag needs to be to hold your item and add 3/4" to the width and 1" to the height.  If making a drawstring that is wider than 1/4" be sure and add the difference to the length also and then incorporate that amount in when making the casing.

Small Square Bottom Drawstring Bags How-to Sew Instructions


Small (marbles, legos):  4 1/2” long x 4 1/4” wide
Medium (crayons, hygiene items, hot wheels):  7” long x 5 3/4” wide
Large (pencils, sunglasses, toothpaste & toothbrush):  10” long x 4 1/4” wide


Scrap Fabric—one fat quarter will make all three; drawstring approx. 20” (23” for medium) and 1/4” wide (shoelace, ribbon [grosgrain is best—satin is slippery but works and what I had on hand so I used it], thin rope, crocheted chain—anything you would like or have on hand, be sure and allow 1/4” more than the size of your drawstring for the casing:  these instructions allow for 1/4” drawstring) and  the heavier the fabric the heavier the drawstring needs to be to keep it closed when drawn shut; thread


  • Press as you go—if you sew it, press it.  This makes everything look so much nicer and makes it easier to work with.  If something needs to be pressed in a specific manner I will note that.
  • Edge finishing:  use pinking shears, a serger, a zig zag stitch or fold over 1/8” and stitch down.
  • Use 3/8” seams unless otherwise noted.
  • Back-stitch at the beginning and end of all seams.


  1. Cut fabric – two pieces
    1. Small bag – 5 1/2” long, by 5” wide; Medium bag – 8” long, by 6 1/2” wide; Large bag – 11” long by 5” wide; choose a size – add 1/2” to both sides and to the bottom and 3/4” to the top of the finished size desired
  2. With right sides together sew bottom seam.  Finish edges.
  3. Lay open and finish edges all around.
  4. Fold with right sides together. 
  5. Stitch right side from bottom to top.
  6. Stitch left side from bottom to within 1 1/4” of top edge.
  7. Stitch from top of left side down 5/8” (this will leave a 5/8” opening).
  8. Press seams open.  If you stitch down the seam allowances on the right side down from the top to 1” it will make threading the drawstring easier.
  9. Press down 5/8” around top.  Stitch 1/2” from top (this is for 1/4” ribbon--make larger if your drawstring is wider than 1/4").
  10. Thread Drawstring thru casing.  Fray Check or burn ends of ribbon to prevent fraying.  {Optional:  thread a pony bead on before tying. It looks decorative, adds more color and can be pushed up when closed.}  Tie ends together.  If you open and close it several times it will “soften” the fabric and make it stay closed better—especially helpful with stiffer fabric.
  11. OPTIONAL:  I like to “box” the bottom of my bags.  To do this, turn the bag inside out.  Fold bottom to side matching seams, pin bottom seam to side seam,  stitch across to make a triangle.  Use these measurements from the corner seam in:  Small size 3/8”, medium 1/2”, large 5/8”.  Repeat on the other side.  Be sure to back stitch at the beginning and end.
    1. Press the triangles flat.  
    2. Turn right side out and press the two seams flat.  
    3. Press a crease from corner to corner of each stitched seam on the front and the back to create a “box” on the bottom (see image).
    4. Optional:  Press creases in sides from top to bottom edge of sewn triangle seam (same distance from seam all the way up) to make a “box.”  See image.
Threading My Way offers a link party where dozens of drawstring bags have been shared by bloggers.  A great place to find patterns and inspiration for making bags.

We have posted several other drawstring bag tutorials here on Simply Shoeboxes that we use in our Operation Christmas Child shoebox packing.  Here are links to a few you might enjoy:

Design and instructions copyright Simply Shoeboxes.  Please enjoy using this design for your personal use and for gift giving.


Mary said...

How did I not know you had a facebook! Just liked....wish I could LOVE! Great blog! Amazing crafts, and you work with precision and care.

Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

Why, thank you, Mary, I try to treat my shoe box kids as I did my own and pack and craft accordingly :-).

Pam @Threading My Way said...

Great going getting 3 bags from one fat quarter. Another very comprehensive tutorial. The bags look great!

Disclosure: Links on Simply Shoeboxes may be affiliate partners or referrals.