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Simple Drawstring Tote-bag to Hold an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox ~ Illustrated Instructions & Pattern

How to sew a drawstring bag large enough to hold an Operation Christmas Child shoebox.

I posted about my drawstring bags I made that a shoebox could fit inside to include in my shoe box gifts.  Operation Christmas Child recently shared my post for my Scrappy Draw String Tote Bags on their Facebook page which generated dozens of requests for a pattern.  Here is a step by step, illustrated how-to of my method for
making these.

I am all about quality and quantity in my shoe boxes.  So when I design a sewn or crocheted item I make sure it is well made but also very simply made so I can produce more to reach more kids.  So this is a super simple drawstring bag.  I do not square off the bottom corners, but you could choose to do that easily when you are finished.  I figured it would be roomier without it boxed if the child used it for items not in the shoe box.

REMINDER:  There has been some confusion with this.  The shoeboxes should not be sent to Samaritan's Purse in the bags, the bags are just sized this way, so once they make their way to the child inside the shoebox, the child will have something in which to carry the shoebox and the rest of the goodies inside of it.

NOTE:  The following instructions are for a tote bag just large enough to carry the Operation Christmas Child"Cardboard Go Boxes".  Below are also instructions on how you can figure the size needed for any shoe box.

Simple Drawstring Shoe Box Bag How-To 
(sized to fit OCC shoe boxes)  
[You can find two more variations below]

Supplies Needed:
  • 3/8 Yard 44/45" wide fabric
  • 64" for Drawstrings
    • Drawstring options (these are just a few):
      • Crochet a chain from heavy string or cotton yarn
      • cording
      • 3/8" to 1/2" grosgrain ribbon (burn or fray check ends to keep from unraveling)
      • narrow double fold bias tape (stitch together along open edge so it doesn't come open)
      • make your own from fabric (see below)
  • thread

I have used white thread so it will show up well in the images.

Use 1/2" seams.
  1. Cut fabric 12 1/2" by 40" (the design will go sideways on the bag, and one side will be upside down.  If you want both sides going the same direction cut two pieces 12 1/2" by 20 1/2" and make a seam across the bottom--like I said earlier, I try to keep everything simple so I don't mind the directional differences)
  2. Finish the long edges with method of choice (see some suggestions listed below) -- this will keep it from fraying and coming apart
    1. serge
    2. zig-zag
    3. fold over 1/4" and stitch
      Serged edges.  Note:  looks like my loopers need adjusted :-) .
  3. Press under 1/4" and then 1 1/4" on the short unfinished edges of the bag -- pressing wrong sides together so when finished it will be a 1 1/4" hem with outside fabric on the inside (what will be the top)
  4. Mark where this comes to on the edge finished sides with a pin
  5. Open it back out as before it was pressed
  6. With right sides together sew the two long sides from the pins down to the bottom while leaving above the pin open.
    1. Be sure to back stitch at beginning and ending of all stitching
  7. Press open side seems
  8. Press back un-sewn part of sides to top edge
  9. Stitch this pressed back part down one side, across the bottom and up the other side

  10. Repeat on other side
  11. Refold tops down at pressed lines
  12. Stitch close to bottom edge of both front & back
    1. Back stitch at both ends
  13. Stitch 1/8" from top of bag edge of both front & back
    1. Again -- back stitch at both ends
  14. Prepare your drawstrings of choice.
    1. Make two 32" each
    2. For fabric drawstring see below
  15. Feed one drawstring thru one side and then down the other side.
  16. Pull drawstring ends up evenly and tie the two ends together.
  17. Repeat starting at other end of bag.
  18. Pull on both drawstrings at the same time and the bag closes.

How To Make a Fabric Drawstring
  1. Cut each drawstring 32 1/2" x 1 1/2"
  2. Press under 1/4" at short ends
  3. Press under 1/4" along long sides
  4. Press in half
    Finished Drawstring; 2nd pressing of drawstring;  1st pressing of drawstring.
  5. Stitch close to edge (back stitching at beginning and end)
    1. Tip: You may need to move the needle over to the right a bit to get the narrow fabric to be under the needle and to move along with the feed dogs.

Making Drawstring Bags for Odd Size Shoe Boxes

Shoe boxes come in such a variety of sizes. If you'd like to make a special bag to fit a shoe box you have this is how you can do it.
  1.  Measure around the width (the short way) of the box.
  2. Add 4” to this measurement and divide the total by 2.  This equals the width of your fabric.
    1. Example:  22” + 4” = 26” divided by 2 = 13”
  3. Measure around the length (the long way) of the box.
  4. Add 8 1/2” to this measurement and this is your length of fabric.  
    1. Example:  29” + 8 1/2” = 37 1/2”
  5.  Drawstring will be the measurement of the width (no.1 above) plus 11”.
    1. Example:  22" + 11" = 33"
Patchwork Drawstring Bags

If you have scraps of fabric smaller than the 3/8 yard needed for the full the bag just piece them together to make your own fabric to fit the size needed to make your bag.  Finish all raw edges to keep them from fraying and coming apart.  Choose a style of bag above and sew as instructed.

I have done this with a variety of fabrics for one bag as well as patching together pieces of the same fabric to make it wide enough to cover a box.  It is a good idea to stitch your seams down for added strength.

Variation #1 Drawstring Bag (click image for illustrated how-to)

Click image for illustrated, step by step instructions.

Variation #2 Drawstring Bag  (click image for illustrated how-to)

Click image for illustrated, step by step instructions.

Share These Instructions

So many people have requested a tutorial on the drawstring tote bags that I know I can’t get the word out to them all.   I’d love to have you share this post on social media networks so others can find it and enjoy making them, too.  There are share buttons at the bottom of this post for your convenience. Thanks.

Show Us Your Finished Bags

I’d love to hear from you if you make a bag.  You can share a picture on the Simply Shoeboxes Facebook page, I’d love to see them!

Including the Finished Bag in a Shoe Box

Tuck the finished bag in a zipper lunch bag and squeeze out the air.
Takes up little room in the shoe box.

Mini Drawstring Bags (click image for illustrated how-to)

Here are some earlier instructions I posted for how to make small drawstring bags, good for pencils, toys, etc.

And here's one for a pencil pouch pattern and tutorial -- perfect for a hygiene kit, too.

And if you'd like some inspiration and tutorials for other drawstring bag ideas you can stop by Threading My Way's ongoing linky.

Want more crafting ideas for your shoebox gifts?  Check out my DIY Crafts for Operation Christmas Shoeboxes ~ How To's and Tutorials Index  here on Simply Shoeboxes.  Also stop by Crafting for Shoeboxes on Facebook to join a community of crafters sharing their work and ideas.


Anonymous said...

Do you have a pdf for these good pattern instructions?

Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

No, I have not had the time to put them in a PDF.

Pam @Threading My Way said...

As always, a great tutorial. You choose such bright fun fabric for your bags.

Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

Thanks, Pam.

Anonymous said...

great instructions..I usually make bags to include in my shoe boxes. sometimes I use clear plastic boxes so I use the bag to line the box.

Lisa said...

I tried, really tried, but just don't understand your instructions. I am not a sewer, have no machine, and would have to do by hand. Have anything a non-sewer could understand?

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