February 17, 2015

3-Step, Five Minute Drawstring Tote Bag for Operation Christmas Child Shoe Boxes

While rearranging my sewing room I came across several hand towels and bandannas that I had tucked away in my Operation Christmas Child craft pile a year or so ago.  I decided to quickly turn them into drawstring bags and the 3-Step, Five Minute Drawstring Tote Bag was born!  I love the sturdy fabrics and the fact that the seams are already finished.  The terrycloth is also great for the hygiene items and one towel is the perfect size to hold them all.


Supplies:
  • One or two hand towels or two bandannas
  • For bandanna bag:  Two 46", for hand towel bag:  Two 36" shoe laces or other drawstring [crocheted chains, 3/8" - 1/2" ribbon, sewn from fabric (see the bottom of this earlier post for how to sew a drawstring), rope]
  • Thread

Full Size Bag--uses two towels or bandannas
  1. Sew Casing
    1. Fold down one short edge on each towel or bandanna 1" towards the back side and stitch close to edge (at least 3/4" from folded edge)--be sure to back stitch at beginning and ending of stitching
  2. Stitch Bag
  3. Shoe laces make good drawstrings.
    1. Wrong sides together pin from right below casing down to corners and across bottom.
    2. Beginning below casing stitch close to finished edge (at least 1/4" from edge)--be sure to back stitch at beginning and ending of stitching
    3. NOTE:  you can put right sides together, stitch & turn.  I liked the finished edges on the outside and the drawstring is easier to thread, but I did them both ways before I decided on this as my preferred.  I do prefer right sides together for the bandannas.
  4. Thread Drawstring
    1. Feed one drawstring thru one side and then down the other side--using a large safety pin or tool made for this.
      1. Optional:  before tying ends together slip pony beads on.  Tie ends and pull beads close to knot.
    2. Pull drawstring ends up evenly and tie the two ends together.
    3. Repeat starting at other end of bag. (for illustration see this post which includes how to thread a drawstring)
    4. Pull on both drawstrings at the same time and the bag closes.

Half Bag --uses one towel (perfect for hygiene items)
  1. Sew Casing
    1. Fold down both short edges on towel or 1" towards the back side and stitch close to edge (at least 3/4" from folded edge)--be sure to back stitch at beginning and ending of stitching
  2. Stitch Bag
    1. Wrong sides together pin from right below casing down to corners.
    2. Beginning below casing stitch down each side close to finished edge (at least 1/4" from edge)--be sure to back stitch at beginning and ending of stitching
    3. NOTE:  you can put right sides together, stitch & turn.  I liked the finished edges on the outside and the drawstring is easier to thread, but I did them both ways before I decided on this as my preferred.  I do prefer right sides together for the bandannas.
  3. Thread Drawstring
    1. Feed one drawstring thru one side and then down the other side--using a large safety pin or tool made for this.
      1. Optional:  before tying ends together slip pony beads on.  Tie ends and pull beads close to knot.
    2. Pull drawstring ends up evenly and tie the two ends together.
    3. Repeat starting at other end of bag. (for illustration see this post which includes how to thread a drawstring)
    4. Pull on both drawstrings at the same time and the bag closes.

Hand towels can often be found on clearance at the end of different seasons.  I think we paid a quarter or less for each of these Christmas ones.  We bought shoe strings at Dollar Tree -- 8 for a dollar.

Notice that the design will be inverted.
The designs on hand towels are made to be right side up when hung on a towel bar.


I found that using heavy hand towels would take up too much room in the shoe box if making a full size bag -- they would be perfect for personal use as a beach bag or pool bag.  Thin hand towels made into the full size seem fine for tucking in a shoe box.


Bandannas are thin, sturdy fabric and are perfect for making larger bags.  They hold the Operation Christmas Child printed shoe boxes perfectly.  Oriental Trading has dozens to choose from at reasonable prices:  50/$34.99 and 12/$10.99.  They would be a good thing to watch to go on clearance.  Here are a few of my favorites.

              

Have you crafted for your shoe boxes with unusual items?  Do you include tote bags in your boxes?

Happy Packing!

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I sew a loop of ribbon sticking out of bottom of each side of the bag and run two crocheted ropes through just like a drawstring backpack. Used cheap hand towels from the dollar spot at target but if I could get a deal on better hand towels, I'd use those. Quick to sew at machine then crochet and run strings (use crochet hook) while on the couch watching a show :)

Cheryl said...

I love the idea of turning them into back packs. I often crochet drawstrings. Adding the simple loops of ribbon would be quick and easy. Thanks for the tip.

Pam @Threading My Way said...

Great idea to use towels and bandanas, Cheryl. As always, an easy to follow tutorial.

Unknown said...

I have stacks of napkins from tablecloth 'sets', most never used. They make quick and easy bags, and that drawer full of napkins becomes pretty bags for OCC boxes. That is a project for 2016 boxes, need to start early, did not get many made this year.

Sarah said...

What a GREAT idea!!! Holiday ones of those often go on sale, too...wheels of mind spinning...

alice said...

These bags are wonderful ideas, especially the ones made into backpacks. I have volunteered at the distribution center in Charlotte, NC for several years and wouldn't exchange the experience for anything. Processing the boxes is a 3 stage process, each stage requiring that the boxes be opened for inspection to make sure the contents are appropriate, sufficient, or that unacceptable items or money are removed and additional allowed items added. So, my advice would be to make the bags to be placed inside the boxes rather than the boxes in the bag. At any given moment there are hundreds of boxes being passed down the line, and time is of the essence. Having to remove the boxes and then reinsert them into the bag would be unworkable. Also, the boxes are packed into tight fitting cartons that hold only a specified number perfectly. Bags on the outside would end up being cast aside to allow for perfect fit. Again, the bags are a wonderful idea. I may try to make a few myself. But, I will place them inside my 2016 boxes. Just wanted to give you my perspective.

Sarah said...

Alice~Absolutely!!! Thanks for sharing! We do always pack them INSIDE the boxes! The only reason one box is pictured in the bag, instead of the bag inside the box is to show what size it is/that the child could, after distribution could carry the whole box in the bag. As the post said, thick towels aren't as good because they take up too much room in the boxes.

Anonymous said...

Rather than purchasing shoe strings, cords, etc. I've resorted to cutting a 1-1 and half inch strip off bottom of tee shirts just above hem, then stretching it as tightly as possible to make a cord. Saw the idea from another making jump ropes for OCC boxes.

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