How to make storage bags

Gaye Bocock

Home Design Advisor, John Lewis Cambridge

Get sorted for Spring

Drawstring bags can help you get your home in order. They can be made in all sizes and are great for storing shoes, handbags, out of season clothes, bed linen as well as somewhere to put your clothes ready for washing. They’re also ideal for children’s bedrooms as you can use them to store toys. Make one for toy cars, one for doll’s clothes, one for blocks etc. And to make it easier for your child to find their toys, why not appliqué a picture of what is inside on the front of the bag.

These versatile bags can be hung on hooks in your wardrobe, hung on the back of doors or stored neatly in cupboards. By hanging the bags, there is more surface area freed up in your wardrobe and items are easier to find.
So, why not get inspired and start sewing to welcome in a new uncluttered spring!

Here's how I made 2 styles of drawstring bags:

Shoe bag

What you will need





How to make it:

1. Cut out 2 pieces 34 x 36cm in fabric A for the main part of the bag and2 pieces 34 x 17cm in fabric B for the borders.

2. For the front of the bag, lay the long edge of one border piece over the long top edge of bag piece with the front sides together (so you're looking at the reverse of the fabric).

3. Pin and machine stitch a 1.5cm seam along this edge.

4. Repeat for back of bag with the remaining 2 pieces.

5. Lay front over back with the front sides of fabric together.

6. Beginning and ending at the seam where the border meets, pin and machine stitch a 1.5cm seam down both side edges and along the bottom.

7. Cut off both corner seam allowance at right angles to reduce bulk.

8. Press side seams open and neaten the seams with a machine zig-zag stitch, including the side raw edges of both borders.

9. Press 1.5cm over along top edge of both borders to reverse side.

10. Press 1.5cm over down short edges of both borders to reverse side and work a row of machine stitches 0.5cm in from the folded edge.

11. Fold both border pieces in half to reverse side of bag to cover the seam line.

12. Pin and machine stitch close to the fold. You have now made the channels for the drawstring.

13. Turn the bag out so the front side is facing you.

14. Cut 2 lengths of piping cord about 90cm long.

15. Thread one length of cord onto a safety pin and feed it through the channel on the front of bag and then through the back ending up on the side where you started. Repeat with the other cord length from the opposite side.

16. Knot the cord ends on each side together and then pull up each end to close bag.

You can embroider your bag as with the drawstring version below or tie a label onto the cord.
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Laundry bag

What you will need



How to make it:

1. Cut out a 73 x 110cm piece in fabric A for the outside of the bag and another piece the same size in fabric B for the lining.

2. Lay A over B with the front sides together (so you are looking at the reverse of the fabric) and pin and machine stitch a 1.5cm seam along the top (widest) edge.

3. Press seam open.

4. Lay the piece flat with the front side facing you and with fabric B ( remember the lining) at the bottom.

5. Now fold over from left to right so the front sides are together and the seam is running horizontally and making sure the seam ends meet.

6. Pin and machine stitch a 1.5cm seam across the top and down the long side. ( leave bottom edge open for turning through later on)

7. At the corner, cut off seam allowance at right angles to reduce bulk.

8. Now flip the bag right side out to reveal the front side of the fabric and press side seam open.

9. If you are planning to embroider a name straight on to the fabric or sew a patch on, this is the time to do it. Please read instructions at the end of the article to see how I did it.

10. To close the bottom of fabric B ( lining) press under 1.5cm turning all round into the inside of bag.

11. Pin and machine stitch close to the folds to close the opening.

12. Push the lining down inside the bag and roll the top seam between your fingers and thumbs to ensure it lies right along the edge.

13. Press top seamed edge flat and work a row of tacking stitches along the edge to keep in place.

14. To form the channels for the cord, mark 2 lines around the top of the bag with pins, one 6cm and the other 10cm down from the top edge. then, using the vanishing pen, join up the gaps between the pins to make a clear line to follow when machine stitching.

15. Beginning and ending at the side seam, machine the 2 rows following the lines, making sure you reinforce the ends of the machining over the side seam. This is to make sure when you cut the opening for the cord, the seam doesn't unravel.

16. Unpick the tacking stitches at top edge.

17. To open the channel for the cord, carefully use a stitch ripper to cut the stitches of the side seam between the 2 rows of machining.

18. Thread the end of the piping cord onto a safety pin and ease through the channel and out the other side.

19. Pull the cord through evenly and cut off to an appropriate length and knot the ends together.

20. Pull up cord to fasten bag.

To embroider your bag:

I cut out a piece of contrasting fabric 20 x 26cm and wrote ‘Laundry’ in freehand with the vanishing pen. Then I embroidered the letters in back stitch with some spare thread that I had in my sewing kit.After that I pressed under 1.5cm turning all around to the reverse side of the fabric and pinned and machine stitched in place on front of the bag.

Tip: If you decide to include a label, it is easier to sew it in place before you assemble the bag.

If you feel brave, just write straight on to the fabric with a permanent fabric pen!
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