Project Drawstring Backpack Bag

Skill Level: Beginner     Duration: 1 hours

-+ FromTo Love List

Christmas is coming and you have lots of gifts to sew, yes? You need something quick and spunky for all the different personalities in your life! Look no further! For about $10, you can make these great bags from t-shirts (or fabric) in less than an hour! For boys, girls, and adults, these are great for snacks and such for soccer games, bike rides, trips, and much more!


  • Madeira® Aerolock serger thread
  • Madeira Aerofil all-purpose thread to match fabric
  • Either an XL child OR adult t-shirt OR ½ yard of fabric
  • Klasse Stretch Needles size 11 or 12
  • 2.5 yards (child bag) or 4 yards (teen/adult bag) of lanyard type cording for straps


  • Baby Lock® sewing machine
  • Baby Lock Serger


  1. First, cut your shirt (or fabric).

    You’ll lay the shirt flat and, for an easy shirt where the graphic is set down further from the neckline, cut 2 pieces (front and back) 13” by 16” for a child OR 16” by 19” for an adult (and you can adjust accordingly for ages in between). You probably want the graphic to be like 6” down from the top cut edge because we need to put a 1” casing in the top for the straps to pass through and it gathers there as it closes. I found that a lot of t-shirt graphics are set closer to the neckline. If yours is too high, see if you can sacrifice some of the graphic while preserving the look. If it would cut into the graphic too much and look silly, you can add fabric to the top (like the pink bag, pictured below). Also, check to see if you can cut the graphic out upside down…I was able to do that with the soccer ball (below) and the basketball (above). This allowed for lots of space above the graphic for the strap casing and gathering.

  2. After, you’ve cut your front and back, measure 2.5” from the TOP edges (right and left of both front and back pieces) and mark a ½” in from the side (shown below).

  3. Then, make a ½” clip at that mark into each side (4 clips total for right top and left top, front and back).

  4. Iron those 2.5” flaps in a half inch (if you are using a woven fabric, iron it under again so that you have a ¼” flap that conceals the raw edge).

    Jersey doesn’t fray, so, you don’t need to worry about folding it in again. Stitch those flaps in place.

  5. At the top edge, iron down a ½” and then, press that edge down another 2” to create a 1” casing.

  6. Stitch down the casing.

  7. Next, put the front and back together, pretty sides in towards each other. Stitch and serge/finish the lower edge first.

    Then, sew your side seams stopping 1.5” from the bottom edge, leaving a 1” opening (see graphic below, on right).

  8. Time to put the straps in!

    Cut your strapping in half and place a safety pin on one end of each strap. Lay the bag down flat, casings closest to you (bag is still inside out). Thread the first one through the lower casing and then through the top casing. Pull straps even.

  9. Now, you’re going to put your second strap in, starting at the opposite side (shown below). The same strap should be coming out of the two casings on one side. Do the same for the other side

  10. Now, you’re going to put your second strap in, starting at the opposite side (shown below). The same strap should be coming out of the two casings on one side. Do the same for the other side

  11. Pull each strap duo down into the (pretty side, inside) bag and down to the openings of its same side.

    If you are making this for a small person, you may need to make the straps smaller here by pulling more of the strapping through the opening.

  12. Now, you’ll stitch the rest of the seam down closed (over the straps, too) really well.

  13. Finally, finish/serge the sides of the bag. You may want to start at the top of the bag/seam allowance as it is easier to place the bag since the casing is somewhat bulky.

  14. I just zip the ends of my serging under the sewing machine so that the serging doesn’t start to unravel.

    Then clip the threads with the best little thread clippers ever…I just got these and I love them so much (Creative Notions Easy Squeeze Scissors)!

  15. Turn bag inside out and you are done! You can add some fun things inside the bag for the gift recipient eat, play with, or use!

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