Simple Unlined Drawstring Tote Bag Tutorial for Operation Christmas Child

Here is a simple quick tutorial to show you just how easy it can be to sew useful items for children’s shoe box gifts. The finished size of this drawstring bag is 8″ x  8″. It can be made with or with out these boxed corners. It can be made larger or even smaller if you like. These are just some basis directions you can learn from and then off you go to dive into your own fabric stash and use what you have for a good cause!


For a bag like mine you will need:

two- rectangles of fabric 9″ w x 10″ h

one- 4.5″ x 5.5″ piece for outer pocket

one- 1/2″ w x 30″l piece of  cotton twill or fabric sewn to this size for the drawstring

For this bag I used a light weight flowered corduroy cut 9″ w x 10″ h.

flowered fabric for simple drawstring tote bag

Zig zag or surge 3 sides of upper edge of the 2 rectangles. 1.5″ down on each side and all the way across the top. This will be forming the drawstring casing for the bag. Do this for both pieces.


Now fold this zig zagged edge down 1″to the inside and press it. Then take it to your machine and sew along the bottom edge forming the casing.

20170119_140730                20170119_140844.jpg

Good time here to add your outer pocket. Finish  one 4.5″  side of  pocket piece either by pressing under 1/4″ then fold that over again and stitch across or you can surge the edge. I surged this green pocket and added a machine embroidered “Jesus Loves Me” to it. (I add this to every tote bag I make and send). Fold under 1/4″ on each side of pocket and sew to front of bag. You don’t need to worry about the bottom as it will be sewn in with the bags bottom seam.

Jesus Loves Me pocket on drawstring bag

Now simply layer front and back right sides together and sew sides and bottom leaving drawstring casing open. Its a good idea to always back stitch when starting and stopping seams. These seams can and should be surged or zig zagged  also to prevent fraying. These bags will get lots of kid tough handling!

drawstring tote bag

After the sides and bottom seams are sewn you are actually done except for inserting the drawstring! Unless you want to box those bottom corners. If you are not going to box the corners jump ahead to next step…

Everyone else look here.→ Boxing the corners of a bag opens up the bag bottom nicely to give it a fuller look and ease of finding treasures inside! To do it is easy. With the bag still inside out and right sides together match a corner side seam with the corner bottom seam. Smoosh it around with your thumb and finger till you feel them meet up. Then either open the seam allowance on each side or turn the side seam allowance to the right and the bottom seam allowance to the left. Either method reduces the bulk when you sew across it which is what you do next. For this size bag I sewed 1′ from the bags corner stitch point.

Try to get both corners sewn the same distance in from the corner.  Always measure from the seam not the fabric point. Back stitch at beginning and end here especially. Then clip that corner off leaving 1/2″ seam allowance.

Turn your bag right side out and take a look at your boxed bottom! Nice huh?

bottom of drawstring tote bag boxed bottom

Ok this is where we meet up with the non bottom boxing people 🙂 We will insert our drawstrings now.

For this bag I have used a 30″ piece of bias binding that I sewed shut. Here’s why: I was given a LOT of old bias binding. I do not use much binding especially this narrow size. So I have found a use for it. Drawstrings for bags! My motto – “waste not want not”

If you are using twill tape 1/2 wide you are set and ready. If you will be making the drawstring cut cotton fabric 1 1/2″ x 30″ fold long sides in 1/4″ on each side. Press. Fold again and sew down the center.

Attach a safety pin to one end of drawstring and insert in your bag casing on the right. Snake across the bag with safety pin and come out on left side, turn and go into casing on back of bag on left and work your way across to the right.

unlined drawstring tote bag with boxed corners tutorial

Pull string ends together and tie in a knot. There you have it one unlined drawstring bag with boxed corners and pocket ready to pack in an Operation Christmas Child shoe box for a boy or girl some where on this earth.



The possibilities are endless. Use the materials that you have and use your own skills and imagination to make the bags bright, fun, useful and sturdy. Hope this jump starts you to many more drawstring tote bags for kids!

till we meet again-know that God loves you!



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