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How to Sew a Drawstring Bag from an Old T-shirt

Author: <Paul Oh> Email:
Date: Last modified <07/05/20>
Keywords: <drawstring bag, do it yourself, storage, tools, organization, sewing, T-Shirt>

The photo above is a (red) drawstring bag. One stuffs the bag with content and pulls the drawstrings to seal it. The big picture problem is conformity and finding the right bag. If one does find the right size commercial bag, they are often too rigid and can't carry odd-shaped items nicely. This tutorial shows one how to re-purpose an old or unwanted T-shirt. It's a useful and practical “beginners” sewing tutorial because one simply stitches the T-shirt's neckline, arm-holes and waist-hem. Once done, this drawstring bag can be used to store a lab tool and accessories. It takes about 90-minutes to complete.

Motivation and Audience

This tutorial's motivation is to (1) introduce lab members to sewing; and (2) think about tool/part organization and storage. DASL has a Brother CS-6000i sewing machine. Introduction of the Sewing machine is the DASL tutorial to first learn how to use this sewing machine. This tutorial assumes the reader has the following background and interests:

* Threading the machine and bobbins e.g. video and video
* Back-stitching e.g. YouTube Video

The rest of this tutorial is presented as follows:

  • Parts List and Sources
  • Sewing steps
  • Final Words

Parts List and Sources

To complete this tutorial, you'll need the following items

  1. A (used or unwanted) T-shirt (any size)
  2. String, cord, or shoe laces
  3. Chopstick/pencil/stick and tape
  4. Clothes iron and ironing board (useful but not mandatory)

Sewing Steps

Step 1: Stitch neckline and arm-holes

The dashed red-lines (above photo, left) show the three stitches needed. Recall that reverse stitches should be used in the beginning and end. Such stitches are secure and don't unravel easily. The photo below is the result; one see the neck-line has been stitched (right). Use a seam ripper to cut-off the loose ends (red-circles in photo, left).

Step 2: Iron and Stitch waistline

Turn the T-shirt inside-out (photo below, left). One observes that doing so, the stitches from Step 1 are no longer visible. Also, the logo on the T-shirt is no longer visible and thus makes the drawstring bag “clean”. Fold over the waistline about 1-inch. Set your clothes iron to “Cotton”. Iron along the fold line (photo below, red line on right).

Ironing will result in a clean and crisp fold (photo below, left). Line up the T-shirt and stitch. The T-shirt's waistline probably already has a hem line. That line can serve as a guide; simply stitch over it (and don't forget to add reverse stitches when you begin and end).

Step 3: Loop Drawstrings

Referring to the photo above, prepare two cords (left). Each cord is about twice the width of the T-shirt. Cut about a half-inch slit on both the right and left sides of the T-shirt (red circles in middle and right photo).

A chopstick or pencil will make looping easier. Tape the first cord to the chopstick (below, left) and thread the cord into the T-shirt's right slit (middle, red circle). Slide the chopstick and cord to exit the left slit (right, red circle).

Continue to thread the cord as seen in the photo below (top left; right photo is a close-up). Slide the chopstick and cord so that it exits the right slit (middle left). Untape the cord and knot the ends (bottom left).

Repeat the above steps with the remaining cord (photo below), but start from the T-shirt's left slit (top and middle left). Slide the chopstick and cord until it exits the right slit (top right). Continue threading the cord (bottom left) until it exits the left slit (bottom middle) and then knot the ends (bottom right).

Congratulations! The drawstring bag is ready (photo below). The left-two photos show the bag used for storing a power tool. Many times, such tools require accessories like drill bits and chucks. Additionally, one might need an extension cord. Finally, such tools may have batteries and chargers. This drawstring bag can be stuffed with all these components so that one doesn't have to bring an additional tool bag; it would have everything all in one place, to be ready for action.

The right-two photos above uses the drawstring bag as a travel bag. Often one has to bring USB chargers, laptop adapters, battery packs, and perhaps portable MI-FI units. These can be all stuffed into the drawstring bag. If it's too large, it can be knotted more compactly.

Final Words

Drawstring bags are commercially available. But everyone has an old or unwanted T-shirt. Rather than throw it away, it can be given new life, re-purposed as a drawstring bag. By design, the T-shirt is not cut (except for the slits). The stitches can be ripped apart in the rare case one wants the T-shirt again! Recall, that the motivation was to have a practical and useful project for sewing beginners. This drawstring bag serves this purpose and helps the lab with tool/part storage and organization as well.

The drawstring bag's simplicity (thread cords thru slits) can re-purpose many common items. The photo above was a sturdy rice bag that was cut in half. Such bags can withstand a lot of load and do not pierce easily. One simply stitches a hem, slits the sides, and slides two cords. Unwanted tote bags (e.g. from a trade show) can be turned inside-out and again, re-purposed as a drawstring bag too. Happy re-purposing!

how_to_sew_a_drawstring_bag_from_an_old_t-shirt.txt · Last modified: 2020/07/05 17:22 by pauloh