Drawstring Christmas gift bags

Last Christmas, I made felted slippers for my sister and her boyfriend, but before I made them, I asked what colors they would like. The boyfriend wasn't enthused — he said he didn't need a homemade gift. Reading between the lines, I suspect that what he really meant was that he didn't want a gift that looked homemade — a sentiment I fully understand.

Since I began knitting, I've often thought that the kind of knitter I aspire to be is one who makes handmade rather than homemade pieces. I think the trick is often in the details — finishing with an i-cord edge, taking the time to block diligently, understanding color dominance when doing fair isle, etc. But with gifts in particular, I also think about my knitted objects' durability — how they will wear two or three years after they have left my knitting bag.

Enter: the drawstring gift bag. For the last several years, I have made little drawstring bags (as in this Purl Soho tutorial) for my family's Christmas gifts, with the suggestion that they can use the bags to store the wool objects during the non-wool-friendly seasons. #savethewool #savethewrappingpaper

This year, I had a new idea for what I wanted for gift bags, and since I couldn't seem to find a tutorial online, I have written up what I did here. (Disclaimer: I am not nearly as comfortable with the sewing machine as I am with a pair of knitting needles, so read on at your own peril...)


Materials: 27" by 9" cut of fabric, thread, 22" of rope
Finished Dimensions: 8" by 8" bag + approximately 2" of fabric above drawstring

  1. Fold fabric in half lengthwise with wrong side of fabric facing out. On ONE side, mark the fabric to show where the opening for the rope will come at 4.75" and 5.5" from the top.
  2. Sew unmarked side of bag completely from bottom fold to top edge. 
  3. Sew marked side of bag: (1) from top edge to first mark (at 4.75") and (2) from second mark (at 5.5") to bottom fold. Basically, you should have about 3/4" of the seam that remains unsewn — this is where your rope will exit the bag. (See photo below.)
  4. Fold top of bag down 3" over itself, so front side of fabric is facing out. Iron in place. (See photo below.)
  5. Sew two seams around the top opening of the bag: (1) approximately 1/2" from bottom edge of folded down top and (2) approximately 1.5" from bottom edge of folded down top. These seams create the channel for your rope. (See photos below.)
  6. Turn bag inside out. The front side of the fabric should now be facing out.
  7. Use a safety pin to pull your rope through the channel you just created from the hole on the seam. This is a little tricky at the very end, because you have to push the safety pin through the folded edge of the fabric, but it is definitely possible! (See photos below.)

Step 3

Step 5 in progress

Step 7

Step 4

Step 5 completed

Step 7

Oh, and about last year's Christmas gift — those "homemade" felted slippers. My sister and her boyfriend wear them all the time: