If you have pants in your closet that you’re no longer wearing, this is a fun (and easy) way to upcycle them. When I was hunting a pair of pants to turn into a drawstring bag for my son, I was originally looking through old jeans. I did attempt this project with jeans, but wasn’t quite happy with the outcome because the jeans were so thick the bag didn’t draw up and close very well. So, I dug around some more and found this pair of capris that already had zippered pockets on the outside and drawstrings at the bottom. I was excited to find I could actually create three different bags from this one pair of capris.
Read the tutorial below to learn how I made the bags pictured above and how you can create your very own drawstring bags!
- Used Pants
- Sewing thread to match pants
- Sewing Machine
Drawstring Back Pack
1. After choosing the pants you want to use, lay them out and plan where you want to cut to make the size bag you desire.
2. Since I was making this bag for my toddler son, I wanted it to be the right size for him. I wanted it to be about 15″ tall, so I cut the pant leg at 17″ to give me room to sew the draw string in the top and sew the sides together at the bottom. I also cut based on where the zippered pockets where, so those could be enjoyed on the bag.
3. At what would be the top of the bag, I made cuts on the two sides. I cut a slit down about 2″ and then slightly cut outward to sew a small hem where the draw string would be strung through.
4. I then folded the three cuts I made in and sewed them as pictured.
Note: Since I cut my capris higher on the leg (to include the zippered pockets), I had a spot along the top that didn’t match evenly with the other side. I cut a portion of the pants I wasn’t using and patched it to the top of the bag so I would have enough fabric to fold down and hold the drawstring. The picture on the left shows where the top was uneven and the patch I cut to sew into the dip. If this happens to you, this is a way to fix the uneven spot.
5. Turn the bag inside out. Fold the top sides that were cut 2″ down in half, pin. Make sure the amount you fold leaves enough room for two rows of your drawstring to pass through with ease.
6. Sew both sides of the top of the bag. Tip: Fold the raw edge at the top in about 1/4″ and sew along that area to have a smooth inside hem.
7. Insert your drawstring by threading it through from left to right on one side of the bag and continue to thread it through the other side from right to left so that the two ends meet on one side of the bag.
Tip: I made my threading tool out of wire I already had in my craft supplies. I cut it double the width of my bag. Then I folded the wire in half and twisted it together. I put the drawstring through the loop in the wire where I folded it in half and then I curled the ends of the rough edges over so they wouldn’t get caught inside the bag. It would be possible to use an old wire hanger to make this same type of tool.
8. To make sure I cut the drawstring to the correct length, I pulled the top of the bag and drawstring to make the bag close. Then, I laid out one of my son’s jackets that fits him really well and looped the drawstring around the shoulder and down to the bottom of the bag. I added a couple inches at the bottom to allow for a knot to be tied.
9. I then laid out the bag and drawstring, and measured another piece of drawstring to a matching length. In this case, I cut each drawstring cord to 64″.
10. Repeat step #7, only start on the opposite side of the bag. Thread the drawstring from right to left and continue through the other side from left to right. Pull the drawstrings out so they are even and tie a knot at the ends.
11. Put the drawstring through the inside of the bag and pull the ends out the bottom corners. Pin the bottom shut and sew it, making sure to sew the corners well so the drawstrings stay in place.
12. Turn the bag right side out. Try it out, make sure you like it and that is opens and closes with ease.
Simple Drawstring Bag
If you have a pair of pants that already has a drawstring at the bottom, this bag can be made in a few simple steps.
1. Cut the pant leg at the length you desire. Note: When measuring where to cut, add about 1/2″ to allow for a seam at what will be the bottom of your bag.
2. If there is a slit in your pants just under the drawstring, sew it shut.
3. Turn the pant let inside out and pin the bottom.
4. Sew the bottom of the bag, turn it inside out, and voila – you have an upcycled drawstring bag!
When I cut my capris to make the first drawstring back pack, I cut the bottom drawstring and a few inches off the bottom of the pant leg. I ended up making a mini drawstring bag from that section of the capris. This matching little bag is a great option for tossing small items into and then carrying it in the larger bags.