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Easy drawstring bags from old pillow cases

During Week 3 of the Sew Easy Summer SAL for Sip Tea and EPP "Ideas and Inspirations for working with recycled materials" hosted by Larisa @stitchingnotes and me, @nordiccrafter we are re-purposing cotton fabrics. Last year I shared few recycling ideas for men´s shirts on my blog. This year decided to upcycle old bedding. I like using large pieces from bed sheets or duvet covers as quilt backings, smaller pieces as inside backing for quilted cushions or lining on smaller makes. If the print has a nice stripe, I might use it as binding. Today I invite you to make a drawstring bag from an old IKEA pillowcase. I love the fact that IKEA textiles are often color coordinated, so the result is always harmonious and someone has done all hard work of picking coordinating fabrics for you. It is a quick and super easy make. Those bags are so handy. You can use them for storing and travelling instead of using plastic bags or as reusable gift bags. As you can guess from the tags these two bags are for dried herbs. My method of sewing is slightly different than usual technique but super simple and requires just few seams and folds. Actual sewing takes 15 min without embroidery.



The size of the pillow case was approx. 23 1/2" x 19 3/4" (60 x 50 cm), so I cut the fabric to maximize its use.


You will need (all measurements are width x height):

(1) Solid colored fabric (gray) 10 1/2" x 17" (26.7 x 43.2cm)

(2) Striped fabric 10 1/2" x 3" ( 26.7 x 7.6cm)

(1) Cord / Lace / String - width of the finished bag + 5" (12.7cm) . I used skinny strips (3/4" - 1" wide (1.9 -2.5cm) x 25-26" long (63.5-66cm)) of Liberty Tana Lawn I received as a free gift from a shop with my order. It frays a bit but adds a lovely touch to a bag. Alternatively, you can use wider pieces (fold them in half and stitch at /4" from the raw edge) or braid a cord using 3 skinny strips of fabric or some leftover yarn.

(1) small piece of white linen/cotton for the label

(1, optional) small piece (the same size as label) of Double sided fusible web (for example, Steam-A-Seam 2 by the Warm Company)

Embroidery floss, general sewing supplies


RS - right side, WS - wrong side, SA - seam allowance


1. Place the solid colored and striped fabrics RS together and align along the 10 1/2" side. Stitch the pieces together with 1/4" (0.6 cm) SA. Repeat for another 10 1/2" side.

2. Press the seams towards darker fabric and top stitch on the gray fabric at 1/8" (0.3cm) from the seam on both sides.

3. Press approx. 1/4" twice along the long sides and stitch close to the folded edge.

4. To make casing fold and press the short top and bottom edges, first 1/4" (0.6cm), then 1/2" (1.3cm).

5. Top stitch at 1/8" from the bottom fold, back stitch at the beginning and end.

6. Make labels. You can use leftover bits of linen or cotton. Using water soluble fabric marker write the labels. Embroider the letters using back stitch and two strands of embroidery floss.

7. Cut the label so you have approx 7/8" (2.2cm) around the letters. Using a needle, fray the edges of the label by pulling one thread at a time (you can find a video here). Work with one side at a time. If needed trim the threads so the fringe around the label is even.

8. Fold the bag in half lengthwise (WS together) and finger press the vertical centre line. Place the label on the centre line at 4 1/2" (11.4cm) from the top, pin in place. You can either stitch the label by hand using 2 strands of embroidery floss or by machine.

If attaching by machine I recommend adding double sided fusible web to the back of the label. Cut the fusible web the same size as your label without the fringe.

9. Fold the bag RS together in half aligning top edges and stitch the sides together next to the fold on the side seam, starting right under the casing and finishing at the bottom, back stitch at the beginning and end.

10. Turn the bag RS out and press the side seams.

11. Using a safety pin thread a cord/ribbon through the casing. If using Tana Lawn, you will need to iron it once you pull your ribbon as it is rather thin.

Your drawstring bag is ready!

Fill the bags and enjoy using them for years to come!


Happy Upcycling!❤


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