Drawstring Box Tutorial

Here’s a fairly quick project that looks pretty sharp and can take on different styles depending on your storage needs.

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These box/bags would be great for storing a crafty project, especially yarns for knitting or crochet, as the yarn could feed right through the drawstring opening and won’t roll away from you since it’s secure in the box. Or, make up some quick beanbags and this box/bag serves in both storage and game play.

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Don’t let the number of photos in this tutorial fool you—it took me about two hours from start to finish. So, let’s get started!

Note: In designing this box, I ended up creating my own pattern to make it look like the idea in my head, but throughout this tutorial you will see links to several other tutorials for items with some similar features. I have done this because I know sometimes it can be helpful to read more than one explanation of a process and see additional photos. I hope it will help!


Drawstring Box Tutorial

  • Two pieces of heavy, stiff interfacing measuring about 18″ x 11″ or thin cardboard cut to the size of the the sides and bottom of your box
  • About 2/3 to 1 yard of fabric for the box (I used the same fabric for the outside and the lining, but you could do two different fabrics if you like.)
  • About 1/3 yard fabric for the drawstring top
  • Small amount of fabric for your top edge accent (see those instructions for measurements)
  • Two 1-yard lengths of string, ribbon, cord—whatever you want to use for your drawstring
  • Thread and needle or sewing machine
  • Cutting tools
  • Paper for creating your pattern

The Box

You need to start with a fabric box. I’ll show you how I made mine, but there are multiple ways to do this portion of the project, and they’ll all end up the same in the end. Instead of my version, you could also follow a tutorial like this or this or this and then, when you’ve got the outer and inner box pieces put together with interfacing between and raw edges around the top, pick up here at the section marked “Drawstring Top” to achieve the same result.

So, to make my fabric box, I started by drawing up a pattern that was a sort of T shape. (I did it in the same way as in this tutorial.)

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The top measures 17″ across. The entire piece is 10 1/2″ tall, but you’ll have a 4 1/2″ square piece cut out of each of the bottom corners so that the bottom measures 8 1/2″ long. (See photo if this isn’t clear.) Of course, you can always change these measurements to alter the size and shape of your box.

Placing the bottom (8 1/2″) side of the pattern on the fold of my fabric, I cut it out with 1/4″ seam allowance added and then cut a second one as well. I did the same thing with my interfacing, minus the seam allowance.

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With wrong sides together, sew the 6 1/4″ sides (the ends of the top of the T) together with 1/4″ seam allowance. Do this on both pieces of fabric.

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Press that seam open and flatten the box so that the remaining raw edges beneath that seam (where you cut out the 4 1/4″ squares) line up.

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Sew these edges together with 1/4″ seam allowance. Do this on each piece of fabric.

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Optional: You can do the same with your interfacing if you like, but I chose not to. It fits into the box pretty easily without seams.

Now you’ve got a floppy box, like so:

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Turn one of the boxes right-side-out. Place your interfacing box inside.

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Then add the second box inside that.

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You’ll need to do some shuffling around to get all the corners and edges in place. (You can tack the corners together if you wish.) Don’t worry if your raw edges don’t line up perfectly. Just get the inside of the box how you want it and trim the raw edges to make them even.

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Optional: At this point I chose to baste all three layers around the top, just to keep them from sliding as I did the next steps. This isn’t necessary but may be helpful if you’re worried about keeping the edges together.

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You could stop here and make this into a cat bed, apparently.

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But I decided to keep going.

Drawstring Top

Take your drawstring fabric and cut out two pieces that measure 17 1/2″ long. To achieve the exact same look as my box, the pieces should be 6 1/4″ tall, but if you want a taller drawstring portion, you can always adjust this number.

(Note: I used a fabric that had no right or wrong side, so it looks the same on both sides except for a couple of seams. If your fabric has a wrong side that you want to cover, you can always line this piece as well.)

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Place the pieces right-sides-together. Mark 2 1/2″ down from the top on each short side and sew each of the short sides together with 1/4″ seam allowance, stopping when you get to your marks.

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This will create a tube with two openings at the top for your drawstring, like so:

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Press your seams open.

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Fold the top of the tube down 1/2″ and press. Fold down another 1″ and press. (Note: You may need to adjust these measurements to better accommodate the width of what you’ve chosen to use for your drawstring.)

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Topstitch close to the bottom fold. This creates your drawstring casing.

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Now, with the wrong side of your drawstring fabric out, place it inside your fabric box with the casing going down into the box. Line up the raw edges of the bottom of the drawstring fabric with the raw edges of the top of the box. The wrong side of the drawstring fabric should now be against the inside of the box. At this point you can baste the drawstring fabric to the box if desired.

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Accent Edge

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With your accent fabric, sew 1 1/2″ strips together on the short ends until you’ve achieved a length of roughly 1 yard. You can sew them with angled joins like you would sew bias strips for a quilt binding, but I actually just made my seams straight and it worked just fine.

(Sorry, didn’t take photos here, but if you’re lost on making a binding strip like this, this tutorial or this tutorial are helpful. There are also quite a few videos of this process on YouTube if you need a better visual.)

Press one short end of your strip in 1/4″ for a finished edge.

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Turn your finished strip down 1/2″ and press.

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Fold the other long edge of the strip down 1/4″ and press. (The raw edge should meet the raw edge of the 1/2″ fold you just did.)

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Then fold where the raw edges meet and press, so that one side of your strip is 1/2″ wide and the other side is 1/4″ wide. This will essentially give you something resembling a bias strip for finishing your raw edges.

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(You can, of course, adjust these measurements for whatever look you want to achieve. I wanted the accent to be wider on the outside of the bag and narrower on the inside.)

Place the 1/2″ side of your bias strip against the outside of your box with right sides together and pin in place.

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Make sure your short end with the raw edge overlaps the short end with the pressed edge so you won’t have any exposed edges in the end.

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Sew the bias strip to the box with 1/2″ seam allowance. Note that this seam will show on the inside of the box, so make sure you’re using a thread color you’re happy with!

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Then fold your strip over all the raw edges of the box and drawstring fabric so that the middle pressing mark is at the top of the box and your next folded edge wraps into the inside of the box, like so:

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Pin it in place and hand stitch the strip to the inside of the box, as you would with a quilt binding.

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It should look like this when you’re done:

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The Drawstring

Now your raw edges are covered and your drawstring fabric is attached. The last step is to thread your drawstring into the casing.

Place a safety pin in the end of one drawstring and thread it into your casing on one side.

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Draw the string all the way through the casing, out the first opening and back into the second side …

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… all the way through until it comes back out the opening directly beside the one you went in. Tie a knot with your two ends.

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Then, starting on the opposite side of the box, thread your second drawstring into the opening (your first drawstring will just be going across this opening) and all the way around. You’ll cross over where the first drawstring begins and ends and go back into the casing.

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Bring your second drawstring back out beside where it went in and finish as you did with the first opening.

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Congratulations, you’ve done it!

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Keep the drawstring fabric pushed down into the box for a clean look.

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Or lift the drawstring fabric up and out for a larger bag/box.

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Or pull the drawstrings tight for a top that closes flat for storage.

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(Please feel free to contact me with any questions or corrections. I’m always happy to help!)

16 Responses to “Drawstring Box Tutorial”
  1. frou-frou says:

    Hi what a great bag and a brilliantly clear tutorial. Thanks so much for sharing,

    Fiona x

    written on September 20th, 2010, at 3:38 pm
  2. Ooty says:

    This is sooooooooooooo great! I love it – thanks!!!!

    written on September 21st, 2010, at 12:17 am
  3. Ravenhill says:

    What a fabulous tutorial! You have done a wonderful job on it making it look so easy! Thanks for sharing. I adore the shot with the cat sitting in it!
    emily xo

    written on September 21st, 2010, at 3:34 am
  4. linda says:

    Thanks for posting this tutorial! I’m a beginner but hope I can make one of these…makes me think of carrying bento boxes, too! Might be cute as a kitten caddy too…hehe. Thanks for sharing!

    written on September 21st, 2010, at 4:06 am
  5. Annie says:

    How fabulous. I got to your site from you linking to mine — and i’m glad I did — this is brillant for soooo many things! thank you for sharing!

    written on September 21st, 2010, at 7:08 am
  6. Stephanie says:

    Love this tute! Can’t wait to made a few of these!

    written on September 21st, 2010, at 12:17 pm
  7. bookwormbethie says:

    wow, what a tutorial! hilarious about the kitty hopping inside!!!!!

    written on September 21st, 2010, at 1:24 pm
  8. Lola Nova says:

    What a great tutorial, I love it! Thank you for sharing. I like the idea of using it as a bean bag storage and game play!

    written on September 21st, 2010, at 2:08 pm
  9. Chantal says:

    Fantastic tutorial! Great photos. Clear instructions. Charming cat. It’s now bookmarked in my craft projects folder. Thank you!

    written on September 22nd, 2010, at 9:26 am
  10. Misty says:

    This is great, thanks for the tutorial! I love the half-guilty look on your cat’s face as it sat in the container. :)

    written on September 22nd, 2010, at 8:06 pm
  11. Rachel says:

    Oh wow June! You always have the best tutorials. This is so well explained and all of the pictures are fantastic! You can really see all the care and thought that went into this. I’ll be linking. And I really want to make one. I love the idea of using this for knitting projects!

    written on September 22nd, 2010, at 11:47 pm
  12. CitricSugar says:

    Great tutorial!

    Cats are a wonderful judge of quality. If it has value or is remotely important to you, they will claim it. :-)

    written on September 23rd, 2010, at 2:36 pm
  13. Glenda says:

    Nice!!! Thank you for including so many pictures. The drawstring top makes it much more versatile.

    What a beautiful kitty. Love the little black dot on his/her nose :).

    written on September 24th, 2010, at 3:47 am
  14. Glenda says:

    An afterthought: This would be a lovely way to “wrap” a gift, while functioning as part of the gift!

    written on September 24th, 2010, at 3:50 am
  15. zeshuregi says:

    what a nice tutorial you have shared with us…so nice of yours….its really great dear…thanks

    written on September 25th, 2010, at 3:09 am
  16. Ali says:

    Wow! What a great tutorial! I love to have lots of pictures to guide me along, can’t wait to try this out! Thanks!

    written on September 25th, 2010, at 4:53 pm
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