DIY Tutorial – Drawstring Travel Bag with Free Design Template

Drawstring fabric bags are so convenient when traveling. They can be used to hold and organize a myriad of items such as shoes, swimsuits, craft projects and even dirty laundry. Use one to hold all your power cords and small electronics or organize your carry-on bag. This bag is really easy to make – even if you're just a  beginner. All you need is about 1/3 yard of fabric and some ribbon.

To celebrate the summer season, I created a free printable design for you to decorate your bag. I went for a simple design with a fun phrase. Who doesn't agree when someone says "Hooray for Summer"? Rather than doing the usual iron on transfer, this time I used a gold pen to trace the design onto my fabric. I love how the gold looks on muslin or white fabric. I used a really old Zig Painty Marker. I've had it for years (like 10 plus) but have hardly used it and it still works quite well. 

I discovered this method a couple of weeks ago when I had to make a last minute t-shirt for a party. It worked great and the shirt has even survived the washing machine unscathed. Using the pen is much easier on a woven fabric than on a knit as the knit catches the pen and makes it hard to draw a smooth line. I recommend testing the pen on paper before you touch the fabric to get rid of any excess ink. Also, you might find that you occasionally need to shake the pen and push it down on paper to get the ink flowing again.

DIY Drawstring Travel Bag with Free Design Template


2 pieces fabric 10.5 x 14.5 inches (a light color works best for tracing design template)

2 pieces ribbon or bias tape, each cut 28 inches long

Disappearing ink fabric pen


Safety Pin


Permanent Gold Pen 

Hooray For Summer Design Template PDF


Step 1: Download pdf and print without scaling. On a hard protected surface, place template under fabric with right side of fabric facing up. Align template so that it is 1 inch from each side and 1 inch from the bottom of the fabric. Using gold pen, trace the letters. 

Step 2: Finish fabric edges. Place fabric right sides together. Using disappearing ink fabric pen, mark points 1.5 inch and 2.5 inches from top on each side. The section between the markings will be the opening for the drawstring. Do not stitch between these markings.

Starting at top right edge, stitch to marking, backstitch and cut thread. Start stitching again at next marking (2.5 inches from top), pivot at bottom corners. Stop stitching at marking 2.5" from top of left hand side and backstitch. Start again at next marking, backstitch, continue to top edge and stop.

Step 3: Press seams open. Make the top casing. On the inside of the bag, fold top edge down 1.5 inches and press. Fold raw edge in .5 inch and press. If needed, pin in place. Topstitch casing in place, stitching close to folded edge about 1 inch from top.

Step 4: Thread ribbon drawstring. Attach one end of drawstring to safety pin. Thread through right side opening all the way around the top of the bag. Tie two ends of drawstring together.

Attach second drawstring to safety pin. Thread through left side opening all the way around the top of the bag. Tie two ends together.

Design Ideas:

1. Although woven medium-weight cottons are the easiest to sew with, try different materials and patterns like knit or or denim.

2. Piece together different fabrics for a patchwork look.

3. Use paint and a brush or stamps to decorate the fabric. Or, draw your own favorite quote with any color fabric pen.

4. Use contrasting drawstring or make your own. Add decorative beads to the ends of your drawstring.

5. Download one of my free iron-on printables, print and adhere to fabric.

6. Use only one piece of drawstring. It still works and saves on supplies.

I hope that you enjoy this tutorial. Do you have any summer travel plans? How do you like to organize your carry-on?