cinch drawstring bag thumb1

Kids love hidden things and secrets.  So it was no surprise that my daughter went crazy over her new cinch drawstring bag with a hidden pocket.  These are great little bags to take to the pool or beach.  In the pocket you can keep sunglasses, sunblock or little snacks.  This size is for about a 2-4 year old.  You can adjust the size to make one larger.

Cinch drawstring bag

I went to my cousin’s house this Memorial Day weekend and she blows my sewing skills out of the water.  This is actually her brainchild not mine.


3 fat quarters – I used Riley Blake Verona Collection:

Damask Gray, Leaves Rouge, and Dots Teal

lining fabric

cotton cording

sewing machine/coordinating thread


rotary cutter and mat

iron/ironing board


Casing fabric: 14” x 4”

Main/Middle Fabric: 14” x 8.5” and 14” x 2.5”

Accent fabric: 14” x 3” and 14” x 4”

Liner fabric: 10.5” x 14”

Cotton Cording 43” (2 of them)

**Please note we will be using a combination of 1/2” and 1/4” seam allowances**

1.  Sew bottom accent piece along the 14” side to the main piece with right sides together, iron seams open (in picture below it is the middle and bottom piece). Repeat for back of bag pieces.

Fabric cuts

2. Take drawstring casing pieces and fold in short edged sides in 1/4” and another 1/4” and sew down, repeat for back piece.

3. Now take both casing pieces and fold them in half long ways wrong sides together. Set aside.

casing picture

4. Now to insert the hidden zippered pocket take the pocket pieces and apply fusible interfacing to both pieces.

5. Measure up 2 3/4” up from the bottom of the main piece and and mark a large rectangle 1/2” wide by 12” long. In the very center of this rectangle draw a line from end to end, stopping just 1/4” from each end and mark a little “V”. See picture.

6. Sew around this outer rectangle onto the front of your main panel.

7. Snip down the center line and the  little “v”, making sure not to snip any of your seams.hidden pocket

8. Next for the awkward part, push this entire pocket liner piece through the rectangular hole to the wrong side and iron really well so that it lays flat on the other side.

9. It looks like you must be doing it wrong but just focus on ironing each side and it will work out and look nice and crisp like the pic below

drawstring bag

10. Once it’s all ironed and crisp looking, take your zipper and line it up under the opening and pin it in place making sure it’s centered nicely and sew as close to the edge of the fabric as possible.

Cinch bag with hidden zipper

11. Now flip over the main piece and take the other pocket liner piece and pin them together, right sides facing but make sure to pin only the pocket pieces, do not pin the pocket pieces to the main piece!cinch bag tutorial

12. Next, take your zipper cover piece and fold right sides together and sew 1/4” along the long edge. Turn right side out and place seam to the center back and iron.

13. Now line up the bottom of this zipper cover with the seam of the main and accent piece and sew a line across the very top of this cover hiding the zipper and creating the “secret” pocket. Sneaky, sneaky Winking smile.Hidden zipper

14. Phew, that was the toughest part! The remainder of the bag is a breeze, I promise. Next grab your liner pieces and sew right sides together along the 2 sides and bottom pieces, leaving a 3” hole for turning using 1/2” seam allowance. Repeat with the main bag pieces, except you don’t need to leave a 3 in hole.

cinch drawstring bag

13. Now take the cord casing pieces we set aside in step 3 and line up the raw edges of the casing with the raw edges of the main bag and baste it in place, sewing close to the edge. Turn bag inside out.

cinch drawstring bag tutorial

14. Take liner piece and turn right side out and stick it inside the main bag piece with right sides together, lining up all the raw edges along the top and sew around edge using a 1/2” seam allowance.

sewing drawstring bag

15. Pull liner piece up out of the bag and turn bag right side out by pulling bag through the 3 in hole. Now you should have a bag that is lined.

lined cinch bag

16. Cut 2 cord pieces 43 inches long and thread one end through the right side until you end up back where you started and thread the second cord through the other side the same way. You should have 2 strands coming out of both sides.

stringing cinch bag

17. Seam rip the bottom side seam of the bag )on both sides) with enough room to place the cording into the bag.  Turn the bag inside out and sew the side seams closed with the cording in it.  Turn it right side out and then sew you opening closed.drawstring cinch backpack tutorial

drawstring bag

cinch bag

cinch drawstring tote

If you want to skip the hidden pocket to make it easier here is a boy cinch backpack embellished with the boy’s name instead.  This one is made from the Riley Blake Stars & Stripes Collection: Floral Cream, Plaid Cream, Solid Navy

boys cinch backpack



Disclosure: Riley Blake sent me the fabric to use for this project.

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  1. this helped so much!!! found you on pinterest. My middle schooler can only carry a cinch bag at school but still has to carry tons of books. I was having a hard time trying to figure out a lined bag. thanks

  2. I just made this bag, what a cute pattern and great photos. Thank You!
    A few hints -For Supplies – add a 12″ zipper. For Cutting: cut 2 of all pieces except just cut one of 14″ x 2.5″(middle fabric, it’s actually zipper cover) & cut one of the 14″ x 4″ (accent fabric, it’s actually the pocket liner). For step 4: the pocket pieces are called the accent fabric in the cutting instructions, fuse the 14″ x 3″ pieces with interfacing. For step 5: Use the 14″ x 4″ pocket liner piece. After rectangle is drawn, pin to main middle fabric. For step 6. Sew around the DRAWN rectangle …. On step 11, pin the pocket pieces (14″ x 3″) after you pin the pocket pieces, I carefully sewed around the pocket edges with 1/4 inch seam.

  3. Hello. First, let me say this bag is adorable!! I want to make one of these bags for my son. However I am having trouble understanding steps #5 and #6. You say to measure up 2 3/4 on the main piece and mark a rectangle. But in the picture for #5 the rectangle is drawn on the accent fabric (the 14×4 piece I think??). So do you mark the rectangle on the accent (pocket) piece and then sew it onto the main fabric 2 3/4 up from the bottom?? If so, does that mean when you cut open the seam you are cutting through the main fabric and the accent/pocket pieces?? Thanks for your help!!

  4. We listed two accent pieces in the cutting list with the smaller 14×3 inch piece already attached to the bottom of the main piece for the front of the bag, leaving the bigger 14×4 piece left for the pocket. Once the smaller piece was attached, that made the final measurement 14 inches across by 2 ¾ inches wide (having used a 1/4 inch seam allowance) now if you place the 14×4 inch accent piece face down over the main bag, you will have 1 ¼ inch of the top edge of the fabric to work with above the seam underneath on the main bag. So starting at 2 ¾ inch, mark the bottom of the rectangle at this line and continue marking the rest of the rectangle 1/2 inch ABOVE this line. Then you won’t cut into the seam below. Make sense? You can see in picture 9 that we cut above the seam. So when it’s all shoved through to the back and ironed neatly, you have a ¾ inch edge along that top with which to attach the backing as explained in step 11. Hope that helps!

  5. I just saw your response in my email. I’m not sure how I missed it when you originally responded, but I wanted to say thank you for the explanation and sorry I didn’t reply sooner.

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