I have always loved traveling but HATED living out of a suitcase. You know how everything gets all jumbled up and the dirty clothes live next to the clean ones and the next thing you know, you’re sniffing socks to see if you’ve worn them? Tell me that happens to other people? When Aa travels for work, he stays at the kinds of places where you send your laundry out and they return it later that day with each individual pair of underwear wrapped in plastic and your shirts dry cleaned, pressed and hung. But in real life, like normal people, we’re usually in a regular, not-the-cheapest-on-travelocity-but-almost, hotel. And so when Aa suggested I started using the plastic laundry bags that even cheap hotels usually have in the closet to corral some of my suitcase mess, it was kind of a revelation!
I mean really, duh, right?! But it made things so much easier! Of course I kind of hated the plastic bags. For one, I’m generally, in life, trying to do my best to use as little plastic as I can. But also, for a long trip they’re never big enough and they were usually pretty flimsy. So before we went to California for a little winter sanity vacation, I thought, why don’t I make myself a nicer travel laundry bag!
This Drawstring Laundry Bag is a step up from Easy 3 Seam Drawstring Bag and I did do a little extra work to make it pretty, but if you want a really really simple version, that’s a great tutorial. This drawstring laundry bag combines some pretty fabric and one of my favorite techniques, freezer paper stenciling (which, if you’ve never done it before, is really easy)!
Travel Drawstring Laundry Bag
About 1/2 yard main fabric (fabric A, in my bag it’s the tan)
About 1/4 yard accent fabric (fabric B, in my bag it’s the patterned fabric)
2″ x 2″ scrap of fusible interfacing
1.First, cut your fabrics:
Cut 2: 16″ x 16″ from main fabric A, this is the main part of the bag
Cut 2: 16″ x 3 1/2″ from main fabric A, this is the inside top of the bag
Cut 2: 16″ x 5″ from accent fabric B, this is the bottom of the bag
Cut 1: 45″ x 3″ from accent fabric B, this is the drawstring
Cut 1: 3″ x 5″ from accent fabric B, this is the hanging loop
2. Set aside everything but one of the main body pieces. On your freezer paper, draw or trace the word “wash” on the matte (not shiny) side. Unlike other kinds of stencils, you don’t have to draw it backwards!
Position your stencil where you want it on the main body piece. I placed mine in the lower right corner making sure to leave enough room for the seam allowances. Using a medium setting and no steam, carefully press the stencil with an iron to adhere it. Be especially careful with small pointy ends and try not to rub with the iron. Don’t forget the center of the A!
Now it’s time for sewing!
3. First we’ll make the hanging loop and drawstring. Lay out the small rectangle you cut for the hanging loop.
You will topstitch along both long edges of the fabric.
4. To make the drawstring, follow the exact same procedure that you did for the hanging loop. The only difference is that, for the drawstring, you need to finish the ends because they will be exposed. To do that, after completing all of the folding and pressing steps above, unfold one end slightly and then fold each outer corner down and in toward the middle.
Next we can assemble the main part of the bag.
5. First take the main body piece that you stenciled, one of the bottom accent pieces and one of the inner top pieces. Lay them out like this:
Take the bottom piece and the inner top piece and flip them over so they lay on top of the main body piece, right sides together, and pin. Stitch along those seams with a 1/2″ seam allowance.
The inner top piece will fold down inside the bag to form the drawstring casing.
6. Next repeat step 5 with the back main body piece and the remaining bottom and inner top piece. Before you sew the top seam, take a moment to insert the drawstring loop. It will go between the main body piece and the inner top piece, facing in. Lay it out like this:
And then insert between the right sides of the fabrics and pin:
When you open up the back of the bag, it will look like this:
7. Next we need to make the buttonhole for the drawstring. On the front of your bag, measure and mark where you want the buttonhole to go using a disappearing ink fabric pen. I placed mine in the center of the bag, 2 inches down from the inner top fabric seam.
Then following the instructions that came with your sewing machine, use a buttonhole foot to make a 1″ buttonhole. (Want to know a secret? I used to think buttonholes were super scary. Like I’ve been sewing for 10+ years and I never really made one until recently. I was terrified of screwing it up and having to start a project over. But you know what, I was worried for nothing. It’s super easy. A thousand times easier than inserting a zipper, for example. So if you’ve never done it, try! I promise, you can do it! )
Use your seam ripper to open the buttonhole.
8. The final step before assembly is to fold over the top edge of the inner top piece 1/4 inch and press. Do this with the front and the back of the bag. This is just so you don’t have a raw edge inside the bag. If you don’t care, skip it!
9. Now lay your front piece down right side up and lay the back piece on top of it right side down (so right sides are together). Pin along the sides and bottom edges being sure to line up the seams where the bottom and inner top meet the main body pieces.
Take the inner top pieces and fold them down inside the bag and press like this:
Then, keeping the bag open like you would if you were hemming pants, sew two seams, one just above and one just below the buttonhole, around the entire circumference of the bag to create the channel for the drawstring.
Happy traveling friends!
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