Introduction: 5-Minute Recycled Drawstring Pouch

This is a really simple and useful pouch that was spawned out of the leftover t-shirt scraps from my last project. It literally takes five minutes if you've got everything on hand and can work a needle and thread like a pro (up to fifteen minutes if you break the sewing machine in the process, like me :) )

*** Disclaimer: I am no sewing expert. I only learned how to fix and use our family's dusty old sewing machine two weeks ago to work on another project. I promptly broke it again during this project, so if you read any part of this project that makes you cringe and yell something similar to, "NO! You can't use that type of stitch!!!" please post your suggestion in the comments and I'll make the appropriate changes to this Instructable.

Step 1: Stuff You Need

- A scrap t-shirt with the sleeve intact (long-sleeved for a larger bag and shorts sleeve for a small bag)
- An old shoestring or whatever other string you have lying around. I would go for something longer than 30 cm (1 ft) for ease of use
- Thread. The thread material should ideally match your t-shirt material

- Scissors
- Needle
- Fabric chalk or a sharpie
- Sewing machine (optional. you can do this by hand)

Step 2: Cut the Sleeve Off

The sleeve of the t-shirt will be the body of the bag. The width of the bag will therefore be limited by the width of the sleeve, but the depth of the bag will depend on where you cut and sew it. Decide how big you want the bag, mark appropriately on the sleeve, and cut away.

Step 3: Sew the Base

Once the sleeve is cut off, you will be left with a tube that needs to be closed on the cut end. This will be the base of the bag. We'll need the hemmed end later, so leave that alone for now.

Flip the sleeve inside-out before you sew. I've marked the line that I wanted to sew along, but you can just go ahead and sew without it. I started with my sewing machine and used the straight stitch setting, but if you were to sew by hand, I believe a backstitch would be most ideal. Take a look at this reference for hand sewing instruction.

Step 4: Open the Drawstring Hole

The drawstring hole will be fashioned from the hem already built into the t-shirt sleeve. Find the spot where the hem meets the seam along the length of the sleeve (we'll call this the long seam). Fold the sleeve, or bag now, along that seam and cut off a notch just above the seam intersection. You want to cut off long seam but leave the hem intact. Essentially, you want to keep the hem intact for strength while cutting off enough of the long seam to open up the drawstring holes. See the photos for clarification.

Step 5: Strengthen the Drawstring Hole

Since the original stitching was probably weakened in the last cut, the next step is to tack on a couple of stitches in that area to prevent the bag from unraveling. I sort of stitched over the cut edge a dozen times or so. I believe this is called an overcast. Again, take a look at this handy reference for types of stitches.

Almost done!

Step 6: Thread the Drawstring

Last step is to thread the drawstring through. It's convenient to work with the a shoestring because it has aglets (the little plastic sheathes at the ends), which make it a lot easier to thread. Just slowly work the string through by pinching the aglet, compressing the fabric behind it, pinching the string behind that, and pulling the aglet ahead. I've tried my best to illustrate this process in the photos.

If you are using a string that is a bit more difficult to work with, you can either tape the end to make a makeshift aglet or tape the end to a stiff wire, skewer, or other device that can be pushed through the drawstring hole.

Once the drawstring is through, you are all done! How far off is the 5-minute estimate? :)

* One final note: It later occurred to me that you can make a much larger bag by using the body of the t-shirt. I couldn't do this because my previous project had left me with only sleeves, but it would allow you to use up an entire t-shirt to make two small bags and a big one. You would just need to open up two sets of holes for each of two drawstrings.