Introduction: How to Make a Drawstring Moneybag Purse

About: I’m a teacher and life-long learner who specializes in cosplay, needlework, props, and accessories! I am currently learning digital art, fashion illustration, and foam armor construction.

If you’ve ever wanted to sport that Scrooge McDuck or Rich Uncle Pennybags style, then you’re in luck! This simple sewing project will give you a perfect place to store your phone, wallet, keys, gold dubloons, and atiquities so that you can get back to swimming in a bin of your enormous wealth, post haste!


For the Main Bag:

  • Approximately ½ Yard Main Fabric
  • Approximately ½ Yard Lining Fabric
  • Ruler
  • Chalk Pencil
  • Matching Threads
  • ½ inch Single Fold Bias Tape
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Straight Pins
  • Sewing Machine
  • Approximately 2 Yards of Satin Ribbon
  • Safety Pin
  • Iron and Ironing Board
  • Tailor’s Sausage (optional, but helpful)

Dollar Sign Symbol: (There are many options for creating the Dollar Sign. The materials listed below reflect the method that I will be using. See Step 2 for other ideas if you do not have an embroidery machine.)

Materials for Machine Embroidery:

  • ¼ Yard of Contrasting Fabric
  • Temporary Spray Adhesive
  • Iron on, Tear Away Stabilizer
  • Embroidery Thread
  • Embroidery Machine
  • Fray Check
  • Small Scissors
  • Seam Ripper

Step 1: Cutting Out the Pieces

The fabrics that I choose for the main portion of the bag and the lining are both printed cottons; the outside portion of the bag has a type of burlap print, and the lining is a money print that I designed and ordered from Spoonflower. I highly recommend using cotton for the outer portion, though you could use an actual lining fabric for the interior if you prefer.

Tip: If you’re using printed fabrics like I am, be sure to orient the print in the direction that you want. For the burlap print this won’t matter, but for the dollar print it will make a difference! I want to be sure that the dollars are stacked up like a brick wall going up the tallest portion of the rectangle, with the heads right-side-up.

Use an iron to smooth any creases in your fabrics before marking and cutting. For the outside portion of the bag, fold the fabric in half so that the good sides are facing each other. Measure and mark a rectangle that is 10 inches wide by 13 inches tall. Cut out the shape marked onto the folded fabric, giving you two identical rectangles for the main body of the bag.

Fold the lining fabric in half so that the good sides are facing in. For the lining portion of the bag, repeat the steps above but with a rectangle that measures 10 inches wide by 11.5 inches tall. Cut this piece out of the lining, giving you two identical rectangles to make up the interior of the bag.

For the lining pockets, measure and mark a rectangle that is 10 inches wide by 3.5 inches tall onto the folded fabric. Cut out the shape, giving you two identical rectangles for an interior pocket on one side. If you’d like a set of pockets on the other side of the bag as well, repeat this process so that you have four identical pocket-sized rectangles. I’ll only be putting pockets on one side of my bag.

If you would like the money bag to be bigger, you could scale up any of the dimensions to your liking!

Set aside the lining pieces for the time being.

Step 2: Making the Dollar Sign

I highly recommend putting the dollar sign symbol on the main fabric before sewing anything together, as it is usually easier to apply the design when the fabric is flat and unattached to anything, regardless of the method you choose.

There are many methods that you could use to make the dollar sign: you could use a sewing machine to satin-stitch a contrasting fabric on top of the main fabric as an applique, use a Cricut to cut the shape out of iron-on material, or you could use a stencil and fabric paint to apply the design. I will be using an embroidery machine to create my dollar sign applique, so the directions that follow will pertain to this particular method.

Tip: Be sure to place the dollar sign in the center of the width of the fabric, but slightly lower than the center of the length. The reason that I recommend the sign being closer to the bottom of the bag is because the top will be folded over at the end to make the drawstring sleeve. By placing the sign about an inch and a half closer to the bottom now, it will look more centered later.

If you have access to an embroidery machine, and would like to use the same embroidery file that I’ll be using, I purchased mine off of Etsy here:

I’ll be using the 5 inch version on both sides of the bag.

To prepare your main fabric, cut a piece of iron-on, tear-away stabilizer that is slightly bigger than your hoop size and iron it onto the back side of your main fabric in the spot where you would like the dollar sign to go (center of the width, slightly more toward the bottom than the top, as noted above). If your chosen fabric is particularly flimsy, you can iron on a second layer of stabilizer. Hoop the fabric with the good side facing up and set it aside for a moment.

For my contrasting fabric, I chose a gold and black metallic cotton, but the choice is yours as far as color and texture! Iron any creases out of your contrasting fabric, and cut a piece slightly smaller than your hoop size. Apply a thin layer of temporary spray adhesive to the back of your contrasting fabric piece, and on a flat surface, smooth the contrasting fabric over the main fabric in the hoop, adhesive side down.

Thread your embroidery machine with a color of your choosing (I went with black thread) and let the machine work its magic! I personally love watching embroidery machines create designs, I find it to be very soothing. Once the first design is finished, unhoop your fabric and repeat the steps above for the second side of the bag.

In order to finish your embroidered applique, you’ll need to first turn the fabric over to the backside. Clip the bobbin threads on the back using a small pair of scissors, and carefully tear away the stabilizer. If you used more than one layer of stabilizer, I recommend that you tear off one layer at a time.

Once the back is cleaned up, turn the fabric back to the front. If there are any loose threads here, clip them as well. Use fray check to apply a thin line tracing around the entire dollar sign. Once this has dried, it is time to cut away the excess contrasting fabric. Be very patient and careful during this part, as it is very easy to cut through both layers of fabric by accident.

To begin, I gently pry up the edges of the contrasting fabric as close to the embroidery thread as I can. I then use the small scissors to cut a straight line all the way from an edge of the contrasting fabric to the design itself. Slowly trim along the edge of the design as close to the threads as possible, being careful to not cut any of the actual thread or the fabric beneath. I am constantly checking the main fabric during this part to ensure that it remains intact. This is the part of the entire bag-making process that usually takes the longest, so hang in there and take breaks whenever you need to!

To get to the more stubborn portions, such as the tiny, inner parts of the dollar sign, I like to take the sharp edge of my seam ripper and poke it through the contrasting fabric ONLY. Always check that you haven’t poked through both layers of fabric before proceeding! Much like opening up a buttonhole, you can carefully glide the seam ripper close to the threads in these smaller areas, and then use the scissors to finish it up.

Once you’ve finished cleaning up your appliques, give yourself a huge pat on the back, as that is no easy task! If your main fabric has become wrinkled in the process, iron it before setting these pieces aside.

Step 3: Creating the Interior Pockets

If you would like your bag to have a set of pockets on both sides, be sure to repeat each step twice! I will only be installing a single pocket set on one side.

Begin by pinning the matching edges of the two pocket pieces together with the wrong sides facing in, right/printed sides facing out. Baste stitch the pocket pieces together along all four sides with a very narrow ¼ inch stitch.

Cut a strip of bias tape to match the long edge of the pocket. Pin the right side of the bias tape to the right side of the upper edge of the pocket and sew along the bias tape crease. I changed the thread color to match the bias tape. Fold the bias tape over to the backside of the pocket piece and stitch in place.

Note: If you are using a printed fabric for this part like I am, make sure to check that the pattern is going the correct way. For example, the heads in the dollar bills should be right-side-up with the bias tape edging on top of the heads.

Line up the pocket piece with the bottom of one of the lining pieces and pin the sides in place. Baste the pocket sides to the lining sides with a narrow ¼ inch stitch.

At this point, you can use a ruler and your phone as a guide to see if you want to divide the pocket in half or in thirds. After checking to be sure that my phone would fit, I marked the halfway point with pins and used a straight stitch to divide the pocket in half.

Step 4: Sewing the Main Bag and Lining

To assemble the bag pieces, place the two lining pieces with the printed/right sides together and pin along what will become the sides and bottom of the bag. Sew along the sides and bottom with a ⅝ inch stitch, leaving the top open. Repeat this process with the main bag pieces. Clip the bottom two corners of the main bag and the lining as closely to the stitches as possible.

Using a tailor’s sausage or the narrow edge of the ironing board, press open the side seams and bottom seam of both the main bag and the lining to make these seams look nice and crisp. I usually start by gently pressing open the seam with my fingers, then pressing it flat with the iron. I find that the bottom of the bag is especially tricky to press flat. If you are having trouble reaching certain areas, you could steam the area with the iron and then carefully, without burning yourself, use your fingers to press that area flat. If any unattractive creases appear in the main body or lining of the bag during this process, you can use the iron to get rid of them before moving on.

Turn the main bag right-side out, using your pinky finger to gently pop out the bottom corners as much as possible. Leave the lining with the right sides/printed sides facing in.

Step 5: Making the Buttonholes

There will be four buttonholes total, two on either side of the side seams of the main bag, which will allow the ribbon handles to draw the top of the bag open and closed. If your sewing machine doesn’t have an automatic buttonhole function, you could alternatively hand stitch the buttonholes or use a seam ripped to create holes in the fabric and finish them off with either fray check or clear nail polish.

To mark where the buttonholes will go, I like to iron in the creases for the top hem now. Start by pressing the top, raw edge of the main bag in towards the wrong side of the bag by ¼ inch with your iron. Precision is very important at this stage, so I highly recommend utilizing a ruler. This is another part of the project that takes some patience. Take your time!

Once you have a nice, crisp ¼ inch fold, fold the edge in towards the wrong side of the bag again, this time measuring 2 inches total. Press a crease in place using the iron. This will be what the top hem of the bag will look like when finished: nice and clean, with no raw edges! Don’t sew this hem in place yet, but you can temporarily pin it in place for marking the buttonholes.

While the top hem is folded, use your chalk pencil to mark where the buttonholes will go. At each side seam, measure down from the top hem 1¾ inches. This will be the bottom-most point of each button hole. Mark a buttonhole on either side of the hem, about 1 inch apart from one another. Duplicate these markings on the other side seam as well.

Tip: The size of your buttonholes is partially dependent on the width and type of your ribbon. I chose a 7/8th inch wide satin ribbon. I wanted satin in particular because it would slide more easily through the ribbon channel, and because of this, I don’t necessarily need the buttonhole or the ribbon channel to be 7/8th inches wide to accommodate the ribbon. However, if you chose a ribbon or cord with more texture, you may want to plan the size of your buttonholes and the ribbon channel around that.

Unfold the top hem so that the buttonhole only goes through one layer of the fabric. I always recommend doing a test buttonhole on scrap fabric first, as well as pinning a small bit of tear away stabilizer, or even just a small piece of paper, to the underside of the fabric before proceeding. I’m going to set my machine to make a 12mm (approximately ½ inch) rounded buttonhole. Once your buttonhole test is done, line up the needle with the bottom-most point of each of your markings and create all four buttonholes.

Tip: I recommend always checking the bobbin thread in between each buttonhole. It’s a pain to redo them if the bobbin thread runs out halfway through!

To finish off the buttonholes, tear away any stabilizer you might have used and apply a little fray check to the center of what will become the hole. While the fray check is still wet, take your seam ripper and poke a hole between the two sides of threads. Carefully push your seam ripper to the other side of the buttonhole, taking care not to cut any of the threads. Once all four buttonholes are open and the fray check has dried, it’s time to move on to the next step.

Step 6: Installing the Lining and Ribbon Channels

Tuck the lining inside of the main bag so that the wrong sides of both bags are facing together. I like to line up the side seams of both the main bag and the lining, and then pin the sides in place to ensure that the lining doesn’t shift during this part. The lining should just reach the top of the main bag with the hem folded over. If your lining is a bit tall, you can trim off the excess so that it matches the hem of the main bag more precisely.

Fold the hem of the main bag over the raw edge of the lining, tucking the raw edge of the lining neatly underneath, and begin to pin the folded hem in place. We will be sewing two lines of straight stitches to complete the hem and make the ribbon channel: one line right below the button holes, and one directly above the buttonholes. When you are satisfied with how the lining fits inside the main bag, head back to your sewing machine and sew the bottom channel stitch and then the top channel stitch. See the pictures above for reference for the final hem.

Step 7: Inserting the Ribbons

We’re almost finished! Next, we’re going to be cutting two lengths of ribbon, both 29 inches long. Poke the safety pin through the end of one ribbon and secure. Insert the safety pin into a buttonhole on the left side of the seam and begin to gently push the pin clockwise through the channel, allowing the ribbon to travel with it. As you are working the ribbon through the channel, try to keep the satin side of the ribbon facing out for a much cleaner look.

When you reach the next set of buttonholes, poke the safety pin back out of the buttonhole and then immediately back into the next one and continue pushing the safety pin along. Once you have reached the fourth buttonhole, pull the safety pin and ribbon through it, as you are now back on the side you started on. Remove the safety pin.

You can finish off this ribbon by tying it in a tight double knot, or by sewing it, as I’ll be doing with mine. If you’d like to sew the ribbon ends together, first pin the ribbon ends with the wrong sides together and sew a straight stitch with about ½ inch seam allowance. Trim the seam allowance so it looks nice and neat. Then, fold the ribbon over this seam allowance so that the right sides are touching and pin, encasing the seam allowance you just made. Sew this in place, and pin down the little flap you’ve just made to one side. Once this is stitched down, the first ribbon is complete!

The second ribbon will be inserted the same way as the first, only you’ll start the safety pin on the opposite side. Insert the safety pin with the second ribbon attached into the other left-side button hole directly on top of the first ribbon and work the safety pin through the channel clockwise. When you come to the next buttonhole, poke the safety pin out and then immediately back into the buttonhole next to it. Continue working the ribbon along until you’ve reached the last buttonhole. Poke the safety pin out and pull the ribbon through so you have two matching ribbon tails on the other side now. Remove the safety pin and finish the ribbon edges the same way as the first.

When you pull on both completed ribbon loops, the top of the bag should gather together beautifully!

Step 8: Don Your Finest Monocle, Cane, and Top Hat. Well Done, Old Sport!

Great job, you now have a cute rich-guy bag for all your valuables! Now go dive in a giant bin full of money!