Introduction: Making a Multi-purpose Drawstring Bag

The idea for this project was introduced by my boyfriend. He is in construction and was recently fitted for a respirator, but had no way to carry it to and from work. His profession requires the purchase of many tools and it can be expensive purchasing them with three little girls to raise, so he suggested we make one at home. The bag I made is being used to carry a respirator mask, but our girls quickly enlightened us that these bags can be used for many other purposes, such as an overnight stay, a trip to the gym or a day at the beach. While he chose a bright yellow one for visibility, our girls brought us their favorite Disney towels and insisted on owning their own personalized bags.

If you'd like to have a personalized bag or know someone who would enjoy one of their own, you can easily make these at home. Just choose any towel, depending on what size you would like to make the bag, who will be using it and what they may choose to use it for. Most people will already have the rest of the materials needed to complete this project lying around the house and as long as you own a sewing machine, this project only takes 20 minutes from start to finish. I was lucky enough to borrow my mother's sewing machine, and considering my lack of creativity or craftiness, I firmly believe, if I can make these, anyone can!

The instructions to follow will be for the purpose of carrying a full face respirator mask, but with the dimensions we used, the bag is big enough for many other purposes.

ALERT: Using a towel to store your respirator mask in is NOT recommended. A respirator mask should be stored in a sealed container to be protected from dust particles when not in use.

Step 1: Gathering the Materials and Tools

These are the materials needed in making a drawstring bag for a full face respirator mask.


  • The respirator mask
  • Towel
  • Shoelaces
  • Spool of upholstery thread (I used "Dual Duty", Heavy thread)


  • Pair of fabric scissors
  • Container of pins
  • Tape measure
  • Safety pin
  • Permanent marker
  • Basic sewing machine

Step 2: Cutting the Towel

  • Measure the length and full width around of the respirator mask
    • 25" around the widest section
    • 13" long
  • Measure the length and width of the towel to get maximum usage
    • 30" wide
    • 60" long
  • Using the tape measure and a permanent marker, mark the entire width of the towel with dots at 21" lengthwise.
  • Using the fabric scissors, cut along the dotted lines, providing you with a piece that is 21" long and 30" wide

Step 3: Pinning the Towel

  • Fold the 30"X21" towel piece in half so that it is 15"X21"
  • Be Careful Not to Poke Yourself with the Pins!
  • Pin the towel along the bottom and side edges.
    • Pin heads should be hanging off the edge of the towel to keep them from getting in the way of the sewing machine needle.

Step 4: Sewing the Edges

*** Not everyone has used a sewing machine before and not any sewing machine is the same as the next. I suggest reviewing your User's Manual or searching You Tube for helpful videos on threading and understanding the Control Settings of your personal sewing machine. I've provided a quick link to "You Tube" below to get your started. ***

  • Start at the bottom and stitch ¾" from the pinned edge, across the entire width of the bottom.
  • Then stitch ¾" from the edge, (Be Sure to Stop 3" from the Top) up the pinned side of the towel.
    • The top 3" on the side will be used later for the drawstring pocket.
  • Remove the pins.
  • Adjust the sewing machine settings to create a zigzag stitch.
  • Line the sewing machine needle up along the frayed edge of the towel.
    • When sewing a zigzag stitch, the needle should land just barely outside the frayed edge every other time it stitches downward, as seen above.
  • Sew directly along the frayed edges of the bottom and side of the towel, this will keep the edges from unraveling.
  • Flip your bag right side out, you are almost done!

***When searching for tutorials for your personal sewing machine, including the task, make and model number of your sewing machine helps to narrow down the results.***

*** ***

Step 5: Sewing the Drawstring Pocket

  • Fold the top edge of the open end of the bag over by 1½" to create the pocket for your drawstring.
    • Be sure to leave enough room for the size of drawstring you are using to be threaded through the pocket.
  • Secure the pocket by sewing the edge down.
  • Attach a large safety pin to the end of your shoelace and insert into one end.
    • Be careful not to poke yourself, close the safety pin!
  • Slowly scoot the safety pin through the pocket, being careful not to pull the shoelace completely through.
  • Tie the ends of the shoelace together and it is finished!

Step 6: Making Use of Excess Material

Depending on the size of the towel you used and the size of bag you decided to make, like me, you may have material left over. With the towel my boyfriend provided me, I was able to make two drawstring bags and still had a piece of material that was 30"X18". I decided to make a couple of washclothes with the leftover material

  • Cut the 30"X18" piece in half, so that you are left with (2) 15"X18" pieces.
  • Fold each frayed edge in ½" and pin down with the pin heads hanging off of the edge.
  • Sew all six edges with a zigzag stitch to prevent unraveling.
    • Be sure the zigzag stitch crosses over the frayed edge to be sewed down.
  • Remove the pins.