How To Make A Drawstring Backpack

Making a drawstring backpack is a simple project that will have you looking at thrift store T-shirts in a brand new way. Having the ability to whip up a quick tote bag makes gift giving that much more fun. Package gifts in it, or have the bag be the gift. Learn how to make a drawstring backpack out of a discarded T-shirt in under an hour with these simple steps.

Supplies needed to make a drawstring backpack;

  • Large, X-large, XX or XXX-large T-shirt with a great saying or logo.
  • Sharp scissors
  • Cording, nylon, or braided yarn
  • Grommets
  • Hammer
  • Sewing machine
  • Safety pin
  1. Choose your material. A weird retro T-shirt from the local thrift shop, or a classic from the back of your closet are great choices. Pick a favorite sports team, band or bar to show your support and get extra mileage out of your T-shirts.
  2. Pull out your scissors and start slicing. Cut off the top of your T-shirt straight across. Cut off the sleeves and then the bottom hem; leave as much fabric as you can.
  3. Flip the shirt inside out. Sew the bottom of the shirt closed, reinforcing the stitching with another line or two of stitches and backstitching. Then sew the armholes closed in a diagonal line.
  4. Create a casing for the drawstring backpack. Fold the top down about an inch, pin and then sew. Stretchy fabric like T-shirt material should be sewn at a steady pace, and take advantage of pinning to keep everything flat. This should have created a  rectangle pouch, similar to a pillow case. The next steps will pull it all together into a drawstring backpack
  5. Insert grommets. Measure up about an inch from the bottom corner and insert the grommets with a hammer.
  6. Measure two pieces of drawstring cording of your choice. Each piece should be long enough to go through the casing and to the bottom of the bag, twice. Too much is better than not enough, it is easily adjusted.    
  7. Attach a safety pin to one end of the cording and thread it though the casing at the top of the bag. Leave a long tail and take the cord from one side to the other. Then take the second cord and start from the opposite side.
  8. Thread the two pieces of drawstring cording through the grommets on either side of the backpack. Tie together; use strong glue to seal it. If using nylon cording, you can quickly and carefully melt the ends with a match.  

Try on your drawstring backpack and adjust as necessary.