How to make a round drawstring pouch

Updated July 20, 2017

Drawstring bags have been around for centuries but became popular as a fashion accessory in the Victorian era. Dubbed the reticule, it was a small, heavily embellished pouch that was either carried or worn at the waist. Made from tapestry fabric, leather, crocheted fibres or chainmail, the purses became an early form of wearable art. Some reticules had metal frames and some were simple, lined drawstring bags like the one you can make with the following instructions.

Choose patterned or solid-colour fabrics that have an even weave and a medium weight. Lay each fabric face down on the work surface; position the circle template and mark a pencil line around the perimeter--cut on this line.

Mark a 1/4-inch seam allowance on the back side of the fabrics; mark placement for buttonholes on the face side of the outer layer (two 1/4-inch vertical buttonholes sewn 1/2 inch apart and 1 1/4 inch down from the seam line), the first set at any point on the circle, the second set directly opposite; form buttonholes according to machine instructions and then cut open.

Sew along the seam line, leaving a 1 1/2 inch opening for turning. Cut shallow V notches into the seam allowance every 3 inches around the circumference, taking care not to cut through the seam. Turn the project right side out, press the seam and then stitch the opening closed. Mark, then stitch two parallel casing lines at 1 inch and 1 1/2 inches in from the finished edge.

Thread the cording through the casing by inserting a safety pin through a knot tied at one end of the cording; direct the safety pin into one buttonhole and push it--and the cording--through the casing and out the partner buttonhole. Draw the cording 2 inches out and pin; repeat the process with the opposite set of buttonholes. Gather the pouch edges up by taking the ends of the cording--a pair in each hand--and pulling until the pouch closes. Trim the lengths of cording as desired and then tie a sturdy knot in each pair.


Line the bag with a contrasting fabric or choose a contrasting cord colour for more visual interest. Add embroidery, applique or other embellishments to the layers before stitching them together. Make bags as wedding party gifts; use colour-coordinated fabrics and trims and fill with potpourri or small gifts.


Keep all sewing tools and supplies out of the reach of small children and pets.

Things You'll Need

  • Sewing machine (with buttonhole feature)
  • Sewing kit
  • Round object (8 to 12 inches in diameter) for pattern template
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Fabric, 1/2 yard each layer
  • Cording, 2 yards (1/8 to 3/16 inches wide)
  • Safety pin, 1/4 inch wide head (to pull cording through casing)
  • Flat work surface
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About the Author

Kathy Arellano is newsletter editor for Grandparents As Parents, a nonprofit agency and contributes to two local newspapers, the "North Valley Reporter" and the "Crescenta Valley Sun." After a 15-year entertainment industry costuming career, she entered L.A. Valley College, served as editor-in-chief, copy editor and staff writer while earning her AA in journalism.