What to sew for an almost-teenage boy? 

My son assures me he wouldn’t get out of his school alive if word got out that his mum makes his clothes!  He’s been appreciative of the gym bags, pencil cases and cushions I’ve made him over the years so I wonder if this sweet, slightly rough-hewn bag for school-break snacks will pass muster and not attract derision from his company of label-savvy mates.   

The internet is full of tutorials on making drawstring bags but I’m including my own step-by-step guide because it explains how to finish the edge openings (the holes for the cord).  This is easily done and will give the bag a durability to put up with daily use and a weekly wash.  With more fabric, you could use these instructions to make a gym bag; with less, a camera case.      

For the Nosebag measuring 21cm x 21cm, I used:

  • Two medium-weight calico pieces measuring 24cm x 27.5cm.  This includes a seam allowance of 1.5cm for the sides and the bottom of the bag, plus a 5cm allowance for the casing to be formed at the top of the bag. 

If the cord you’re using for the drawstring is thicker than the 5mm cord used here, you will need to make the casing allowance longer.

  • An old sleeping-bag cord in a macho army-green!
  • A completed cross-stitch kit from  This was backed with fusible interfacing and sewn onto one of the calico pieces.

To make the bag:

  • With the right sides together, sew the sides and the bottom of the bag up to the 5cm casing allowance.  Finish seam (I used a zigzag stitch).
  • On both sides, sew 3cm of a straight stitch from the top of the casing allowance.

This should leave a gap of 2cm between stitching.

  • Press the finished side seams to one side and the unfinished seams open.   
  • On the right side, topstitch from the top of casing allowance close to the seams and around the hole.  Trim seam allowances.  From the  right side, the opening should now look something like this:

  • From the right side, fold in 1cm of casing allowance into the inside of bag.  Press. 

  • Fold in another 2.5cm, pin and press.  Stitch casing close to the bottom of the folded edge.  
  • Insert the drawstring into the bag, allowing the width of the bag x 2 plus 10-12cm for the length of the cord.  Tie ends.  Repeat from other side.

 The bag is now ready so fill with nosh!