Keepsake Loot Bags

Kids love little bags, at least if my own is any indication. (Don’t you just love generalisations based on a sample size of one?) P loves to put his toys, or household effects in a small bag and carry them around. So when planning his party this year, I thought, why not do keepsake lootbags instead of the usual dollar store fare that disintegrates on contact? Yes, I am slightly insane. But in case you are equally insane, here is a “how-to.”

What you’ll need for 12 lootbags

  • 1/2 yard of a colourful fabric, 45″ in width
  • 1 yard of a solid (I used cheap muslin as it’s very affordable), also 45″ in width
  • coordinating thread
  • ruler, rotary mat and cutter (you can, of course, use scissors, but these tools will speed you up significantly)
  • a roll of ribbon; I think mine said it had 8 yards on it.
  • seam ripper (even if you don’t make any mistakes, you’ll still need this!)
  • a safety pin

A note before we start – I mostly used my serger to make this; a serger trims seam allowances, and also finishes them with a sort of overlock stitch.  You can still easily do this project without a serger, but you will want to finish the seams some other way.  The simplest way is just to sew a straight seam and use pinking shears on the seam allowances to prevent the fabric from fraying, but there are many other ways to finish seams too, and a quick Google will reveal many alternatives.  Onward:

1. First, lay out your half-yard of print fabric folded in half, so that when folded it measures 18″ by 22.5″; this is NOT selvedge to selvedge. Using your ruler and rotary cutter, cut out three columns, each 7″ wide; then cut the columns in half into 2 8″ high pieces; since the fabric is folded in half, you now have 12 rectangles that are each 7″ by 8″. The photo below shows what the fabric will look like when folded, and the chalk lines show where you would be cutting.

Cut lines for fabric

When measuring out your squares, don’t forget to leave a wee bit of space to cut off the fold.

2. Fold the solid fabric in half, like you did with the patterned fabric. Since it’s a yard, folded it will measures 36″ by 22.5″. Again cut three 7″ wide columns. Then cut horizontally so the columns are divided into four 7″ squares. It will look basically like the photo above except there will be three columns of FOUR squares, not two. Again, because the fabric was folded in half, you will now have 24 7″x7″ squares.

3. Sew a solid square to one of the 7″ sides of the patterned rectangle, right sides together; sew another solid square to the other side. It will look like this when you have sewed both squares on:

Three pieces
Repeat x 12.

4. You now have 12 long rectangles, each made up of three pieces of fabric. Fold them together, right sides together like so:

Sewing the Bag together

Sew along each side.

Sewing the sides of the bag

You now have the basic bag shape.

Basic Bag

Repeat for all 12 bags.

5. Now this is a perfectly respectable bag, and you can leave it like that if you want. But if you want to get really fun, you can “box” the sides of the bags. This will make the bags stand up a little more easily when there are things in them. It’s a little hard to explain how to do, but very easy, so please refer to the pictures below. Keep the bag inside-out, and pinch the corners as shown. Make a mark diagonally from the corner as shown. Sew a seam along that line. Repeat on the other side of the bag, and do the same for all 12.

Boxing the Corners 2

From another angle if that picture wasn’t clear enough:

Boxing the Corners

And here I am sewing along that line that I marked (although the line itself is not all that visible in this shot… but pretend it’s there!) Now my serger automatically cut off the little triangle for me, but if you are using a regular sewing machine, you will want to cut it off, leaving a half-inch seam allowance, (and you’ll also want to finish the seam.)

Boxing the Corners

Here’s how it will look once you have “boxed” both sides of the bag.

Boxed Corners

And see how cute it looks when it stands up (with something in it!) now?

6. Next step is to make the casing for the drawstring ribbon. With the bag still inside out, fold the upper hem down about 1/4 of an inch.

Then fold it over again, about the width of your ribbon, plus 1/4″.


7. Turn the bag right side out; start right before one of the seams at the top of the casing, and sew zigzag stitches across the seam; then switch to a straight stitch and sew along the very top of the casing. Repeat at the bottom (including the zigzag stitch! That’s important!) of the casing.

Sorry, I guess it was the middle of the night when I took this shot, but here I am sewing the top of the casing. I’ve started right before the seam and am sewing a zigzag; once I “cross” the seam, I’ll switch to a straight stitch.

Once again, do the same for all 12 bags. My zigzags are kind of ugly, but no one will notice. What’s important is, they are there, and you’ll see why in the next step.

Zig Zag stitches on seam

8. Next, get out your trusty seam ripper and carefully pick apart the stitches between each zigzag, as shown. This creates a hole for you to put the ribbon through.


9. Cut your drawstrings. I think mine were about 18″ long, but I just eyeballed it and trimmed the excess. Basically you want to leave enough ribbon so that you can loop it through the bag and tied a knot in the end. You may want to leave a little extra so you can trim the ends of the ribbon. Put a safety pin on the end of your ribbon, and then thread the ribbon through the hole you made with your seam ripper… the bag will look like so:

10. Tie a knot in the end of the ribbon and presto! Finito. Now comes the fun part… deciding what to put in them! I like to do “consumables” so I’m thinking a wee thing of kid-friendly bubble bath, a cookie, and maybe some stickers.

Finished Lootbags

If you make these lootbags, I’d love to hear about it below! 🙂