Adorable Drawstring Tote for Kids

Your little one will love carrying all his goodies around in this creative backpack.


  • 1/2 yard each of solid blue (bag body) and black-and-white print (bag lining)
  • 63 X 8" pieces assorted novelty prints (pocket)
  • 1/4 yard black-and-white stripe (straps/drawstring)
  • 18 X 33" batting
  • Jeans needle
  • For optional name tag:
  • Scrap of solid white (front)
  • 3-1/2 X 8" piece red-and-orange dot (border, back)
  • Scrap of iron-on, heavy-duty interfacing (such as Fast2Fuse)
  • Permanent fabric pen
Finished Bag
  • 11-1/2 X 16"
  • Quantities are for 44/45"-wide, 100% cotton fabrics.
  • Measurements include 1/4" seam allowances.
  • Sew with right sides together unless otherwise stated.
Cut Your Fabrics

Cut pieces in the following order.

From solid blue, cut:
--2--13 X 17" rectangles
--1--7 X 13" rectangle
--2--3 X 12-1/2" rectangles

From black-and-white print, cut:
--2--13 X 17" lining rectangles

From assorted novelty prints, cut:
--6--2-1/2 X 7" rectangles

From black-and-white stripe, cut:
--3 to 4--2 X 42" strips (For a child under 50" tall, use 3 strips; for a taller child, cut 4 strips.)

From batting, cut:
--2--12-3/4 X 16-3/4" rectangles
--1--6-3/4 X 12-3/4" rectangle

For optional name tag:

From solid white, cut:
--1--2 X 3" rectangle

From red-and-orange dot, cut:
--1--3 X 4" rectangle
--4--1 X 3" strips

From iron-on, heavy-duty interfacing, cut:
--1--2-1/4 X 3-1/4" rectangle

Assemble Backpack Panels
  1. With right sides together, layer a solid blue 13 X 17" rectangle and a black-and-white print 13 X 17" rectangle. Center 12-3/4 X 16-3/4" batting rectangle on top; pin all layers together. Sew around three sides, leaving one short edge (the bottom) open. Turn right side out; press.
  2. Turn raw edges of Step 1 unit 1/4" to wrong side. Machine-stitch 1/8" from edges to close opening and make a bag panel. Quilt bag panel as desired. We machine-quilted parallel lines 3/4" apart (Diagram 1).
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 to make and quilt a second bag panel.
Assemble Pocket Panel
  1. Referring to Diagram 2, sew together six assorted novelty print 2-1/2 X 7" rectangles along long edges to make a pocket rectangle. Press seams open to reduce bulk.
  2. With right sides together, layer pocket rectangle and solid blue 7 X 13" rectangle. Center 6-3/4 X 12-3 X 4" batting rectangle on top; pin all layers together. Sew around three sides, leaving one long edge (the bottom) open, to create pocket panel. Turn right side out; press.
  3. Quilt pocket panel as desired. We machine-quilted an all-over stipple.
  4. Topstitch 1/8" from top edge of panel for added durability.
Make Straps/Drawstrings

Piece black-and-white stripe 2 X 42" strips to make one long strip. Fold strip in half lengthwise, wrong side inside; press. Open up strip, then turn in raw edges to meet at center fold line (Diagram 3). Re-fold along center fold line and press. Stitch 1/8" away from long, double-fold edge. Cut prepared strip into two straps/drawstrings of equal lengths. (Optional: Cut a 6"-long name tag strap from prepared strip; set aside. Cut remaining prepared strip into two straps/drawstrings.)

Assemble and Add Casings
  1. Fold solid blue 3 X 12-1/2" rectangle in half lengthwise, right side inside. Sew along long edges and turn right side out. Tuck raw ends 1/4" to the inside; press. Topstitch ends closed to make a casing rectangle. Repeat to make a second casing rectangle.
  2. Position a casing rectangle on lining side of each bag panel with casing top edge 1" from top of bag panel and casing centered across panel width. Sew through all layers 1/8" from each long edge of casing rectangle, backstitching at each end of stitching for added durability (Diagram 4).
Assemble Name Tag (Optional)
  1. Using permanent fabric pen, write child's name in center of solid white 2 X 3" rectangle.
  2. Sew red-and-orange dot 1 X 3" strips to long edges of solid white rectangle. Add red-and-orange dot 1 X 3" strips to remaining edges to make name tag front as shown. Press all seams toward strips.
  3. With right sides together, layer name tag front and red-and-orange dot 3 X 4" rectangle; pin together. Sew around three sides, leaving one short edge open (the side that will be attached to the name tag strap). Turn right side out; press.
  4. Slip 2-1/4 X 3-1/4" interfacing rectangle inside name tag. Tuck raw edges of open end under interfacing; insert 6"-long strap about 1/2", then press to fuse all layers together. Using jeans needle, topstitch 1/8" from edges and 1/8" from seam between solid white and red-and-orange dot to make name tag.
  1. Pin a safety pin to end of one strap/drawstring. Insert safety pin through casing on one backpack panel, then pull strap/drawstring through. Repeat to run the same strap/drawstring through casing on remaining backpack panel (see red strap on Diagram 5). Make sure that the strap does not twist inside casing. Starting from opposite edge, repeat to run remaining strap/drawstring through casings in opposite direction (see green strap on Diagram 5).
  2. Pin ends of first strap/drawstring to one side of a backpack panel, 1-1/2" from bottom edge (this will be the front backpack panel). Repeat to pin ends of second strap/drawstring to remaining side of front backpack panel. Draw up drawstring to close top of backpack panels. Have the child try on the backpack panels; adjust strap/drawstring length if necessary, allowing extra length for bulky clothing underneath.
  3. With right sides together, position pocket panel upside down on front backpack panel so bottoms of each overlap by 1" (Diagram 6).
  4. Using a jeans needle for this step and those that follow, machine-stitch 1/8" from bottom end of pocket panel. (Optional: Pin end of name tag strap to side edge of front backpack panel, about 6" from bottom edge of panel.)
  5. Flip pocket panel up along stitching and pin side edges to front backpack panel. Topstitch a vertical line through center of pocket panel to create two smaller pockets, backstitching to secure seam ends.
  6. Place front and back backpack panels with right sides together. Beginning and ending 1/2" below casing rectangles, sew panels together along sides and bottom edge to complete backpack. Be careful not to catch middle of strap in stitching.
  7. To box bottom corners of backpack, align bottom seam with side seam at each corner to make a triangle. Sew across triangle several times, about 1" from point (Diagram 7). The seam will be bulky, so gently ease backpack through the machine. Trim excess fabric. Turn bag right side out.
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