Cinch Sack – Drawstring Backpack Tutorial

Here’s another sewing project to do in Haiti. It’s simple to make a cinch sack, but not quite as simple to explain the instructions. Hopefully they are clear enough to understand 😉


Cut a piece of fabric 36 inch x 16 inch.  A medium weight fabric is best. Too light and it may rip. Too heavy and it will be difficult to cinch shut.IMG_1736

Fold over ¼ – ½ inch down the long sides and stitch to get rid of your raw edge. (You may want to press it first to make the sewing easier.)


Now you are ready to make the casing which will eventually hold the drawstring. Fold and press the shorter sides under ¼ of an inch (the sides that still have a raw edge), and then fold and press again 1 ½ inches to form the casing. But don’t sew it yet.

Unfold what you just ironed (you will be able to see the creases), and then fold the piece in half matching raw edges.

Starting 3 ½ inches from top raw edge, sew side seam to within 3 inches of the bottom. These 3 inches that are left open will be where the drawstring is sewn in. (Sew between the pins – see photo – with a ½ inch seam.)


Press seams open.


Sew top 3 ½ inches (on both sides) in place as shown in photo.

Finishing top opening

Pin the casing down where it was pressed earlier and sew both sides close to the folded edge. You will end up with a casing that is open on each side of the bag.


It is good to reinforce the stitching where the open ends of the casing meet (as shown in photo)


Cut a light to medium weight knit or an athletic-type fabric 60 inches long and 2 inches wide. (You can also use a cotton fabric, but you would need to finish the edges. The knit and athletic fabric does not fray, so you do not need to finish the edges.) Purchased cording is another alternative for the straps.

Pin safety pin to one end of each strap. Pull strap through both casings forming a circle. Do the same with the second strap, but start on the opposite end. This will give you your drawstring.


Turn bag right side out.

Fold ends of straps in half, and lay one on top of the other. Stick the two ends an inch into the top of opening on the bottom of the bag. Pin in place. Do the same on the other side.

new straps in

Turn wrong side out again.

Take pin out of right side and pin it on the wrong side, and sew in place and finish the side seam to the bottom of the bag. It’s a good idea to reinforce the stitching going across the strap section.

Turn it right side out and you have a finished cinch bag.

Finished product

Another Easy Fabric Flower Tutorial

Mom came up with this simple little flower as a possible project to teach in Haiti. They are so cute, but for some reason my boys won’t let me put one in their hair.

You only need a few supplies to make one of these.

Flower 7

Supply List

fabric (small scraps are perfect)

needle and thread

scissors and measuring tape or rotary cutter and cutting board

iron and ironing board

button (optional)

Hair scrunchie or hair clip (optional)


You will need two cut two pieces of fabric.

1 – 3 1/2″ x 15″

1 – 2 1/2″ x 15″

Flower 1

Next, iron a crease in each piece about 1/4 inch off center as shown.

Flower 2

Once you have ironed both pieces, lay them one on top of the other as shown.

Flower 3

Now you  are ready for a little hand stitching. Stitch along the length of the fabric near the crease. (You will be sewing through all four layers). Your stitches should be about 1/2 inch apart.

Flower 4

When you reach the end, pull the thread through creating a tight ruffly circle.

Flower 5

After you have pulled the fabric tight, stitch the two ends together.

Flower 6

Now pull the four layers apart and you end up with an adorable fabric flower.

Flower 9

Optional additions/alterations:

Sew a button to the center of the flower

Sew or hot glue the flower onto a hair scrunchie, hair clip or dress

Play around with the width and/or length of the fabric pieces in the first step to create smaller or larger flowers.

(Maybe I’ll sew one of these onto one of my boys’ shirts and see if they notice. 😉 )

Fabric Flower Tutorial

Flower 9

Before I start the tutorial, let me share a few interesting things I’ve learned this week.

1. The group of women from Ohio who had been planning to work with in Haiti are no longer able to make the trip. Soooo, instead of just tagging along on someone else’s trip, I will be coming up with my own sewing lesson plans. (Mom, I know you are giggling as you read that – at least on the inside.)

2. I am more crafty than I thought. Case in point – I made this super-cute fabric flower hair scrunchie on my FIRST try with the help of this blog.

3. My third son may be a wild and crazy boy who can slip the word poop into any conversation, but he has a sweet sweet heart inside that skinny little body. You can see what he made for me while I worked on my flower at my other blog here.

I will be coming up with four or five simple lesson plans for things to teach the students to make (with mom’s help :)). One of those will be the simple shorts tutorial that I posted a couple weeks back.  Another is this easy fabric flower that I made and sewed onto a hair scrunchie.

If I can make one, you can too. If you’ve got some fabric scraps and are looking for a project, go ahead and give it a try. And feel free to tell me if I need to make anything clearer in my instructions. I want to be able to leave completely understandable instruction sheets in Haiti.

I found a great website that translates phrases into Haitian Creole so I can type in

Fabric Flower Instructions and it will give me this Twal flè sa pou nou fè. How awesome is that?!?

HERE WE GO….Supplies

  • fabric (You don’t need much. This is a perfect use of scraps.)
  • Cutting board, rotary cutter (you can just use a scissors instead) and a measuring tool of some sort (I used a 4-inch square)
  • needle and thread
  • Hair scrunchie

Flower 1

Cut 8 4-inch squares and 2 3-inch squares

Flower 2

Cut a flower edge around each square. This doesn’t have to be perfect. Just free-hand it. Also cut a 1 1/2 inch square to use as your base.

Flower 3

Fold one of the large squares in half and then fold in half again like Lewis is showing here.

Flower 4

Sew the folded piece onto the base and repeat with the remaining seven large pieces.

Flower 5

You will end up with 2 layers of folded fabric pieces on your base.

Flower 6

Take the two small pieces one on top of the other, and bunch together as shown. Sew a couple stitches at the base of this piece to hold it together. Then,  sew it onto the base of the flower at the center where the points of all of your other pieces meet.

Flower 7

Unfold each little section to poof up your flower.


Sew it onto your hair scrunchie and you are done!

If you know me, you can appreciate how out of place this hair bow looks on my head 😉

Flower 10

Your Dresses in Their Hands

October 2012 distribution 3 photoshop

These pictures make me happy 🙂

Because so many people donated in so many ways, these kids in a village in Haiti (along with some children who live in a tent city) received new clothes in October.

Soon I will have the opportunity to be the hands delivering the dresses, and let me tell you, I can’t even think about it without getting a lump in my throat.

Enjoy the photos. Maybe you can even find a dress you made.

October 2012 Distribution 2 photoshop

October 2012 distribution 4 photoshop

October 2012 distribution 1