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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s