Sew up adorable and useful drawstring laundry bags that are shaped like fish! This easy sewing tutorial includes free pattern templates. Get started now with just a yard of fabric. I have used this pattern to make a backpack too!
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In addition you can see me make it this video.
I listened to my readers who wanted this fish shaped drawstring bag to have 2 pattern pieces for lots of opportunities for creativity. On this particular fish, I used Hex Mesh fabric from Canvas Etc on the bottom portion. I originally got this mesh fabric to sew new camper curtains, but when it arrived I was disappointed by how stiff it is. I’m not sure if I’ll still use it for the curtains, but It makes a great drawstring bag!
On the all-fabric bags I added just a touch of embellishment. You could topstitch some lines, but I decided to sew simple narrow pintucks with contrasting thread instead. They add a little bit of texture – I love it.
This sewing tutorial includes instructions for making 3/8” wide fabric ties, but feel free to use 1/4”-1/2” ribbon or twill tape instead if you like. I really hope to see lots of different fishy laundry bags on Instagram – be sure to tag me @sewcanshe or #sewcanshe.
So let’s get started!
Fish Laundry Bags sewing pattern
Approximate dimensions: 26” x 18”. All seam allowances are 1/2”.
You will need:
1/2 yard (or 2 fat quarters) of fabric for the top of the fish
1/2 yard (or 2 fat quarters) of fabric for the bottom of the fish
1 yard of fabric for the whole fish body if you don’t want a seam (like my blue fish bag)
less than 1/4 yd fabric or 2 yards of ribbon/twill tape for the ties
felt scraps for the eyes
a bodkin or large safety pin for threading the drawstring
Print up the pattern pieces at 100%. You’ll have to tape the pieces together as shown above.
If you want to cut the fish out in one piece (see my blue fish laundry bag), overlap the pieces by 1” and tape them together.
1. Cut 2 from each pattern piece on the fold.
2. Cut 2 strips 2 1/2” x 17” for the drawstring casings or fish ‘lips.’ I used the same fabric as the fish head, but you could use coordinating fabric if you want to.
3. Cut 2 strips 1 1/2” x 40-42” (fabric width) for the drawstrings.
Make the Drawstring Casing (a.k.a. the ‘fish lips’):
1. Fold each end of the 2 1/2” x 17” casing strips to the wrong side by 1/4” twice, and press. Stitch close to the fold to make 1/4” hems on all 4 short ends.
2. Fold these strips in half lengthwise, wrong sides together and press.
3. Center a folded strip along the slightly narrower mouth side of a fish head piece with the raw edges aligned and pin.
4. Stitch with a 1/2” seam allowance. Finish the seam with a zig-zag stitch or a serger, if desired. You could also trim the seam with pinking shears to finish it.
5. Press the seam allowance toward the fish head.
6. Topstitch along the fish body 1/4” from the seam.
Note: I used heavy duty contrasting thread for all of my topstitching and pintucks – just to add some interest.
Repeat all of these steps to sew a casing to the other fish head piece.
Sew the Fish Body:
1. Pin each fish head piece to a fish body piece, right sides together. Stitch with a 1/2” seam allowance. Finish the seam as desired.
2. Press the seam allowance toward the head and topstitch.
3. Tail embellishment (if desired).
Topstitching lines are marked on the pattern piece. You may use them or sew narrow pintucks like I did.
To sew pintucks, fold a fish body in half wrong sides together. Place a pin 7” from the end of the tail to mark the top end of the center pintuck.
Sew from the tail to the pin about 1/8” from the edge. backstitch neatly.
Fold and pin 2 more pintucks 3” above and below the first. The second and third pintucks should be only 6” long.
Repeat this embellishment (or topstitching) on the other side of the fish, if desired.
4. Place the two fish pieces right sides together and pin all the way around. Stitch.
5. Cut clips and notches all the way around the seam, or trim 1/4” away with pinking shears. I used pinking shears because this is a way to finish the seam too. Clip to the stitching at the center of the tail.
6. Turn the fish right side out and press.
Make the Drawstrings:
1. Fold the drawstring strips in half and press. Fold and press the long edges to the center. Fold in half again to make a 3/8” wide strip.
Note: you could fold and press the short ends to the inside too. Since I’ll be tying my ends in knots, I didn’t fuss with that.
2. Topstitch along each strip close to the folded edges.
3. To insert the first drawstring, attach a bodkin or large safety pin to one end. Push it through both casings and tie the ends together.
4. Repeat the same process from the other side of the bag for the second drawstring.
5. Cut out or trace the eye circles from the pattern piece to use as templates for felt eye pieces. Sew in place.
Who will you make these for??? Tell me in the comments!
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