How to Sew a Wash Bag for Underwear and more – free sewing tutorial

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how to make a wash bag

This mesh laundry bag will help you keep your bras, underwear, and other items separate and wash them safely in your washing machine. I love using mine for swimsuits too. Just toss your delicates in the bag and then toss the bag in your washer.

This project is easy to sew, and I have lots of tips to help anyone do it!

This blog post has been converted to an optional PDF that’s optimized for printing. Find it here. The free wash bag tutorial is included in the blog post below and is free to read, print, and sew! Just hit CTRL +P on your computer to print. The Optimized for Printing PDF download for $3 is optional. Did you know you can get ALL the Optimized for Printing PDF files organized in a library to access anytime you want?

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This mesh wash bag has a zipper at the top, so it won’t get tangled in the wash like a drawstring bag. The mesh edges that aren’t enclosed in fabric are sewn with easy French seams to prevent fraying and ensure that the bag will hold up through many washings. Learn more about how to sew French seams.

I like to put just one bra or two pairs of panties in at a time to make sure that every item washes safely.

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With just one yard of mesh fabric and a quarter yard of quilting cotton, you can make 2 wash bags (fat quarter friendly).

I use wash bags like this for swimsuits, underwear, and other small items.

To make one wash bag, you will need:

  • 1/2 yard of mesh fabric (sold in many places, including Joanns and Amazon – in the store you’ll find it in the section for utility fabrics)

  • 1/8 yd cotton fabric such as quilting cotton

  • 1 zipper, 18’’ or longer (regular zippers and handbag zippers will both work great)

  • 1 piece of 1/8’’ – 1/4’’ wide ribbon, 6’’ long (optional)

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  • From the mesh fabric cut 1 rectangle 18’’ x 32’’

  • From the cotton fabric, cut 2 rectangles 4’’ x 18’’

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Make the Fabric Panels

1. Fold one long edge of each 4’’ x 18’’ rectangle over to the wrong side by 1/2’’ and press.

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2. Pin one 18’’ edge of the mesh fabric rectangle to the right side of a cotton fabric strip along the unpressed edge.

Tip: after sewing many of these bags, I have decided that it is easier to sew with the mesh on top.

Polyester mesh fabric like this is prone to stretching whether you sew with it on the top or the bottom. If you decide to sew with it on the bottom, it might work just as well. Don’t worry about the stretching, just try to sew as smoothly as possible and we’ll trim away any uneven edges later. 🙂

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3. Sew along the 18’’ edge with a 1/2’’ seam allowance.

As you can see, my mesh fabric still stretched a bit by the end of the seam, but I’m leaving that for now.

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4. Gently press the seam toward the cotton fabric.

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5. Wrap the pressed-under edge of the cotton fabric around to the other side and pin it over the seam. Both edges of the cotton fabric should line up.

6. Topstitch about 1/8’’ from the fold to secure. Press the top panel flat.

Repeat to sew the remaining cotton fabric strip to the other 18’’ edge of the mesh fabric.

Both sides of the fabric panels should look about the same, so it is up to you to decide which side you want to show on the outside of your wash bag.

Attach the Zipper

1. Center one of the fabric panels on top of one side of the zipper and pin. The fabric panel should overlap the zipper tape by about 1/4’’.

Tip: Most zippers have a raised thread running down each zipper tape that can be used as a guide line. I like to place the folded edge of my fabric panel right on top of the guideline and then pin it in place.

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2. Topstitch about 1/8’’ from the folded edge of the fabric. If you are using a regular sized zipper like I did, switch to a zipper foot on your sewing machine. If you are using wider (YKK size 4.5) handbag zippers, you may not need to use a zipper foot.

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3. Pin the other fabric panel to the remaining zipper tape (making a loop of mesh) and stitch in place the same way.

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4. Lay the bag flat (right side out) and trim away any extra zipper tape and stretched out mesh along the sides.

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Sew the Sides of the Bag with a French Seam

1. With the bag still right side out, pin the top side edges together on the fabric panels. You can pin along the side mesh edges too, if you like, but I did not.

Stitch the side edges with a 1/4’’ seam allowance. You can sew over the nylon zipper teeth, but be very careful not to sew on a metal zipper stopper (they are at both ends unless you cut them off when trimming previously). Metal zipper stoppers have broke many needles for me!

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2. Turn the bag wrong side out and use your fingers to push out the seam from the inside.

At the top corners, flatten the side seam and tuck the ends of the zipper down inside.

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3. Finish the French seams by sewing along the side edges with a 1/2’’ seam allowance. This will enclose the raw edges of the fabric and mesh inside the seams. They will be pretty and long lasting!

Turn the bag right side out.

To make an optional ribbon embellishment for the zipper pull:

  • Cut the ends of your 6’’ length of ribbon to make sharp points.

  • Push both points through the hole on the zipper pull at the same time.

  • Push the ribbon ends through the loop and pull tight.

Trim the ribbon ends again if they became frayed when inserting them through the zipper pull.

Enjoy your pretty new wash bag!

As always, I love to see the things you make with my free patterns and tutorials. Please post a picture to Instagram and tag me @sewcanshe or #sewcanshe so I can take a look!



Disclosure: some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting SewCanShe when you shop! All of the opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. 🙂