Drawstring Wet Bag

Finished item! So pretty and practical!

I cloth diaper Kira, so wet bags are a necessity.  I recently made a lined drawstring bag big enough to fit in an 8-gallon flip-top garbage can.  It holds 2-3 days worth of diapers, and is very easy to use on a change-by-change basis.  No more fumbling with the zipper of the old bag while holding a soggy (or worse) diaper.  Below I will attempt to detail the process as best I can.  Please keep in mind that the biggest challenge with drawstring items is reinforcement, and the challenge with lined items is getting the pieces into one another the right way with no raw edges showing.  We will have both challenges in this project.

Time:  2-4 hours


  • Machine washable fabric in a nice print- enough to make a bag the size you want. This will be the outside, so it can be very decorative.
  • PUL (polyurethane laminated fabric, sold at certain craft stores- Hobby Lobby for example) same amount as the other fabric, and ideally, in a coordinating color.
  • Thread
  • Machine washable cord in a length twice the circumference of the desired bag, plus 6 inches, and cut into two equal pieces.

    Fabrics. The light colored side of the PUL is the only side that will show on the finished bag.

For this tutorial I will refer to the outer fabric as “cotton” and the inner as “PUL”.  Also, when looking at pictures, the light side of the PUL is the slippery, or waterproof, side.

First, cut out your fabrics the same size.  Cut as squarely as you can, and I recommend using the fold of the fabric (as it was on the bolt) for the bottom of the bag- it saves you from having to cut and sew an edge, and there’s no way it will leak that way.  For this tutorial I used the folded edge as the bottom, so there are no instructions for that edge if you do decide to cut it.

Pin the cotton to itself, with right sides together, and sew it with a 3/8″ seam allowance, starting 2″ from the top edge on each side.

Pinned and stitched cotton, right sides together.

Pin the PUL to itself with the slippery sides together, keeping the pins only in the seam allowance.

Skinny pinning

Sew down both sides with a 3/8″ seam allowance, sewing it all the way to the top edge but leaving a 5″ gap unsewn somewhere in the middle of one side.  (I don’t have a picture of that, because I forgot to leave my gap and had to rip out 5″ worth of stitches later.)

Sewn PUL

You should now have 2 bags, one of PUL, one of cotton.

Open the cotton seam, finger-press it, and top stitch it down all the way to the bottom, so it won’t fray in the many washings it will have to endure.

Finger pressing is using your fingers instead of an iron. You may use an iron if you like…I dislike ironing.

Starting at the top open edge…

And going all the way down.

At the bottom corner, where it is bulky and tight, stitch across the open seam and back up to the top again.

Bulky area at the bottom corner. I stitch across the open seam and then back up to the top. No cutting or loose threads to unravel.

At the top, reinforce the open “crack” by stitching it down a couple more times, and crossing the bottom of the slit about 3 times.

Reinforcing the bottom of the slit so it will be nice and strong.

Repeat this on the other side seam.

Faintly the stitches are there and reinforced.

Open the PUL seam, finger-press it, and top stitch it down for about 3″, and across the bottom of the top stitching.

PUL doesn’t finger press very nicely, since it’s so stretchy.

But it’s only for 3 inches or so.

Down one side, across the bottom, and up to the top again.

The PUL doesn’t need to be top stitched all the way down.  Due to the nature of the plastic coating it doesn’t unravel.  Repeat on the other side.

Now the side seams of both bags should be reinforced.

Flip the PUL bag slippery side out,

Slippery side out.

and the cotton bag inside out.

Inside out.

Put the PUL bag inside the cotton bag, matching up seams and openings.

Put the PUL bag inside the cotton bag.

Pin around the top, starting at the side seams, and then pinning the middle top on each side.

Matching up seams to pin bags together.

Seam edges pinned first, and slit kept closed.

Keep the cotton slits closed as tightly as possible.

Middles pinned.

If the two bags are a little different in size, fudge out the difference between some of the pins to get as little puckering/gathering as possible.

Sew the top edge, starting at one of the side slits, and reinforce the side slits 3 times each.

Seam allowance and reinforcing. So tired of reinforcing…

Keep the 3/8″ seam allowance, unless you are using the selvedge edge for the top edge, then make sure to contain the selvedge in the seam allowance.

Now you should have one inside-out bag.

Find the slit you left earlier in the PUL.  Turn the bags right side out through that slit.  The bag should now be more like a long tube, with both ends closed.

Find the slit in the PUL again and pin along it, tucking the seam allowance inside as you go.

Pinned PUL opening.

Stitch it shut past the opening, with a very narrow seam allowance.

Very narrow.

Tuck the PUL side of the tube into the cotton side.

Tucked and looking more like a real wet bag.

Working along the top edge, manipulate the seam “open” as much as you can, and pin it.

This is what I mean by “open”. The seam allowance inside should have no extra fabric. The stitching inside it should be seen, if possible, due to the stretching. The PUL makes it difficult though.

Keeping the pins in the seam allowance is not critical on the top edge.  Top stitch it down with a 1/4″ seam allowance, reinforcing the side slits several times each.

Top stitching all around the top looks awfully purdy…

Now, starting at the bottom of a slit, sew (matching the bottom reinforcing stitches) a casing for your cord.  I kept an even distance by positioning my bag in the sewing machine and then placing a magnet to use as a guide.

In this pic of me feeding the cord through with a safety pin, note that the casing stitches go right over the reinforcement stitches, and continue all around the bag.

Thread the cord through the casing, knot it, and do this again.  The double cording will enable you to draw the bag closed tightly by pulling in opposite directions.

Bag is finished!

Finished item! So pretty and practical!

As an aside, may I mention that while making this bag I spent rather a lot of time playing with the baby, keeping her away from the treadle on my sewing machine, changing her diaper, feeding her, putting her to bed, listening with one ear for her to wake up, washing laundry, putting a frozen dinner in the oven and setting said oven’s auto-start, and rushing the end of the project to get the aforementioned baby out of bed?  Pictures show nothing of what is actually going on around here…







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