Sunday, August 26, 2012

From Cargo Shorts to Drawstring Pocket Bag

Pick a Pocket or Two!

This little bag is one I made up tonight. I wasn't sure I should be sewing. I had a migraine all day and around noon time decided to take pain medication. I did have to use a seam ripper more than once to undo some mistake I never would have made in my "right" mind, but I was able to come up with a design that is easy and cute. I am happy with it!

I began with a pair of cargo shorts:

Legs are a decent length

Great pockets on the back--I can use them.....

I will use the fat quarter on the right for lining, and drawstrings.

I can make two bags from one pair of shorts. Cut off each pant leg straight across. Cut out each back pocket, adding about 1/2" border all around the pocket. The seam at the top will be used for the drawstring canal and the side seams of the bag are already sewn because I cut the legs off leaving the original side seams in tact.

Close up of pocket

Curve edges on cut pant leg similar to curve on pocket. Use the first bag shape as a pattern for the second bag and for lining pieces.

Cut a curved pocket from leftover shorts fabric by using the pocket already cut as a pattern. This will be used for an inside pocket. Iron.

Fold down (to wrong side) 1/4" and iron. Fold an additional 1/4" down and iron.
Pin in place and top stitch. This will be the finished edge of the pocket.

At each seam at the top of the bag, use a seam ripper to gently open up the seam on the outside. The drawstrings will enter and exit from each side.

Inside pocket--fold down 1/4" and then an additional 1/4" inch  to the wrong side and stitch on the top right side.

Place the pocket about an inch from the bottom of the bag and pin in place. Then stitch around the sides and bottom very close to the edge.

Then zig-zag over the stitching to give it a slight ragged look. The stitching will prevent it from fraying.

Fold over top of each lining piece 1/4 ", repeat and iron. Then stitch in place on front and back pieces of lining. Pin lining pieces right sides together and stitch around sides and bottom. Turn right side out.

Stitch pocket to front of bag using regular straight stitch as we did with the lining. Then zig-zag around the pocket on the previous stitching line.Turn the bag wrong side out and stitch the bottom of the bag closed. This is where we get to skip sewing the side seams because it was already done for us!

I forgot to take photos of the straps as I cut them from the fabric. I cut 4  1 1/2 " strips from the fat quarter. It was already folded in half when I cut the two lining pieces from the fat quarter. The strips are about 21" long. I joined two pieces lengthwise to make one strap measuring 42" long. Repeat for other drawstring.

Then fold each side to the middle of the strap in as shown above. Press.

Fold each drawstring in half as shown above. Topstitch these straps very close to the edge. The right sides should be showing on both sides if they are folded correctly.

Insert the lining inside the bag and match wrong sides together. Note placement of lining is just below the top (which was originally the hemline on the shorts) This will allow the drawstrings to go through a less bulky canal.The lining edge is sewn very close to the original hemline as shown above. Stitch the lining in place.

At this point, the drawstrings can be added and the bag is nearly done. I use a large paper clip to pull the drawstrings through, Enter one side and pull strap through the same opening. Repeat for second drawstring. Each drawstring enters and exits through its own seam opening. Once the drawstrings are in properly, you may tie a knot in them to keep them from being pulled through accidently. A wooden bead can also be attached to each drawstring. Gently pull each drawstring. The bag should gather to close.

Bag is completed! Very easy....I will try to work on the second bag tomorrow and update this post once I am finished. I already have ideas to make them a bit more snazzy and colorful! As a prototype, I am happy with the way it came out. It is fun to recycle clothing into useful items, I like the challenge of finding ways to take advantage of the garment's original stitching and incorporate original pockets and buttons, etc. This was a fun project.


Every once in a while I surprise even myself....while trimming threads off the inside of this bag I realized that it is reversible. Many of the bags that I make are, but it wasn't my intention--it just happened. I turned it wrong side out and it was pretty cute!

Picking out fabric in a few minutes to complete bag #2 from the remaining pant leg.


  1. What a cute way to repurpose a pair of shorts! Just too cute!

  2. Thanks so much! Now on to that pin cushion I need so desperately! Linda :)