Dritz_2016_Leaderboard_Visit Dritz

Facebook Twitter Sew4Home RSS Feed Follow Me on Pinterest Instagram

Sew4Home

Mesh Laundry Bags with Drawstring Tops: Freshen Up for 2015

Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version

Mesh laundry bags to collect your washables are certainly readily available, and they can be pretty inexpensive to purchase. However, they usually aren't as well-made as you'd like, or you need a special teeny-tiny size for baby socks, or you just want a fun color to tempt an otherwise messy teen to pick up his underwear. Time to bust out a few of your own. They're super easy; we made our two samples in nothing flat. It's a great way to Freshen Up for 2015.

We have a great resource in our local area called The Rain Shed, dedicated to providing an amazing selection of outdoor fabric and hardware. We've turned to them many times in the past for various notions and/or specialty fabric, and for this project, we got all the elements for both bags there: the mesh itself in two different weights, the vibrant colors of paracord, plus toggles and end clips. The Rain Shed carries a number of colors of mesh, and they told us it's traditionally available from them, as well as other retailers, in the "16 collegiate colors," which means you can make one in school colors to send back to a certain someone's college dorm room in hopes of collecting a semester's worth of dirty laundry!

As you'll see in the steps below, it's important to finish the seams. Even though the mesh we chose is quite soft, you want as smooth a bag as possible in order to protect delicate fabrics from catching on the edges of the mesh. Use the techique we show below or check out our four-part series on Machine Sewn Seam Finishes:

Part 1: Most Popular, Part 2: French Seams, Part 3: Mock French & French Wrapped, Part 4: Hong Kong and Bound

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

NOTE: The amounts specified are plenty for the small bag but just enough for the large bag. If you're worried about your cutting skills, get a little bit extra. You'll have plenty of width, but might want a bit more depth. 

Large Bag (18" wide x 24" high)

  • ½ yard of 60" wide 100% nylon mesh for the upper bag panels; we used soft Nylon Mesh from The Rain Shed.com in White (#3393) - it is a slightly smaller weave than the Macro Mesh below
  • ¼ yard of 60" wide 100% nylon mesh for the lower bag panels; we used soft Macro Mesh from The Rain Shed.com in Bright Orange (#2940)
  • 1½ yards of 5/32" polyester cording; we used Commercial Paracord from The Rain Shed.com in Orange/White (#4367)
  • ONE small toggle; we used the ⅞" Short Ellipse Toggle from The Rain Shed.com in White
  • TWO zip cords to finish ends of cording - also known by its scientific name: "zipper pull thingy"; we used zip cords from The Rain Shed.com in black

Small Bag (12" wide x 18" high)

  • ½ yard of 60" wide 100% nylon mesh for the upper bag panels; we used soft Nylon Mesh from The Rain Shed.com in White (#3393) - it is a slightly smaller weave than the Macro Mesh below
  • ¼ yard of 60" wide 100% nylon mesh for the lower bag panels; we used soft Macro Mesh from The Rain Shed.com in Red (#2847)
  • 1¼ yards of 5/32" polyester cording; we used Commercial Paracord from The Rain Shed.com in Gold/Red/Green (#4366)
  • ONE small toggle; we used the ⅞" Short Ellipse Toggle from The Rain Shed.com in Yellow Transparent
  • TWO zip cords to finish ends of cording; we used zip cords from The Rain Shed.com in black

Both bags:

  • Scrap of non-fusible interfacing or a scrap of stiff fabric you have on hand - it should match the top of the bag, so we used white
  • All purpose thread to match fabric (both the white and the colored mesh)
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper
  • Straight pins
  • Large safety pin

Getting Started

Large Bag:

  1. From the top mesh (white in our sample), cut TWO 18½" wide x 17½" high rectangles.
  2. From the bottom mesh (orange in our sample), cut TWO 18½" wide x 8½" high rectangles.
  3. Cut the cording into ONE 50" length.
  4. From the interfacing (or similar), cut ONE 1" x ¾" rectangle.

Small Bag:

  1. From the top mesh (white in our sample), cut TWO 12½" wide x 13½" high rectangles.
  2. From the bottom mesh (orange in our sample), cut TWO 12½" wide x 6½" high rectangles.
  3. Cut the cording into ONE 42" length.
  4. From the interfacing (or similar), cut ONE 1" x ¾" rectangle.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

NOTE: The two bags are constructed in exactly the same manner. We used the larger bag for our in-progress photography sample.

Body of the bag

  1. Thread the machine with thread to match the colored mesh in the top and bobbin. 
  2. Pin one top mesh panel to one bottom mesh panel along one 18½" edge.
  3. Using a ¼" seam allowance, stitch the two panels together. 
  4. Finger press the seam towards the bottom panel. 
  5. Topstitch along the seam within the bottom panel (the orange panel in our sample). This will secure the seam in position, facing down.
  6. Repeat with the remaining top and bottom panels.
  7. Place the front and back right sides together, carefully matching the horizontal seam lines. Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom. 
  8. Using a ¼" seam allowance, stitch along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners.

    NOTE: We took the time to change our thread from white to orange. To do this, we stitched both sides down to the horizontal seams with white thread. We then re-threaded to orange in the top and bobbin and finished the seam along the lower sides and across the bottom. 
  9. Turn the bag right side out. 
  10. Using a ¼" seam allowance, topstitch along both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners. Again, we took the time to change thread colors from the white at the top to the orange at the bottom. This finishes the seam allowance all around.

    NOTE: This is a variation on a traditional French Seam finish. It works well here because the mesh is very thin and it's best to have as few seams on the inside of the bag as possible in order to minimize anything that could snag delicate items being laundered in the bag. To learn how to make more traditional French Seams, read our tutorial on the French Seam Finish and the Mock French Seam Finish. 

Drawcord channel

  1. Along the top raw edge, find and mark the center of the front of the bag. Measure ½" to the left of center and ½" to the right of center. Place pins at each point. 
  2. Measure 1" down from the top raw edge and place another pin horizontally. Find the small interfacing rectangle (or small stiff fabric rectangle). Its top horizontal edge should be aligned with the horizontal pin in between the two vertical pins. The little interfacing piece is on the wrong side of the bag's front panel. 
  3. Following the instructions for your machine, center a ½" horizontal buttonhole on the interfacing rectangle. You are stitching on the front of the panel and the interfacing is acting as a stabilizer underneath. 
  4. Here's what it looks like when done. Don't cut it open yet. 
  5. Fold down the top raw edge of the bag ½" all the way around. Lightly pin in place.
  6. Fold an additional ½" all the way around. Pin more securely. The buttonhole should be centered within this folded channel and facing up. 
  7. Edgestitch along the inner fold all the way around, securing the fold and creating a drawcord channel. 
  8. Carefully cut open the buttonhole. Don't cut into the back of the channel.
  9. Attach the safety pin to one end of the cording. Insert through the buttonhole opening and feed the cording through the channel all the way around, coming back out through the buttonhole.
  10. Thread the ends of the cording through the toggle. 
  11. Clamp a zip cord to both tails of the cording to encase the raw ends.


    NOTE: Put one zip cord on each end as we did or just use one as shown below. The zip cords are large enough to fit two cords. 

Contributors

Project Concept: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Debbie Guild

Section: 

Comments (2)

Neat & Tidy said:
Neat & Tidy's picture

These are beautiful!  The finish is so prefessional.  If you were able to mass produce these we would happily have them in our shop!

petson said:
petson's picture

Thanks for the post and also for the lovely pictures which you have uploaded, which is really looking awesome and it's different from others bags. 

Add new comment

*Sew4Home reserves the right to restrict comments that don’t relate to the article, contain profanity, personal attacks or promote personal or other business.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.