Exercise Mat Bag Tutorial

Have you managed to get back into an exercising routine for 2016? Good for you!  How about making yourself a drawstring bag for your exercise mat to take to and from classes?  This tutorial will teach you how to make a neat drawstring closure so you could adapt this to any size and type of drawstring bag!

You will need:

  • A metre of soft furnishing weight fabric
  • Thread
  • A metre of cord for drawstring
  • A spring toggle
  • Sewing Machine, Scissors & pins


1. Cut your fabric pieces: main bag - 18 (w) x 29 (h) inches; handle - 32 x 6 inches; and bottom - 6½ circle.

2. Fold the handle in half, press.  Open back up and fold the edges into the middle crease, press.  Then fold the whole thing in half again along the original crease.  Top stitch along the two long edges about an ⅛ inch in from the edge. Zig zag stitch over the two short ends to prevent fraying. Set aside for later.

3. Take the large piece and hem the two long edges with a single fold of a ¼ inch.  You might choose to do a double fold here, up to you.

4. To form a casing along the top edge for the drawstring, fold the top edge over ½ inch and press, then fold over an inch and press again so that the raw edge of the fabric will be encased inside the folds.  Stitch together an ⅛ inch in from each folded edge.

5. To form the bag, fold right sides together, pin in place along the long edge.  Insert one end of the handle an inch below the casing and the other end about 1½ inches up from the bottom edge.  Ensure the loop of the handle is inside at this stage against the right side of the fabric.  Stitch in place using a ½ inch seam allowance, reverse stitch over each of the handle ends.

6.  Now to stitch the bottom circle in place.  Fold the circle into quarters and make notches at each quarter.  Make corresponding notches on the bottom edge of the bag by folding it in half.  When pinning the circle on, match the notches first. Pin all the way around matching up the edges.  Stitch in place using a ½ inch seam allowance. You may find it helpful to either pinking sheer the edge of the circle or zig zag stitch over the raw edges to help prevent fraying.

7. Turn the bag out the right way.  Using a safety pin, thread cord through the casing.  Then thread both ends through the spring toggle, I found it useful to tape them together when doing this..  Tie ends together and dab with glue to stop fraying.

Hey Presto all done, now roll up your mat and off to aerobics or yoga you go!  

Making a drawstring bag is really easy.  I like to hem the side edges first so the raw edges don't get pulled out as you use the drawstring.  Just makes it a bit neater that way.  Once you have mastered this technique you can adapt this to make different shapes and sizes of drawstring bag.  Makes perfect kit bags, swim bags or ballet bags!

Happy stitching.  If you do make a bag using this tutorial I would love to see a picture of it.  Email it to me or post it on my Facebook page.  If you are local and want to see the bag itself, it will be on display in Sew Busy, Branksomewood Road, Fleet, Hampshire for a short while.