How to sew a mesh bag (perfect for your dance shoes!)

My older daughter started dancing on pointe shoes this year.  We made a special appointment to get fitted. 

While checking out the salesperson suggested a mesh bag to hold her pointe shoes.  The mesh allows the shoes to air out, keeps the shoes together, & protects them from getting dinged up.  And it was a pretty lavender color.  So we bought a bag.

I’m glad we did but there are few improvements I’d love to have seen.  First, it was made with polyester mesh (aka plastic-based fabric).  Not ideal.  Second, it closed with a plastic cord stopper (aka more plastic).  And finally it was a bit overpriced (probably because of where we bought it).

So I decided to figure out a zero-waste, more affordable version of this bag.

The hardest part of this project is finding the right fabric.  But I finally found sustainable, all natural hemp fiber mesh fabric.  I’ll put links below for all the supplies. 

The rest of the project is super easy.  Here’s what you need to make your own zero waste dance shoe bag.

BY THE WAY – this is a great bag for ANY pair of shoes!  And if your shoes are a bit larger, you can increase the sizes of the panels (see below).


Supplies for your mesh shoe bag

(perfect bag for dance shoes or gym shoes):

 -hemp mesh – 1/2 yard is plenty

-about 2 yards of organic cotton cord (or hemp cord or twine or ribbon or shoelaces – whatever you have on hand!)

-fabric scraps for pocket

(see links below for all these goodies)

Step-by-step instructions for a DIY dance shoes bag

Step 1: cut fabric to size 

You need 2 panels that are each 13”w x 15”l.  

You’ll also need fabric for the pocket.  I used a scrap that was 5”w x 14”l.  I folded it in half to create a pocket that was about 5”w x 7”l.  

Make your pocket in any size that’ll fit on the bag panel.  Use this as a chance to put those scraps to work!

Step 2: attach pocket to 1 panel of the bag

  • First, create your pocket by sewing the right sides of the fabric together, but leave an opening on either the bottom or side so you can turn your pocket right side out.  Make sure to backstitch at the start & stop of your seam.
  • Next, turn the pocket right side out & press the seam.  Optional: Top stitch the top edge of your pocket if you want a little more polished look.
  • Decide where you want to place your pocket & center it on your bag & pin it in place. 
  • Sew the pocket in place along 3 sides.  Make sure to reinforce the top edges on your pocket – they take a lot of wear & tear!

Step 3: finish the raw edges on part of your bag. 

Before joining the panels, take a minute to finish the raw edges where the drawstrings will go (the casings).  

  • Zig zag stitch or serge from 2” below the top edge of each bag panel, across the top edge of the bag, and then 2” below the top edge on the other side.  This 2” area will become the drawstring casing in the next steps.

I kept my zig zag stitch pretty short (about 1.2 mm) and not too wide (3.6 mm) in order to capture the raw edges as tightly as possible.

You can ABSOLUTELY use a serger for this part as well if you have one.

Step 4: sew the panels of the bag together.

  • Place the panels with the right sides together & pin them in place.  If you want to add a custom tag, get that in place here. 
  • Starting 2” below the top edge (where you finished your zig zag stitching in step 3), sew around 3 sides with a ½” seam allowance using a straight stitch.  Make sure to backstitch at the beginning & end. 
  • Stop your seam about 2” below the other top edge.  Remember – those top 2″ of fabric will get folded over & become your drawstring casing, so you don’t want to sew them into your side seams.
  • Next, finish the raw edge alongside the seam you just completed using a zig zag stitch or your serger.  I used the same settings described above.

Step 5: Sew drawstring casings & insert cording 

  • Fold the top loose edges over about 1” & stitch in place.  Try to sew about ⅛” or ¼” above your zig zag stitches & make sure to capture the fabric in your seams.  
  • Next cut your cording into 2 pieces, about 1 yard each.  Threaded one piece through both of the casings & tie it in a knot on one side.  Then slide the second piece of cording, starting at the opening opposite of the knot, and tie the ends together at the other end. You want 1 knot on each side of the bag so you can pull the drawstrings at the same time in the opposite directions.
  • Trim threads & you’re done!

Where to get hemp mesh fabric & other supplies:

I get my fabric here.

And if you love my ironing mat, check the offerings out on Etsy.

Or shop for it on Amazon if that’s your thing.

**These are affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase I’ll receive a small commission.  Thank you for supporting my small business!**

I’d love to see your finished bags!  Tag me on Instagram @no_trace_shop.

Or share your finished bag in our zero waste sewing & crafting Facebook group here!

Do you have any other dance-themed projects I should make?  Leave a comment below!


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