Cold Season Essentials College Care Package with Drawstring Bag Tutorial

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filled drawstring blue, grey and orange fabric bag  with white tag that says "be well we love you" next to cold medicine on white table

How is it possible that my “baby” has been gone to college for almost two months? How is it possible that it’s her second year at college, yet I still count the days she’s gone? I still have two “babies” at home to keep me busy and distracted, but it doesn’t really work like that does it? Then just last week my “baby” texted me that she was miserably sick with a fever, cold and swollen glands. Since I couldn’t jump on  plane to go take care of her myself, I knew it was time to send her a cold season essentials college care package. It’s my way of taking care of my “baby” even though I can’t be there.

Now that my “baby” is an adult, the biggest part of taking care of my “baby” is encouraging her to take care of herself. I’ve thought long and hard about a sneaky mom way to encourage her to take care of herself while she’s so busy away at college. I know that my “baby” is always busy with classes, studying and school activities. If she has a bag with her cold season essentials that she can keep in her backpack, it will be easier for her to take good care of herself. Making a cute drawstring bag that she can use will encourage her to keep it with her – to paraphrase an 80’s movie, “Make it cute or cool and they will carry it with them.”

stacks of colorful fabrics and roll of blue ribbon on white table

Choose a  fabric that fits with your college student’s interests or taste. The possibilities are endless and creatively exciting. My trick to make this an easy sewing project is to use fat quarter fabric. The fat quarter is exactly the right size to make this simple drawstring bag. You can find them for less than $1 at a craft store or department store.  You’ll need 2 coordinating fat quarter fabrics and a spool of ribbon or cording. The fabric plus ribbon cost me less than $3.

I already had the orange fabric, so I simply cut it to the same size as my blue fat quarter fabric. I sewed both along two sides, using a 1/4 inch seam,  so that it made a bag approximately 10 3/4 inches wide and 17 3/4 inches tall.

2 images of sewing seams of blue, grey and orange fabric bag
fabric gift bag with pins holding the orange interior to the blue and grey exterior fabric

To make a bottom that will allow the bag to stand up, line the side seam up with bottom seam and measure 2″ down from corner.  Mark and stitch along line.  Crease the middle of fabric on other side of the bag and line that crease up with the bottom seam on the other side.
Turn the fabric that will be the outside of your bag right-side-out. Insert the lining (so that the wrong-sides of the fabric are together) into the outside bag. Fold about 1/2 inch of the top of the bag and lining down. Pin together. Sew a 1/4 inch seam around the top of the bag. 

Fold the top of the bag over about 3 inches to create a band of the coordinating lining fabric. Sew a seam around the folded band about 1 1/2 inches down from the top of the fold. 

To insert the drawstring, open the side seam large enough to accommodate the ribbon or cording you are using for your drawstring.

Sew a 1/2 inch wide seam on either side of the opening you just created to keep the seam from unraveling.  

close up of safety pin attached to blue ribbon inserted into slot in orange fabric
close up of threading blue ribbon into drawstring blue, grey and orange fabric bag

Use a a safety pin to thread the drawstring through the channel.I was so excited to sew my drawstring bag that I didn’t stop to change the thread in my sewing machine. I wasn’t happy with the white thread showing, so I added ribbon to hide the white thread – to paraphrase another 80’s movie “I meant to do that.” Although, I didn’t originally intend on having the ribbon on the orange band, I’m happy with the way it turned out.

filled drawstring blue, grey and orange fabric bag with a blue and an orange package of tissues on white table

In about 20 minutes and for about $3, you can create a one-of-a-king drawstring bag for your favorite college student.

blue, grey and orange fabric gift bag with white tag "be well we love you" and with containers of medicine at top of bag

The drawstring bag is large enough to carry the cold season essentials that my baby needs while at college and it’s pretty enough that she’ll be happy to carry it in her backpack (and have with her anytime she needs those essentials).

Cold Season College Care Package

It’s tough to be a mama with a sick “baby” away at college and not be able to take care of her. I may not be able to be there, but I can send her everything she’ll need to take care of herself during cold season. I found that the items I put in her cold season essentials kit fell into four categories:

Prevention “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is a mom-ism that I live by. I made sure that I included items that would help prevent my “baby” from getting sick.

Antibacterial wipes – Of course, I sent her to college with several containers, but I sent a smaller package that she can keep in her backpack with her. 

Vitamins – I’m not there to make sure my “baby” is eating a balanced diet and getting the nutrition her body needs during cold season, so I sent her Centrum MultiGummy vitamins which provide 100% daily value or more of Vitamins D, B12, and E. It’s gluten-free and contains no wheat,milk, soy, egg, peanut, tree nuts, fish or shellfish. It is a multi-benefit gummy multivitamin which supports energy, immunity, and metabolism. During cold season, I also want to make sure my “baby” is getting plenty of Vitamin C during cold season so I included Emergen-C, with over 20 varieties of vitamin supplement drink mixes, Emergen-C offers the formula, flavor, fix, and FUN you’re looking for!

Care –  I’m a realistic mama and realize that no matter how much prevention she practices, she will catch a cold, so I made sure to include items she’ll need when she’s ill.

Thermometer – I sent a thermometer because at my “baby’s” college before you can even get an appointment at the clinic, they want to know your temperature.

Pain and Fever – My “baby” has a tough time swallowing pills, so I sent Advil Liqui-Gels, use as directed, to make it a bit easier for her.

Cough and Congestion – I also sent cough drops and menthol ointment because that’s what my “baby” prefers to use to soothe those sypmptoms.

Mom Stuff –When you’re ill, you just need your mama to take care of you. Of course, I included some of those mom stuff items. I sent items that can all fit in her backpack.

Tissues – I sent a couple of tissue packs (look how cute is it that they coordinate with the drawstring bag?!).

Lip Balm –  When you have a cold, it’s inevitable that you end up with chapped lips, so I included ChapStick Total Hydration lip balm, which is 100% natural and instantly smooths and moisturizes. 

Moisturizer – I added small tube of lotion (for a chapped nose).

Snack –  I also included some protein bars in case she’s not eating well because she’s busy and doesn’t feel well. 

college of 4 images - overhead views of boxes of medicine, package of wipes, thermometer, packages of tissues and protein bars, last image is blue, grey and orange fabric bag next to ring pops candy

Fun Stuff –  Because she will always be my “baby,” I have to include something fun in the college care packages that I send. I added the drawstring bag I made for her and some nostalgic ring pop candies.

Make aCold Season Essentials College Care Package with Drawstring Bag Tutorial to show your student you're thinking of them. #BeHealthyforEveryPartyofLLife [ad]

I found everything I needed to make the drawstring bag and the cold season essentials to put in the care package at Walmart. The Emergen-C, Advil Liqui-Gels and Centrum MultiGummy vitamins were located in the Personal Care section.

blue and orange gift bag filled with packages of tissues and a thermometer with bottle of vitamins, tube of lip balm, boxes of medicine on white table

Who do you know that would appreciate a cold season essentials college care package?

More care package ideas:

Creative College Care Package Ideas

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  1. Susan, I love this care bag. I think you have outdone yourself. I remember when my “baby” was in college and got sick for the first time. Luckily I was only two hours away and could go and take care of her. When we moved and were 6 hours away, it became harder to do. This is a great bag that could be used for so many other things. Love the fabric and the easy tutorial.

    1. Thanks, Cynthia. Only another mama will really understand how tough it is for your “baby” to get sick when you’re hours away.

    1. I agree with you, Monica, that it would be perfect for anyone you care about. Guess I’ll be making a bunch more now. 🙂

  2. What a fantastic idea! I love how thoughtful the gift is, especially for a sick college student away from home, but also that it helps encourage your daughter to take care of herself! {client}

    1. Thanks so much, Stephanie. I’m hoping she can stay healthy at least until she can get home and be pampered by her mama!

  3. It is so important to get this to them before they are sick! It’s hard as a momma not to be there to help them!

  4. Great job on the bag, Susan. I love to sew too so I will have to try this out. I found your blog on SoFab’s FB page and have followed you on your social media.

  5. I live in a building where most, if not all, of us are older or immunecompromised. I absolutely love this idea as something to gift around the start of flu season…or for any time, really. Of course, the contents will be slightly different, and I’ll loom knit rather than sew the bag, but I love your idea! Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. I hadn’t thought of that connection, Bethany. These care packages would be just as appreciated by seniors as they are by college students. Thanks for the great idea! And love that you’re loom knitting the bags. If you have time, I’d really enjoy seeing a photo. You can email me at susan(at)organized31(dot)com .

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