Sew This Easy DIY Makeup Bag
In any size you want
This bag is cut in 3 pieces; the same for outer shell and lining. If you’ve ever lined a simple garment or inserted a zipper, you have all the knowledge you need. The idea is to make marks on the wrong sides of your fabric – eliminating the need for a pattern. That way, you can cut and sew your bag in any size. Just be certain when both side-bag panels and zipper are sewn together in one piece, the length and width measurements are consistent with the main-piece of your makeup bag. If you’re working with scraps as I am, it may dictate the size of your bag. Feel free to use garment fabrics but keep practicality in mind. Pre-treating textiles is recommended; especially materials like cottons that shrink and wrinkle when washed. If you’ve ever thought of sewing your own makeup bag, now’s the time.
Choose textiles you love. When I’m looking for materials to make bags, I dig deep into my scraps stash; if you have one, shop there first. Decorator fabrics are usually pre-treated for stain resistance; making them good choices for bags. In addition, widths are around 54 inches; that’s enough for a few makeup bags. Whether you have an aversion to synthetics or you prefer natural fibers, be true to your style. Polyesters, silks, linen, velvets and cotton are all suitable. If you are not fabric-savvy, tell the sales associate at the store you’re trying your hand at a makeup bag and you'd like some fabric guidance. If you intend to do your shopping online, research fabric properties.
We need bags to carry our stuff
Cell phones, keys, cards, ID and cosmetics reflect how a vast majority live. They play a major role in our lifestyles and we need containers to carry them. On self expression, bags offer us a chance to explore in ways we probably won’t with clothing. As you prepare to sew, bear in mind you don’t have to follow every step or make your bag exactly as I did mine.
You Will Need
A sewing machine: sewing entirely by hand will hinder the quick and easy factor.
1 piece of lightweight or medium weight fabric big enough for bag size.
1 piece matching or contrasting lining of equivalent size.
Medium weight interfacing; if using lightweight fabrics.
Matching or contrasting zipper and sewing thread.
Pins: those with bead heads are easier to see and handle.
Needle and thimble for hand sewing; thimbles are useful to push needles through layers of heavier weight fabrics.
Dressmaker’s chalk pencil, ruler, tape, scissors or rotary cutter
Seam ripper: handy when you make mistakes.
Ribbon or bias tape wide enough to encase seams and long enough to go all around bag seams; heavier fabrics require wider bindings.
Iron, ironing board or padded work surface.
Glossary of terms used in the project
Outer shell: The outside fabric of the bag.
Main-piece: Rectangular piece of fabric that consists of front, back and bottom of bag.
Narrow pattern piece: All pieces of side-bag-panels and zipper sewn together.
Side-bag panels: The trapezoid shaped pieces of the bag.
Top of panels: Narrowest edge of the side-bag-panels.
Motif: Recurring pattern or design on fabric.
One-way design: A pattern that goes in a single direction.
Baste: A temporary stitch by machine or hand.
Backstitch: To stitch forward and backward more than once at the beginning and ends of seams. It prevents seams from unraveling.
Notch: Cut out or remove fabric bulk in seam allowance; at corners and around convex/outward curves; so seams lay flat.
Marking, Sewing and Construction Tips
Prewash all washable fabrics and press on wrong sides before cutting
Cut all pieces on the same grain. Lengthwise is typical. Crosswise is may be necessary when working with scraps; that’s good too.
Use a ½” seam allowance and backstitch twice at the ends of zipper and stitched seams.
If you’re using lightweight fabric, add interfacing; if your fabric is medium weight and sturdy, skip it.
For lining considerably softer than your outer fabric, baste, pin, or use temporary fabric adhesive to prevent shifting.
If you’re unsure of required zipper length, select a longer one. Longer zippers create wider openings and will result in shorter side panels. You’ll get to the bottom of your bag easier too. Shorten zippers by measuring and marking where you want it to end, stitch across the mark, and cut off the remainder.
Mark center points at top and bottom of side-bag panels.
Match top edges to zipper tape
Top of side-bag panels must be equal to closed zipper width.
Top of panels must be equal to the width of closed zipper; no added seam allowance at sides. Bottom of side bag panels must be the same width as bottom of bag plus ½” seam allowance on both sides.
Trim seams, notch curves and remember to add seam allowance before you cut!
Measuring Marking and Cutting
Measure and cut 2 rectangles of material; one for outer shell and one for lining. The bag is constructed with 3 pieces; I used upholstery weight fabric with a one-way design. To make sure both motifs faced upward on the front and back of my bag;
I cut the outer shell in two; that gave me four pieces. Turning one piece around and lining up tops and bottoms of motifs, I placed right sides together, stitched a ½” seam across the width of the fabric, and pressed it open. Larger scale designs will be less obvious on a small bag–thereby eliminating the need for adjusting motif placement.
Mark rounded corners
…and trim off edges. After stitching seam allowance, notch to remove bulk.
Use a circular object and a chalk pencil to make rounded marks at corners of main fabric and lining. Trim off edges.
Decide how wide you want the bottom of your bag to be. Remember, width of side-bag panels must correspond with bottom of bag measurements.
Calculate side-bag panel dimensions
To work out the length/height of your side bag panels, measure and mark on zipper tape at center point, between stops. Do the same at midpoint of crosswise edges on main-piece of bag.
Face right sides of fabric and zipper tape together. Align marks and pin or baste from the top center, around curved corner, and down the side, to point before zipper stop. Measure the distance of the pinned or basted area; that will be the length of your panels.
Use the resulting measurements to cut 4 rectangles; 2 of fabric and 2 of lining for side panels.
Sewing and Construction
Methods of construction are personal; use whatever you’re comfortable with; basting as opposed to pinning.
Begin with side-bag panels and zipper
At separate ends respectively, sandwich zipper between top end of side-bag-panel and lining–right sides together. Stitch in place to create one piece; referred to as narrow pattern piece in project.
Working on wrong sides, press seams and pattern pieces as soon as you have sewn them; your finished product will look better.
Place outer shell right side up on wrong sides of lining and pin, tack or baste together. Stitch as close as possible, all the way round raw edges; do the same on side-bag panels. You’ll now be working with two pattern pieces. Some fabrics look less fresh after handling. This is a good time to press if needed.
With right sides together and zipper open, match up marks and pin or baste narrow pattern piece to main-piece all around. Machine stitch and trim seams; notch curves and corners.
Fold ribbon in half lengthwise, slightly off center. Wrap ribbon around trimmed, notched seams with wider side underneath; edgestitch the narrower part of the ribbon; ensuring to catch the wider side beneath. Fold ribbon ½” under and lap ½” over raw edge at end of seam. If you are using ready-made bias binding, stitch close to the edge of the top fold while catching the underneath fold.
Turn bag right side out and press with a cloth if needed. Small bags are a bit tricky to press. If you don't have a tailor's ham, try stuffing bag with soft cloth as you would a pillow, to press seams flat. Take care that the zipper doesn't get caught when closing.
If you’d like to add a matching tassel, see our “How To Make Tassels with Fabric” post here.
Regular sewing sharpens skills
Now that you’ve made one bag, consider making another. Practice makes better; by the time you’ve finished your second one, you’ll learn how to improvise. Busyness is a fact of our lives; to keep your sewing skills sharp, plan a time to sew on a regular basis. You'll make fewer mistakes and finish your projects in shorter time. And eventually you'll hear someone say: "I can't believe that's a DIY makeup bag".
Here’s to sewing enough bags for your needs and some more to give away.
Thanks for visiting and take care.
If the LORD will, see you next time.