Cosmetic Bag Tutorial

August 11, 2010

The humble cosmetic bag. So versatile, so easy to create. I’ve made tons of these over the years, always in this same manner. I’ve given away several, too, here on the blog. And today I wanted to share how I make my cosmetic bags so everyone can make their own! I create my own laminate fabric for the lining in these instructions, and will share with you how I do it!

Sew Like My Mom | Cosmetic Bag tutorial

Are you ready to make one of your own? This cosmetic bag is quick to sew up and makes a wonderful gift for the women in your life. You can easily customize them with an applique or special fabric.

The finished size of this cosmetic bag is 9″ long, 5″ tall and 5″ wide.

To make you own cosmetic bag, you’ll need:

-Fabric. I used 2 fat quarters and cut them to 14″ by 21″. You don’t have to use fat quarters, just cut 2 pieces of fabric to 14″ by 21″.
-One 14″ zipper
-One piece 14″ by 21″ fusible vinyl**
-One scrap piece of fabric 1.5″ by 3″ for zipper tab

**I found my fusible vinyl at Hancock Fabrics. It was only 17″ wide and was somewhere around $5/yard. Definitely using my 40% coupon next time! It was on the bolt with interfacings.

Apply vinyl according to manufacturer’s instructions. I was a little intimidated at first, but this was actually an easy process!

Take your zipper and lay it right side down on the right side of your outside fabric. Pin and sew. I prefer not to use my zipper foot when installing zippers. I know, I’m such a rebel.

Lay your inside fabric right side down, with the edge lined up on the zipper and sew. I usually do these 2 steps as 1, but the vinyl made the fabric slippery and it was easier to do them one at a time.

Open your fabrics to reveal the zipper. Turn the outside fabric back, fold along the edge of the zipper, and iron. **Make sure your iron doesn’t touch the lining fabric with the vinyl. It will melt the vinyl!!

Turn over and fold the lining down.

Iron with a piece of paper between the fabric and iron.

Top stitch along the zipper. You’ll need to go slow and help the fabric through because the vinyl will be a little sticky against your machine.

So now 1 side of the zipper is done!

Take the bottom of the outside fabric and fold it back up on itself, lining it up with the top of the zipper.

Pin and sew just like you did above. Then flip it over, take the bottom of the lining, and line it up with the edge of the zipper. Pin and sew.

Now open your zipper and turn the bag with the right sides out. **Leave zipper open for the remainder of construction!

Carefully iron down the outside along the edge of the fabric. the lining will be ironed at the same time, so make sure it’s not sticking out funny. You don’t want to melt your vinyl!

Then flip it over and iron the vinyl side. Don’t forget your paper!

Top stitch down this side, too.

Take your zipper tab, fold right sides together length-wise, and sew at 1/4″.

Use a safety pin to turn right side out. Iron flat with your seam in the middle of the inside. I then like to top stitch down either side.

Turn the bag inside out and lay flat with the zipper in the middle. Fold the tab in half, with the seam on the inside, and pin to the open end of the zipper.

Sew both ends shut using 1/4″ seam allowance.

Mark all 4 corners of the bag at 2.5″ from each edge. (Truthfully, if you understand bag construction, you should mark 2.5″ from one edge, and 2.25″ from the other to account for the seam allowance)

Cut out the corners.

Open each corner, and line the seam up in the middle of the flat edge. Sew across. Repeat on all 4 sides.

It will look something like this.

And for really nice results, when you sew the corners, make sure you sew your middle seam pointing down on both sides. I also like to clip my edges with pinking shears!

That’s it! Turn right side out, poke your corners so they’re nice and straight, and enjoy!

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101 Responses to “Cosmetic Bag Tutorial”

  1. Tairay said:

    Awesome tutorial! This bag is super cute!

    I’m so happy your blog was posted on One Pretty Thing the other week; it’s so fun! Your 50 followers giveaway has totally inspired me to host a little giveaway of my own! Of course, it won’t be as presh (or useful) as this little bag, but hopefully it will still be fun!

    Thank you!

  2. Marie Gross said:

    You rock! Now if I could just find some spare time…

    I’m off to make calzones!

  3. Betsie said:

    It’s beautiful! :)

  4. CJ said:

    I don’t know how you make such fantastic things while raising two adorable little girls – amazing!

  5. Katie said:

    This is great! I tried making one of these the other day and it did not turn out so well. Love the idea to use the fusible vinyl (I didn’t even know that existed) and also to cut the corners out ahead of time. Awesome. Yours looks great! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Melanie said:

    What are the dimensions of the finished bag? Just trying to see how big it is. Love this bag though. Brilliant!

  7. gayle k. said:

    I am going to try this tutorial as one my christmas projects. What are the final dimensions of the bag?

  8. Melissa said:

    I’ve been asked this before, so I went back and added the dimensions to the top of the post. It’s 9″ long, 5″ wide and 5″ tall.

  9. Sarah said:

    What a great tutorial! Would you consider posting it on Instructables.com as well? With such awesome pictures and text, it’s just a matter of copy + paste. And it’s a great way to drive traffic back to your blog! Let me know what you think :)

    -Sarah
    Lifestyle Editor, instructables.com

  10. Cynthia said:

    WOW! Great tutorial you save me live for put this tutoria.

  11. Mandi said:

    I made this for my step-mom and stuffed it full of fun goodies for Christmas, and it turned out so beautifully! I had some trouble with the zipper, but eventually I got it to work. Thank you so much for this!

  12. Maria said:

    Fabulous tutorial – thanks for posting. Just made one up for a gift and it is brilliant – I now have to make on for myself!! Can I suggest an amendment though – I think you meant that the the zipper tab should be 3″ x 3″ cut so it measures 1.25″ in width when sewn? The pics look as though this is the dimension you actually used. Thx again for the very clear instructions – i am off to see if i can get some pinking shears to finish the bag off properly. :)

  13. Sewing: Cosmetic Bag « said:

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  14. Samantha said:

    Thank you so much for this great tut and awesome pics!! I was wanting to make a little knitting project bag, and this is perfect. Thank you!!!

  15. dresden said:

    I just found your blog through stumbleupon. I LOVE it! I am going to make this cosmetic bag as soon as possible! I want to make one big enough to keep my shampoo and conditioner bottles when I travel. You do a really great job explaining how to make things. Great job!

  16. Time to Sew Something « Cards and More said:

    [...] From Sew Like My Mom I want to make this Cosmetic Bag with the help of this great tutorial! [...]

  17. Toiletry Bag | Sewing Novice said:

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  18. Cosmetic Bag « Cards and More said:

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  19. MegExpressions said:

    thanks for the great tutorial! Instructions and photos were very clearly laid out. meg

  20. anqelicaa said:

    qreat pictsss.im takinq sewinq classess myself.!

  21. Karen’s Makeup Bag « My Simple Country said:

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  23. Taylor said:

    So i am right in the middle of making this bag and i just sewed on the zipper. I followed your instructions but the zipper part wasn’t very clear to me. I ended up sewing the inside fabric on one side of the zipper and the outside fabric on the other. I didn’t realize they were supposed to be on the same side of the zipper until i looked at your next picture and realized that mine didn’t look like that. Maybe you should fix that and make it more clear about sewing both pieces to the same side of the zipper! Hope this helps! Other than that its a great tutorial and I’m having fun making this cute bag!

  24. Rose said:

    Great directions, it was super clear. I made mine with oilcloth instead of vinyl on fabric because I had it, it worked the same. To make the vinyl not stick to the machine, you can use tissue paper on the bottom and top as you sew. Then tear it off.
    Thanks!

  25. Grace said:

    This was a great project! I used a fabric with a weird pattern though (it had people on it) , so some of my strategically cut people had their heads cut off, or were only feet. :( But otherwise, it was great. I accidentally got a chunky zipper, which didn;t work at all, but with a thinner zipper, it was great. My stupid ruler had a 1/2 inch edge which I completely missed, so I had to make my corners 3 by 3. My bag is a little less square and more rectangular and tall. I can’t wait to use it next week on vacation. Thanks for the easy pattern!

  26. nadine said:

    très belle trousse de toilette.
    j’adore les tissus

  27. Travel Handmade [Cosmetic Bags] | The Sewing Summit said:

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  28. Tiffany said:

    Hello,
    I’m new to this thing..lol…If I had a 12″ zipper how big should my fabric pieces be? I would love to try and make this!
    Thanks,
    Tiffany

  29. Jenny said:

    Your tutorial was really helpful! I wanted to make a pencil pouch by using your way on making a cosmetic bag. So what measurements should I make for the fabric if I wanted the finished dimensions to be 9″ long, 2″ tall, and 2″ wide?
    Thanks!

  30. Makeup Bag Tutorial | Sew Like My Mom said:

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  31. Gilly said:

    Hi if I wanted to make the bag smaller i.e. 7 inches long x 3 inches wide what would my measurements for fabric and zip be please?

  32. Fat Quarter Fail « Should I Stay or Should I Sew? said:

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  33. Tutorial bag | Seksitarinat said:

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  34. Claire McManus said:

    Hiya, fab bag thank you soooo much.

    Just a question really.

    Can you tell me some more about the point you mentioned about 2.5 and 2.25 for the seam allowances on the corners. I’ve make the bag, just about to start the corners and my lining seems too big for the bag, even though it’s the same size as the bag, just wanted to pick your brains really????

    Any tips greatly appreciated.

    Love
    Claire

  35. Melissa said:

    Hi Claire! I’m not sure what to say about the different size in the lining, I hope you got that figured out.

    When I said 2.5″ and 2.25″ it’s because when you measure to do the seam, one side already has a seam in it, so you need to take that seam allowance into consideration. I used .25″ seam allowance, so to make it square you do 2.5″ from that side and 2.25″ from the folded side to make it even. The side that has the seam in it is .25″ smaller than the other side so you have to measure from your stitching in. To compensate for that, I just add the extra quarter inch to my math when I cut. When I made this one, I didn’t do it that way and it worked out just fine, so I wouldn’t hesitate to just cut the same from each side. I hope that made sense and didn’t confuse you more. If it did, just do 2.5″ from each side and you’ll be good. :) Good luck!!

  36. Claire McManus said:

    Thanks chick, you’re a star. Been busy with making celebration cakes for the holidays and birthdays, so I’m itching to get back to my sewing machine.

    thanks again,

    Claire
    xx

  37. Anna said:

    Love this bag, can’t wait to try it out. However, I am confused about the function/purpose of the zipper tab! It just end up being a little loop that sits at the end of the zip?

  38. Kathren said:

    Thank you so much for the detailed tutorial! I made this for my daughter for a Christmas gift. It turned out perfect! I bought the Heat and bond vinyl at Joann’s in the sewing notions aisle. A package with two yards was 9.99 but I used my 50% off coupon so now I can make some more bags!

  39. NMJewel said:

    Thanks so much! It’s perfect! The bag, the instructions, … I blogged, I linked! I whipped out 3 of them today. (I was ready with materials, just needed the pattern.)

  40. cookie said:

    wow that’s so pretty! what happens if we want to make it smaller? ohh and does it have a crinkly sould because of the vinyl?

  41. Brit said:

    Uhm, I have 6 sisters-in-law, a sister and two female cousins I give presents to. This tutorial saved Chistmas.

  42. Melissa said:

    If you want to make it smaller, just adjust the size down. It does have a slight crinkle sound, but nothing that’s loud or offensive.

  43. Tiffany said:

    I just made my own make up bag and I couldnt be happier! Thank you so much for a step by step guide, easy to follow, clear, and the end result is awesome!!! I cant wait to make one for all my friends!!! I am zipper fearful and this was a piece of cake!

  44. Christmas Presents 2012 - warfieldfamily said:

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  45. Heidi Weston said:

    Love this pattern! Thanks so much for sharing! If I wanted to make one smaller, how do I calculate the size of the cuts to make in the corners? Is there a formula to follow? Again, thanks for posting!

  46. Howdy! | Stitch Parade said:

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  47. paula said:

    great step by step instructions and ideal pictures too, have just made one and will be making a lot more for birthday presents and gifts, a huge thank you

  48. Gabi said:

    That is a fantastic tutorial. Love it. Easy and beautiful.
    I will make another one in smaller. Do I see that correctly that the corners to cut are basically half the desired width plus seam allowance?

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  50. Fran said:

    So easy! Thanks for the great tutorial. I made one change after I couldn’t get the fusible vinyl. I used a flannel backed vinyl (like table cover) and it worked really well. I can wait to make a slightly bigger one for ‘wet stuff’.

  51. Juanita said:

    I loved this bag. I have now made about 7 or 8 and each one is better than the one before it. I found my fusible vinyl is either Amazon or Joann’s Fabric. Sometimes one of them have a sale going on.

    Thanks for sharing for pattern.

  52. Kathy said:

    Hi Melissa,

    I love the bag, and am itching to make one for myself asap! Your tutorial makes it seem less intimidating as I thought! I might play with the dimensions and make it bigger for my sister (who doesn’t know the meaning of tossing old makeup!) LOL!

    Just a thought, when you are ready to sew the bag, pin some tissue paper on top of the vinyl. When you are finished stitching, the paper will pull right off, and you won’t have the problem with the vinyl sticking to your machine.

    Thanks again!
    Kathy

  53. خياطة وتفصيل said:

    wow that’s so pretty! what happens if we want to make it smaller? ohh and does it have a crinkly sould because of the vinyl?

  54. Kaeli said:

    Wow, this was a great tutorial!

    I didn’t quite expect it to turn out as large as it did, but I can work with it. It is a great, fashionable little bag for the top of my vanity. I will likely rework the size a little bit to create a travel version of this.

    Thank you for the easy instructions! I’d say I was an advanced beginner when it comes to sewing and I was able to complete this in a couple hours, from start to finish (including a blunder or two, lol).

  55. Asjia Garner said:

    Hi Melissa,
    Can I make the bag bigger….say 14″ by 30″. Is that too big?
    Thank you for the awesome tutorial!

    Sincerely,
    Asjia Garner

  56. Lkg07c said:

    Just finished my first bag today! Turned out really cute and SOOO easy :) Glad I checked the zipper after I sewed and ironed the first side… I got the back a little too close. Thanks for the great instructions and pics!

  57. Torrie said:

    Hello! :) I just wanted to let you know that I actually made a bag like this for my final project in my high school fashion design class. It was a lot of fun to make. Your tutorial was nicely done, though my teacher did have to help me on some things (which may just be because I am an extreme noob!!) Anyways, I just wanted to say thanks for a great tutorial– I love my bag!
    A pic can be found in the website. ;)
    [ http://addcolortotheworld.tumblr.com/post/23013354984/this-is-a-picture-of-a-bag-i-finished-for-my-final ]

  58. Asjia Garner said:

    Alrighty I really need your advice on this Melissa! So I did this cosmetic bag for my friend with clear vinyl because I could not get fusible vinyl. But the bag was a little floppy, so for my second bag I used clear vinyl, two thin 14″ by 21″ printed fabric and canvas. The project wass great until my machine needle broke when I had to sew the ends shut because the layers were too thick. So i tried a 16/100 needle and that broke too. So i was wondering if it is possible to use a 19/120 needle for this. I really hope there is a solution because the bag would be awesome and sturdy with the canvas! Does the fusible vinly make a difference in sturdiness?? does it make the fabric not flimsy? Please help! Thank you! I love love love this tutorial! I am making this for all of my friends’ bdays!

  59. Chloe said:

    I LOVE this tutorial! I’ve made two this evening and am delighted with them. They look so professional and neatly finished. Thank you so much!

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  62. telefon said:

    ……

    As a Newbie, I am always exploring online for articles that can aid me. Thank you…

  63. Rachel said:

    thanks so much for this tutorial! i made my bag a bit bigger, because i didn’t have a smaller zipper, but i love it! now i just have to figure out how to add a handle and it will be perfect!

  64. Michele A. said:

    Just made one of these little numbers and it is awesome! Making another one in the next coouple of days for my bbf’s birthday (gonna fill it with fun girlie stuff).

    The only mod I made was that I made the tab a little larger.

    Great tutorial! Thanks!

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    What are the dimensions you cut out of the corners?

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  69. Nicky said:

    Hi
    Sorry I am a bit confused how you put the fabric to the zip.
    Can anyone explain it better as I have tried a few times and can’t seem to get it right..
    I am putting the good fabric and lining fabric together and sewing onto zip edge and then doing the same for the other side but I feel they should be separate somehow?

    Thanks

  70. kaymarianou said:

    I love this cosmetic bag. I made some for my friends.

  71. Vicky said:

    I’m so excited to make one of these as a gift! I was just wondering how long roughly does it take to make 1 bag? Thanks

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  73. Kelly said:

    Thank you so much just ran one of these up as a last minute Christmas present for my sister and she loved it

  74. Julie said:

    This is a FABULOUS tutorial!! Thank you for sharing! Made 10 for Christmas gifts!!

  75. Joanne said:

    Brought my iPad into a sewing social today so I could follow along on the blog. First time sewing a zipper, first time using vinyl interface. Super easy, great looking bag, thank you so much for sharing this!

  76. Rana said:

    LOVE this tutorial!!!
    Can’t wait to try it this week :)

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  79. debi mangi said:

    this seems like a great tutorial & i’m dying to make this bag for my daughter. I have put zippers in many times but for some reason with the lining, this is confusing me. Do you put the lining down & sew it the first time you are sewing in your zipper? It says to use only the top fabric but then how do you get the lining sewn in there? why am I confused? I’ve sewn & ripped out several times & I guess I now need help!!
    thans.

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  81. Krystal said:

    I do not have fusible vinyl. Would it work ok if I just sew in the vinyl versus ironing.

    By the way. GORGEOUS bag

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  86. Irene said:

    Thanls for the tutorial! I made two bags in view of our our forthcoming vacation and they turned out great!

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  89. Mattea Shea said:

    Our bag turned out fine. It’s a bit large, though. So next time we’ll make it a little bit smaller. And, we’ll add another zipper tab on the other side, because even though it’s easy to open, closing it is a but of a struggle. Plus, the lining is the same size as the shell so the inside is wrinkly. But it’s the inside…. You probably shouldn’t be cutting the lining the same size as the shell, because once it’s turned inside out, the lining is wrinkled. Overall, pretty good bag.

  90. Niko said:

    Sorry but I think this tutorial is very difficult and confusing… The zipper and lining

  91. Chloe said:

    This is awesome, i’m excited to make it for a christmas present. does anyone know if you can you use faux leather or pre made vinyl fabric rather than the iron on vinyl on top of fabric?

  92. Kris said:

    Can I use canvas fabric isntead of vinyl? I’m gonna us this tutorial for an assignment for my fashion class.

  93. Melissa said:

    I don’t see why not?!

  94. samantha said:

    where did you get your material at?

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  99. Mary said:

    I actually started this bag with another tutorial that was horrible and finished the bag with your instructions. I put a tab at both ends of the zipper (just because) and had a layer of very thin batting in between the laminate and the exterior fabric.

    Well done instructions. Thanks

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  101. Jen said:

    Just had to say Thank sew much for this great video, and only hope I can someday make this bag!

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