Follow My New Blog

I've started a new blog. Follow my crafting adventures on

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Toiletry / Make Up Bag Tutorial

A few weeks ago, before we went out to California to see David's parents, I sewed myself a toiletry bag. I thought I was making a huge bag, big enough for everything, like shampoo and facial cleanser and maybe even a bottle of Tums, but it shrank while I was sewing it and I got a cute bag about the size of an average make-up bag.

When we got home, I was determined to sew a bag that was the right size. We still have a few trips coming up and I wanted something that was the right dimensions for all those things I think I'm going to need. I've tried to pack light. I'm incapable. My brain must be prepared for every last contingency. Who knows? I could have an attack of bad BO and use up a trial size body wash! Everyone else at the family reunion could not remember their toothpaste, and I could find myself providing toothpaste for 60! I could suddenly develop heartburn the size of Texas or be out of treats in the car! Then, I will resourcefully and triumphantly pull out my full-sized bottle of Tums and keep us all sane by feeding Tums to the animals (errrr, children) riding in car seats in the back until we reach the next gas station and can buy treats like caramels or gum, something that will stick their teeth together, thereby allowing David and I to successfully conquer the deserts of Nevada in a mini van, keeping heartburn and insanity at bay. I will never be caught without enough deodorant, Tums, shampoo, a spare set of contacts. etc and so forth. This is my only superpower, and I have to do it well.

So, this is the bag I came up with! It's big enough! It's cute! It was made from stuff I had lying around the house! Triumph.
The cute zipper pull I made with a wrapped loop and some beads.The jean lining peeking through.
If you want to make your own giant-sized lined toiletry bag, I've provided instructions below. If you want to make a simpler bag, Heart of Mary has a super-cool, super awesome, super easy tutorial here.

Ok, first of all, you need three different fabrics for this particular design.
Cut out these (seam allowance is INCLUDED):
2—3.5x12” floral (for across the top)
4—4.5x13” jean (for sides)
2—4.25x13” green (for down center)
1—4x12” jean (for handle)
2—1.5x45” yellow (piping)
2—12x14.2” jean (for lining)
2—12.5x15” approx. fusible fleece interfacing (you can use regular interfacing, but it won’t be as stiff and I would suggest interfacing the lining if you go this route)
Other supplies:
Cording (about two yards)
Thread to match
Zipper (at least 12”)
Charm for zipper pull
Your pieces for the front will look like this once they are cut out.
You can see I use a quilting ruler, mat and rotary cutter. If you are going to be doing a lot of sewing (particularly bags or quilts), I highly recommend getting yourself some of these babies! They are awesome!
Next, sew the cording between the yellow fabric. There’s a great tutorial on how to make your own piping here. It’s super simple and really adds a lot to your project. It should look something like this after you are done.
Ok, next is sewing the middle green to the jean sides. First, lay your jean right side up. Then layer the piping with the rough edge against the edge of your jean (the distance between the stitches and the edge should be your seam allowance, about ½”. If it’s not, trim it down so you don’t have to mess with uneven edges. Then put the green right side down on top of your piping and jean. Your piping should stick out a little past your fabric. Should look like this (except your edges should match up better than mine):
Sew. It will look like this opened up. If you didn’t get your stitching close enough to the piping, sew over it again, closer to the piping (but don't get too close. It needs room to breath.
Repeat with other side and the along the top with floral fabric. Your finished outside should look something like this:
Repeat with the other outside piece.
Next, fuse the fleece to the back side of your outside pieces. Trim up any corners or fleece that overlaps the edges. If you are a bit off in your measurements, it’s not going to matter much as long as you are square and both sides are the same.
Make sure your lining is the same size as your outside.
Now, here comes the zipper. I loath zippers, but this isn’t too bad to put in, especially because I left mine exposed as part of the design.
First, line up your zipper on the edge of your fabric, right sides together. Both ends of the zipper should hang off the fabric a little. Make sure the pull is off the end so you don’t have to mess with it while sewing.
Sew, with about ¼” seam allowance. You don’t even have to use your zipper foot if you don’t want to.
Ok, do the same for the other side.Once you open it up, it will look like this:
I really wish I had a picture of this next part, but I think I can explain it. You are going to flip down one of the sides of the front, so the edge that you have sewn to the zipper is exposed and the whole piece lies flat. Flip so one edge of the zipper is on top and ignore the other side you've already sewn to the zipper. Put lining piece along edge, right side down. Sew along the seam you already made. This is the trickiest part, but you can do it! Here's a diagram:
Turn to other side and repeat. You will end with with the lining looking just like the front:
Press flat. Keeping fabric in this configuration, topstitch along zipper, about 1/8" away from edge of fabric. Phew! That was the hardest part.
The handle. This is super simple after that whole zipper thing. First, fold your fabric in half, hot-dog style, then press. Then, turn in the edges of the fabric to the center fold and press (see photo). Then fold along first press and press again.
Topstitch along the edges (do the open side first) and you have your strap.
Baste your strap in place as shown. Only sew through the top layer and not the lining.
Open your zipper at least half way. Now you are ready to sew this bag into a bag. First, put right sides of the outside together and the right sides of the lining together. Sew around the outside, leaving an opening in the bottom of the lining for turning. Sewing the lining slightly smaller than the outside. My red lines on the photos below show were your sewing lines should be. Sew over the zipper (it should be folded in half). Go really slowly and hand-crank if necessary.
This is the last step before turning! You're almost done. Now, stand your bag upright and match the side seam to the bottom seam. You may need to clip the corners. It should form a right angle. Press.
Next, draw a line to make an triangle. Your line should be square with both your seams. Your line should be about four inches long.
Sew along your line and repeat with other three corners. Trim off the excess, leaving a 1/2" seam allowance. Turn your bag out through the hole in the lining. Press all the seams you can reach, then sew up the hole in your bag. I just realized I got so excited to finish my bag that I forgot to get a picture of this part. Gotta go take a picture now. . . Ok, back with it.
Hold the opening closed and sew across it. Trim your strings. You will probably do a better job than I did trimming yours. I was in a hurry. I get this kind of nervous excitement when I'm about to finish a project and I don't always pay attention to the finishing details. Since there happened to be a pair of scissors on my computer desk, I'm trimming them right now.
Tada! The finished bag, perfect for my trips.
I've started a new blog: Come follow my crafting adventures on my new blog. Find me at:


  1. adorable! you are so talented and creative!

  2. Kara, this is awesome that you showed this. Its been forever since I've made a bag/purse. This makes me want to make one and since you showed how it will make my life easier! lol I also wanted to comment on your digital scrapbook kits I think they're awesome and they inspire me to get my act together and design my own! I have a BA of Science in Multimedia and Web design and I think I could do it (if I tried!!!) :)

    Have a great day!

  3. ooo... beautiful work!!!

    my roommate bought a panda bag!
    She is just THRILLED with it and can’t put it down.

  4. Kara thanks for linking to my piping tutorial! I'm tickled pink that you would - since your tutorials or so professional and fantastic!

    And I must clear time in my schedule to make this bag!

  5. So cut little bag! So nice tute! Tks!


Thanks for stopping by! I love your comments and look forward to hearing from you.