DIY Craft: Zippered Cosmetic Bags

Tired of losing stuff? Need a new bag for your purse or for travel? Want to make a quick homemade gift for family or friends? Well, I have the perfect tutorial for you! Our annual “Ladies Only” family weekend is rapidly approaching so I made these for the ladies. If I can do it, so can you! Same bag; two fun patterns.

Colorful stripes or stylish black & white - both are fun!

Are you familiar with oilcloth? It’s that fabulous retro fabric used mainly to make tablecloths. It has a plastic-coated outer layer and a soft fleecy flannel lining, which makes it perfect for these little cosmetic bags. It’s durable and washable. And if you have a great fabric store in your area, you can potentially find fabulous prints, solids or stripes to work with. You will, of course, need a sewing machine with a zipper foot to create these at home but if you’ve got that, you’re half way there.

For each bag, you will need:

1 rectangle piece of oilcloth (8 1/2″ x 11″)
1 heavy-duty 7″ metal zipper in a coordinating color
thread in a coordinating color
1 6″ piece of ribbon in a coordinating color

To start, cut your oil cloth into a rectangle. I used a standard piece of printer paper as my template, since it measures 8 1/2″ x 11″.

Next, cut the rectangle in half to make two equal pieces that are 8 1/2″ x 5 1/2″. You’ll also need to cut two tabs (1.5″ x 1.5″ square) for the zipper.

Using those small squares, you’ll need to stitch them on each end of the zipper. First fold one side under 1/4″ to create a finished end. Place that end up against the end of the zipper and pin into place. You’ll want to do this on both ends of the zipper, then double stitch into place.

Next, grab a side and fold one long edge under 1/4″. With the zipper closed, center the folded edge along one side of the zipper and pin it into place.

Using the zipper foot, stitch along the folded edge making sure you sew off of both ends. Also note that once you get close to the zipper, you’ll need to remove a few of the pins you just sewed over, raise the zipper foot, and unzip the zipper so that you can get past the zipper head without messing up your stitching. Don’t worry. It’s not as scary as it sounds. The pins you’ll remove to unzip the zipper will be in the area you just stitched, so it’s all good. Once you’ve stitched all the way across one side, remove the pins and do the same on the second side.

Using the same method, sew the second side of the bag along the zipper. Once both sides are stitched on, it should look like this.

Now that your two sides are stitched onto your zipper, you’re almost ready to fold it up and sew it shut. One important tip – before you do, be sure to unzip the bag half way. Otherwise, you’ll stitch your bag shut and the zipper pull will be on the inside. Unzipping that bag is going to be really difficult if the zipper pull is on the inside and the bag is sewn shut. (Live & learn, kids. Live & learn.)

So, once you’ve unzipped the zipper half way, fold the bag in half so that the “good” sides are facing each other and pin it to keep it from slipping as you sew.

Here are close-ups of the zipper ends and how they’re pinned.

See that white peeking out of the ends of the zipper? That’s what those tabs we sewed onto the ends were for. They cover that gap in the zipper so you have a nice finished edge when we’re done. I’ll show you another close-up of that in a moment. For now, start at one end of the zipper and using a 1/4″ seam allowance, sew around the three open sides of the bag. If you want, you can stitch around it twice. I just use the “back up” button on my machine and go over those top edges and the bottom corners a couple of times to reinforce them.

Here’s a close-up of those reinforced corners. Snip that corner off before you turn the bag right-side-out to get a good, crisp finished corner.

Turn the bag inside out and using a chopstick or other bluntly pointed object, gently poke the corners (top & bottom) to pop them into place. This is where you’ll be really glad you unzipped that bag halfway. Here’s a closer look at how those corners at each end of the zipper should look. It’s also a good look at how those tabs we sewed on in the beginning come into play. They really do help give a cleaner edge to the finished bag.

One last finishing touch – a ribbon as a zipper pull. It’s not necessary, but it adds a decorative touch and it does come in handy. You’ll need one piece of ribbon in a coordinating color, about 5 or 6 inches long. Fold the ribbon in half to make a 3″ length, then roll the cut ends together and poke them through the little hole in the end of the zipper pull.

Here’s another great tip – use Fray Check to seal the ends of that ribbon and keep it from unraveling. You can find it at fabric stores, and it’s worth keeping around. It really does work. If you wash the bag, retouch with Fray Check.

That’s it! Here’s a look at the finished bag.

If you’re going to use a striped oilcloth, be sure to match stripes when you sew these together. It makes a big difference in how they look once finished.

Same goes for those little tabs you sew on each end of the zipper. If you take a moment to lay all this out before you start pinning, you can even line up the stripes on those end tabs so they match as well. It takes a few more minutes of planning, but it’s worth it in the end. Sometimes, it’s the little things.

One last helpful tip. If you’re going to be making multiple bags, it goes faster if you cut each bag and lay the parts for each bag together. I also stitched all of the tabs onto the zippers before I started sewing bags together. It saved time by allowing me to just grab a zipper and go when I was ready for the next bag.

I hope you’ll jump in and try these. They’re fun to make, and don’t really take a lot of effort or time. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail. If you make them and post pictures, let me know where I can see them. I’d love to see how yours turn out.

And to my mother, sisters, nieces, daughter, granddaughter and all the ladies who’ll be coming to visit next week – surprise! You’ll be getting one of these. Feel free to call dibs on your favorite – stripes or print. They’ll be filled with swag, and they’re going to go fast.

PS – Do I need to apologize for that nail polish color? It is kind of a spastic, groady green. Sorry you had to see that. I was experimenting for St Patty’s Day. Don’t worry… it’s coming off. It’s true what they say. It’s not easy being green.



Filed under Craft Projects, Hoegarden Weekends

27 responses to “DIY Craft: Zippered Cosmetic Bags

  1. Oh Em Gee, Jeanne! Okay, I have to bust out my Singer (which I got two years ago for Xmas and never used) and make like 50 of these. Wow!! Love it. You made it look so easy. Inspired. And Pinned.

    • I’m so excited this could inspire to break out your Singer sewing machine, Megan! My work is done. These were a lot of fun to make, so I can’t wait to see where you go with it. Bridesmaid gifts, perhaps?

  2. Big Sis

    They turned out great and the patterns will go great with the jewelry bags I made to give everyone!! See you soon!!

  3. Oh my goodness, I love the damask! I am a damask freak. They turned out so beautiful and I am impressed with your ability with zippers. I’ve only done one or two in my life and found them challenging. Have a great time at your getaway…the girls will love the makeup bags. :)

    • I’ve only sewn a couple of zippers in my life, too, and these were MUCH easier than sewing one into say a pair of pants. Having those two loose sides to just pin on and stitch made the zipper part much easier. Sewing past the zipper head is trickier than sewing the zipper on, and even that’s not difficult. Trust me – if I can do this anyone can, Kandi!

  4. Craftiest #4

    Sweet!!!! I need a new cosmetic bag! Hopefully all my junk will fit into this. And the choices, they both are great looking. Thanks sis!

    • Talk about timing! I guess you’ll just have to see them in person before you decide which one you want, Sister. And if your junk won’t fit into this bag, we’re going to need to talk about how much junk you carry. :)

  5. Kat

    Like, I can’t get past the fabric you chose. I get that you actually made these and there was a process behind them. But mostly, I’m so incredibly distracted by how beautiful they look in that first snap!

    p.s. I was impressed by your bold experiment with nail color – I have a mint green hiding in my basket that I STILL haven’t worn.

  6. WOW!! I am beyond impressed with those beautiful bags! I admit that I almost checked out when I read the word “zipper” but after reading your excellent directions, I think I may be able to give it a shot. Pinned until I muster the courage!

    I, too, am harboring a metallic lime green polish in the depths of my mani/pedi box. Son #3 picked it out for me. It looked fab on his toes, but not as much as mine. Might be time to revisit that as well. I kind of like your shade, though. More Kermit than metallic. ;)

    • Don’t let the zipper throw you. I swear, it’s so much easier than you think. I hadn’t sewn a zipper in 15 years, and I was intimidated too. Then I made the first bag and immediately thought, “Okay – that was a lot easier than I expected.” I’ve made 12 of these this week, and each one only takes about 10-15 minutes now. I’ve gotten it own to a science. Once you try it, you’ll be making them for everyone you know.

      As for the green polish, I say GO FOR IT! I’ve been looking for other green polish for St Patrick’s Day – ironically (and specifically) a darker metallic. How funny that you have what I’m looking for, and I have what you’d like. I guess the grass, as well as the nail polish in this case, are always greener… The shade I’m wearing in those photos is the Sally Hansen Insta-Dri #450 Lickety-Split Lime. I love this brand, love the wide flat brush, and absolutely love that it dries very quickly.

  7. THese are darling–you are a crafty one!!
    And what fun you have ahead…I’m a bit jealous as I spend my life surrounded by only the male species…:)

    • I have spent my entire life surrounded by women – 4 sisters, my mom, my daughter. Raising four boys is a foreign concept for me. I don’t know how you and Kirsten do it, and you both home school! Until Jonah Bear came a long, the very idea of that would scare me to death. Now I think you both are probably having the time of your lives. Boys are amazing and so much fun! All the girls in our family have tried for years to get the men to have a weekend of their own, but so far they haven’t pulled it off. Their loss. We girls absolutely love our “ladies only” weekend each spring.

  8. Very lovely! But I’d have to find another use for one. I don’t actually carry cosmetics in my purse as I rarely wear any. Maybe corralling the stuff that I carry around for The Cub…crayons, bandaids, granola bars, etc. Hmmm….what color….

    • It would make a great bag for The Cub’s stuff. I also made one that was longer and more narrow for my flat iron. My next one will be larger to hold my hair dryer, brushes and mousse when I travel. If you pad it, it would make a great little camera bag for a pocket camera. The possibilities are endless!

  9. I love crafting and making simple sewing projects. And I get so proud of myself when I sew something with a zipper. Oh, and I absolutely love your green nail polish. Can I come to this family weekend? :)

    • Yes! A vote for the green polish! I’ve only worn it a few times, and each time I do, I usually gasp “whoa!” when I look at it. It only comes out in the spring. Something about all this blooming makes me break out the green polish. I’m usually terrified of zippers, but these are so easy to work with it’s just not an issue. If I had to sew a zipper into a pair of pants, I’d be an emotional mess. I swear on an stack of zippers, this tutorial is just as easy as it looks. I wish all my blogger friends could come to Hoegarden, but alas – it’s a family thing. Maybe some day I’ll win a buhzillion dollars in the Texas lottery and I can host a blogger pajama party for a weekend. When that happens, you’ll be on the invitation list. :)

  10. Those are precious! Unfortunately, I can’t even sew on a button, but I will forward this to my sister-in-law who is an amazing seamstress. She will love it.

    • Any time someone says they can’t sew, I want to invite them to my house for a weekend to prove them wrong. It’s so easy once you get over your initial fear of the unknown. If you make it back to Houston some day, I’m happy to teach you a few tricks so you can try this for yourself. Hope you SIL have fun with it. I did. I’m searching everywhere now for cute oilcloth so I can make more for everyone I know. They really do make great gifts.

      • I would love that! :) Very sweet of you. My mother and grandmother were also very talented (I am amazed to think my mother used to sew many of my sister’s clothes, and made me fancy dresses. I also keep a nightgown my grandmother sewed for me when I was 8 in my drawer). I always feel like it’s a bit sad to break tradition and have to resort to having my husband sew on my buttons when one falls off. :) Would be nice to redeem myself!

  11. These are lovely and would make ideal gifts for all my friends. Going to have to get some oil cloth – not sewn with that before, or attempted zipped bags – fingers crossed!

    • You can do it! It’s really easier than you think. Oilcloth is a lot of fun, but sometimes hard to find. Oddly enough, my mother finds great selections in her small town, but I have a hard time finding cute oilcloth prints in Houston. Guess it’s more of a small-town fabric. I’m so happy you found my blog. Thanks for subscribing. I hope you’ll come back over and over again. I’m also looking forward to browsing your blog for more crafty ideas. If you make these zippered bags, please let me know how they turned out. I’d love to see it posted on your blog! -jeanne

  12. Pingback: One Kitchen, Many Hearts – June Edition « Comfortably Domestic

  13. Love your nails! Good contrast for the photos and drew me to click when I saw the images on Google search for zipper pulls. And I love the way you do zippers. Thanks!!

    • Thanks, Sarah! The nail polish wasn’t intentional at the time. I’d found that great springy green and was experimenting. I loved it & my husband hated it. I wasn’t really thinking about it when I did the tutorial, but you’re right – it does make for nice contrast in the photos.

      The zipper trick works perfectly, and I love it. It covers each end of the zipper and makes it so much easier to stitch up the sides of the bags. I love simple but effective tricks for stuff like that, especially given that many of us are scared to death of sewing in zippers. Glad you liked it, and thanks so much for dropping in and commenting! -jeanne

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