Spring Sewing Project – Cosmetic Bag!

In my effort to not waste anything, I repurposed zippers from a new duvet cover set we bought! It came in three plastic bags with “real” zippers so I removed them and started an impromptu sewing project. For me, sewing projects usually end in tears. But this one was a success!

I bought fabric from a sale pile at Fabricland, opting for some spring colors because spring has not sprung yet in Alberta. It’s April 6, and still minus twenty. It’s depressing. So I’m using this fabric and a project to cheer myself up, this never ending winter has me very restless. The flower pattern was $2.10 for 0.3 m and the stripes were $1.80 for 0.3 m. I had to buy orange thread to go with it which was the most expensive part at $4. The zippers I used were cheap plastic ones that you can actually sew right over, but if you were to use a metal zipper or a decent plastic one, you need to make sure you buy the exact right size. There’s no “resizing” those ones.

I borrowed the pattern from a blog called So Sew Easy, but I was too lazy to download it so I just watched her video and guessed at the dimensions that would work for my zippers. The first two bags took me half an hour each but the third and nicest one took an hour. Turns out if you actually pin things and take care, things line up and look beautiful.

So the first bag cost me nothing and it was a test run. Its made out of old painting rags from the basement, whatever thread was already in the machine, and a 9″ zipper from the duvet set. I based it off a 1 minute Facebook video I saved, and it didn’t have sides or a bottom. But it works great for keeping all the small things together in my work bag. It built up my sewing confidence.

I made the larger bag yesterday and didn’t document anything, I’m not a pattern person so this is basically just a rough guide, more so for myself in the future. I can see myself wanting to make more of these! These dimensions are for the smaller bag in front.

Start with two fabrics. One thinner, more flexible, softer one for the lining. For reference: my lining is stripes. A thicker, more sturdy fabric is better for the outside, mine is a lawn furniture upholstery fabric. For reference: my outside is flowers. It’s important to distinguish. Don’t choose one fabric for the whole project unless you want to cry.

To get the sides of the bag, you’ll have to cut a shape like this. All four are identical, 2 for the lining, 2 for the outside. The depth of the 90 degree corner has to match the angle from the edge to the top zipper area. So mine is 2″ deep, which means the angled side goes from the full width, down to 2″ less at the top.

Here’s some rough dimensions. I had a 13″ zipper that I shortened (because I was running out of fabric) to about 11″ and reinforced. The top opening ended up around 10″. Total width was 14″. Total height was 8″. Depth and height of 90 degree corner was 2″ for both.

I cut one good shape and then just laid it on top of the rest of the fabric and cut around it. That’s the lazy mans way and it worked fine, just be careful it doesn’t keep getting bigger and bigger.

So once you’ve got four shapes, you’re going to take an outside panel PRINT SIDE UP. Take the zipper and unzip it halfway, this is actually super important. Lay the zipper FACE DOWN.

Then take a lining panel and lay it on top PRINT SIDE DOWN. Pin this all evenly and sew across the top, when you approach the zipper, gently zip it shut and keep sewing. Keep the edge of the fabric to the edge of the presser foot gets a snug fit to the zipper.

Fold it back and iron it, but do not get the iron near the plastic zipper, it will melt the teeth!

One side of the bag is done, now attach the other side the same way. Keep these two pieces you just did together, they’ll be in the center.

Lay down the last outside Panel PRINT SIDE UP. Lay down the whole piece you just sewed on top, with zipper half open and FACE DOWN. Lay remaining lining panel on top PRINT SIDE DOWN. Pin and flip it over temporarily to reveal how it should look, make sure it’s right, and sew. Watch for the zipper, approach slowly, zip closed and keep going.

Iron again! The hard part is done.

Now don’t get confused and think you’re going to sew the stripes to the flowers on each side. STRIPES TO STRIPES. FLOWERS TO FLOWERS. Separate them. You were working with them together before, but not anymore.

Match up your edges on your flowers and pin. Match up your stripes and pin. Now sew around all the edges, make sure the zipper is half open in there. When you sew across the zipper to change from stripes to flowers, make sure the zipper is laying flat, and one seam allowance is going left and one is going right to balance it. DO NOT sew the 90 degree corners and DO NOT sew the bottom edge of the stripes.

Leave the corners open and only sew half way in each way on the striped bottom. This is where you stick your hand in and pull the bag right side out.

Once that is all done, you may sew the 90 degree corners by pulling them open and laying it flat. Ironing it flat helps. The side of the bag is going to overhang and the bottom of the bag is going to be the more flatter one (see pic below). This is where it’s IMPORTANT TO LINE THINGS UP. Also again make sure one seam allowance is going left and one is going right to avoid bulk.

See how it doesn’t line up? That’s fine, sew straight(ish) across and trim it. Go back and forth and reinforce this edge as it’s the weight bearing edge of the bottom of the the bag.

Line it up. One seam allowance left, one right.

If you take two extra minutes, you’ll have beautiful corners. At this point, everything should be sewed, as below. Trim any ends and wide seams that will add bulk, get it all neat and tidy before you turn it. The hole in the lining is still open. Stick your hand in and turn the bag right side out and pray to the sewing gods that please, somehow, this whole time, you’ve managed to not screw it up.

TA DAH! This is the opportune time to text Chris and tell him you made it through without crying.

Iron it again if you want to crisp up the corners, tuck the lining inside nicely, test run the zipper. Hopefully nothing is backwards. If it is, I’m sorry, I don’t know where you went wrong.

Do a photoshoot with your new bags.

I actually might like the striped lining better than the flower outside.

Enjoy your new bags! Not just for make up!

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