Cosmetic Bag tutorial, sewing tutorial, Tutorials, zippy pouch tutorial

Tutorial: Cosmetic Bag with Exterior Card Pocket

I like to carry business cards with me, in case someone asks where I got my bag, at which point I’m all like: ‘Thank you, I made it myself.  There’s one for sale in my etsy store; here’s my business card!’.
I got a free metal business card holder when I bought the cards, but it sucks and I don’t like using it.  But I love cosmetic bags and carry loads of them – different bags have different genres, like one for kleenex and headache pills, another for cosmetics, another for loyalty cards. So making a cosmetic bag with a card pocket really does two jobs! Yay! I love multi-taskers!
I thought you might like one too, so here’s a tutorial:

Fabric and Interfacing and Notions:
You’ll need:
Small amount Exterior Fabric
Small amount Interior Fabric
Small amount Fusible Interfacing
One 7 or 8 inch zipper (I know the one in the pic is a 7 inch, but I actually used an 8 inch and I’ll explain it later)
A little bit of Iron On Velcro

The measurements for the large pieces are:
•    6 inches by 8.25 inches / 15 cm by 20.5 cm
•    One Small Piece:  2.5 inches by 4 5/8 inches / 6.5 cm by 12 cm
•    One Really Small Piece: 2 inches by 4 5/8 inches / 5 cm by 12 cm

Large Pieces, Cut:
•    2 x Exterior Fabric
•    2 x Interior Fabric
•    2 x Fusible Interfacing (I used woven because I prefer its adherence properties)

Small and Really Small Pieces, Cut:
•    1 x Ext. Fabric
•    1 x Int. Fabric
•    1 x Interfacing

1. Ready Your Pieces: After you’ve cut everything out, iron the fusible interfacing onto the exterior fabric pieces:

2. Make up the outside pocket and flap: Pin those pieces with Right Sides Together (RST), and sew using ¼” seam allowance (SA).  Make sure you leave a gap so you can turn them out, and ***Important!!*** Make sure you leave the gap at the bottom of your pocket piece, and at the top of your flap! This is because we’re going to sew the gap shut when we attach those pieces to the front of your cosmetic bag!

Ok, so now you need to cut the corners off and turn those little pieces Right Side Out (RSO) like the little flap on the left above – Iron them like crazy, and when you’re happy, place them on the exterior piece and pin them down.  Make sure the flap covers over the pocket, but not so much than you can’t get a card in there!

Put your pins around the edges to test whether you can get a card in there and whether there’s enough room for your little velcro tabs.

Now, stitch the pocket and flap in place, and iron on your little velcro pieces, like in the pic:

3. Zipper Attachment: Okay, now I’ll explain why you might want to use a longer-than-necessary zipper.  You know how when you’re sewing a zipper on, and you’re doing it all straight and pretty, and then you get to the zipper pull and your stitches go all WonKy? Well, if you use a longer zip, and ‘hang’ the zipper pull end of it off the side of your fabric, you won’t have that problem! Let me show you what I mean:

Place your zipper at the top of an interior piece, with the zipper pull hanging off the end, and pin in place (see pic for details).  If you’re happy with the placement, move on:

Now sew that zipper down using your zipper foot.

Now place an exterior fabric piece FACE DOWN (with top side up, too) on top of your zipper and interior piece:

Pin in place and stitch again using your zipper foot.

Ok, now we have to do that again for the other side of the zipper, so put the other side of the zipper on your other interior piece, like so:

This just gives you an idea of placement – you should pin and sew all the way across, not halfway like it’s implied in the picture!

Stitch that down, then place your other exterior piece FACE DOWN on top of what you’ve just sewn:

Stitch that down, iron, and admire your zipper! Well done!

4. Optional: Topstitch along the edges of the zipper, like I’ve done in this pic:

5. Cut off extraneous ends of zipper, like in the pic:

6. Unzip your zipper Now!! Then, lay out and sew edges: Ok, now you need to put the interior pieces facing each other RST, and the exterior pieces will do the same.  Your zipper will be sandwiched in between, like in the pic:

Remember: It’s more important to match the top edges of the exterior up than the bottom ones – so make sure that each side of the exterior is lined up before you pin.
Pin the edges, and mark a 4 inch opening at the bottom that you’ll keep open so you can turn everything RSO at the end (see my 2 purple marks there?):

Ok, here are a couple of tips from someone who’s made loads of these—through the layers of fabric, find the bottom end of the zipper.  Mark where it ends, so when you’re sewing, you can make sure you don’t try to run over the end of your zipper, but stitch just beside it.  Also, after you’re done stitching, go back and snip the excess tops off the end of the zipper.  You don’t need them and they’ll just be in the way when you turn it out.  Don’t snip your stitching!!

Here’s what it looks like after it’s been sewn:

7. Turn it out! But first, clip the corners, and iron your little gap open so it’s easier to sew it shut at the end.  Now, turn the whole thing out through your gap. Iron like crazy to get it all pretty.

Then, pin your little gap shut, and edgestitch it shut! Done! If you have any problems, questions, or suggestions, leave a comment or email me!

© Copyright J C Excell, 2011
All rights reserved

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14 thoughts on “Tutorial: Cosmetic Bag with Exterior Card Pocket

  1. Hey Jenna, what a great tutorial and I just loooooove the fabrics you used.

    I need to make some little zipper bags, thanks,

    Claire :}

  2. hey! great tutorial! just wondering, why do you sew the lining fabric and outside fabric to the zipper in 2 steps instead of in one step? also, when i topstitch the fabric to the zipper there is are 2 funny bumps that happen right at the ends of the zipper when i turn the whole pouch inside out (or outside in i guess). am i doing something wrong? if i don't topstitch the fabric to the zipper, there is no bump.

    thanks for the help!

  3. I have the same question as anonymous about the two-step (four-step, really) zipper sewing. I am also a little confused about this tip: "find the bottom end of the zipper. Mark where it ends, so when you’re sewing, you can make sure you don’t try to run over the end of your zipper, but stitch just beside it." Can you explain that more?

    Sorry — I'm kind of a newbie. I just did my first zipper pouch, though, and I did have some extra bulk at the zipper top and bottom. I'd like to cure it, but I just don't totally understand.

    Thanks for the tip about using a longer zipper so you can get the zip out of the way for topstitching. My topstitching on the one I did went WAY wonky. I was so sad, too, because the rest did look quite nice and pretty!

  4. Thanks for your question – it's really hard to find a balance doing tutorials for new and experienced sewists- you don't want the experienced ones to be irritated by too much blag but don't want new sewists to be confused! So, long winded explanations ahead! Sorry!

    I do my zippers in 4 steps because I ALWAYS found when I did it in a 'zipper sandwich' my stitching was all wonky and not straight, because I couldn't actually see the zipper in relation to the needle and my (slightly crappy) zipper foot – it's probably more of a foot issue than a 'me' issue, but just to be on the safe side I basically sew the zipper twice.

    The end of the zipper thing is for this:
    I find that even when I cut my fabric pieces perfectly the side seam allowances always seem to wander a bit when a zipper is involved. So, when you have your lining pieces all RST, pinned and ready to sew, and your exterior pieces are the same way, take the whole thing and place it with the lining pieces pointed AWAY from you. Now, in all the folds and fabric around the zipper at the edges, feel where your zipper actually ends (as opposed to where your fabric edge is), and mark it.

    That way, when you're actually sewing those sides, you can line your seam allowance up so that the outside corners of your pouch are perfect – the other way to ensure that is that when you are done sewing, clip (carefully!) out some of the excess zipper junk and any bulkiness that's accumulated. Usually that takes care of the weird lumps that might have shown up at the sides.

    Topstitching: if topstitching doesn't really work for you, but you like the look of it, you could try topstitching it with the lining pieces out of the way (pointed the other way) – no one will ever know. Topstitching/edgestitching is one of those things you get better with with practice. When I started on my cheap Janome with no speed control I was rubbish, but now I've a) made about 25 or so cosmetic bags and b) have a nicer machine with (angels singing here!) speed control. makes my sewing way nicer. But even though I've sewn nearly every day for over a year, I still go wayyyy slooowww when going around the edges. And I find slightly smaller stitches are more forgiving – if you go a bit wonky for 1 or 2, you can't tell when you get a foot away from it.

    Oh damn, I've gone on for hours there. I'm terribly sorry! And I might not have helped! If it did help, let me know; if it didn't help, let me know so I can fix it! LOL

  5. Thanks for responding! Ok, so you really mean don't sew over the bottom of the zipper on the side. And it's ok if I don't sew to the outside of both metal bits (top and bottom of zipper)? Because if I'm moving the zipper pull out of the way of my stitching, then I'm not going to get the top bit of metal when I sew that side down. Right? Is that ok?

    Last question, if you don't mind, since you do a lot of these: If I'm using a stiffer fabric for the exterior, like a canvas or thicker home dec fabric or something, may I dispense with the interfacing? I would like to do a couple with some canvas and a pretty thick IKEA fabric.


    P.S. I have a (fairly) cheap Janome. I do like it, but it would be nice to have some additional features someday.

  6. @Jenny
    Right. You just want to avoid running your needle over the plastic or metal ends of the zipper, so if you feel and mark for them before you sew, then you won't have any breakage or awkward seams when you sew the sides. It's just a method for avoiding broken needles, really. You can't avoid sewing the seam so you have to avoid sewing the actual zip.
    Re the zipper pull: yep, you've got it, that little baby won't be in your way when you sew the sides as you need to sew it with the zipper open so there will be room to pull it all through. Trust me, it's better to have it open!
    Interfacing: yes, you can totally skip interfacing if you want. There are a couple reasons I use it, and I've found woven fusible interfacing to be the best thing since chocolate. Woven IF actually bonds with the fabric, making it tougher, plus it lends a nice quality feel. So I know that no matter how much my customers use the bag, it'll look nice and new. The London fabric is thicker than home dec, but I've found it goes all floppy when naked.(?) But if you don't want to use it, you should follow that. Besides you can always add in some sew in IF for structure and feel. Try one without any IF, then see how it goes, worst case is you've used a tiny bit of fabric and one zip and learned a whole lot!

  7. I love the fabrics you used, so cute!

    My tutorials are always so long-winded, I think this is great <3

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