Dance Top Picks

Sewing Blog

Sew Pretty: How to Sew a Makeup Bag

There are a lot of bag patterns out there, and while you might be intimidated to launch into something big, this is a nice project to get your feet wet with making bags. Start here, then work your way up to more advanced projects! Before you know it, you’ll have your own handmade custom duffle bags, makeup bags, shoulder bags and more.

For this project, all you need is a little bit of outer fabric, lining fabric, interfacing and a zipper. No fancy tools, fancy hardware, or unknown notions required! And on top of all that, it makes a lovely gift, especially with the holidays coming up!

Let’s learn how to make your own makeup bag!

how to sew a makeup bag

Sew custom duffels you can make in a weekend and travel with the next. Learn how with lifetime access to lessons from designer Betz White in her online class Sew Better Bags: The Weekend Duffel.

Sign me up! >>

draw the corners

Step 1:

To create the pattern, the bag can be any size you like. Determine the height and width and then add extra for the bottom. Draw squares in the corners on the side that will be the bottom of the bag. I made my squares 2″ x 2″. These squares form the boxed bottom and the part between them will be the bottom of the bag.

cut the corners

Step 2:

Cut out the squares on each corner. You should now have your finished pattern piece.

pin the pattern

Step 3:

Lay the pattern on the outer fabric and pin in place. I recommend a medium weight cotton or linen canvas for the outer and a quilt weight for the lining. Cut the fabric out, remove the pattern and repeat on the lining and interfacing.

cut pieces

Step 4:

You should now have two pieces of outer fabric, two pieces of lining and two pieces of interfacing.

fuse interfacing

Step 5:

Fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the outer fabric by following the manufacturer’s guidelines.

place zipper on the lining

Step 6:

Place your zipper wrong side down on top of the lining. Line up the length of the zipper tape with the cut upper edge of the fabric. I prefer to use a zipper that is too long so the pull is out of the way of the sewing area.

place outer layer on zipper

Step 7:

Place one outer layer on top of the lining and pin in place along the zipper. The outer fabric and the lining should be perfectly in line with each other and both should be flush with the zipper tape.

sew along zipper

Step 8:

Sew the lining and outer fabric to the zipper. I chose to sew mine with a very small seam allowance because I wanted to see my zipper tape since it is a decorative zipper. You can sew as close as you prefer to the zipper teeth, depending on how much of the tape you prefer to see in the end.

press layers away from zipper

Step 9:

Press both layers away from the zipper, being careful to press the area around the seam very flat as you will be topstitching there next.

topstitch zipper

Step 10:

Topstitch along the zipper seam through the outer layer, lining and zipper tape. I sewed mine at 1/4″ but you can topstitch where you prefer.

place zipper on lining

Step 11:

Place the other lining piece down on the table. Lay the zipper on top of the lining with the right side of the zipper up. The lining layers will be together under the outer layer.

place outer on zipper

Step 12:

Lay the remaining outer piece on top of the other outer piece, right sides together. Line up the top edge of the lining at the bottom of the pile with the outer fabric and the zipper tape. Pin the layers in place.

sew zipper

Step 13:

Just as you did on the first side, sew along the zipper at your chosen seam allowance. For consistency keep the measurement amounts the same so you can see the same amount of zipper tape on the right side of the bag when finished.

press away from zipper

Step 14:

Just as on the other side, press the lining and outer layers away from the zipper, being careful to press the topstitching area very flat in preparation for sewing.

topstitch zipper

Step 15:

Topstitch the second side as you did the first side, maintaining the same seam allowance as the first side.

open zipper halfway

Step 16:

Lay the piece down with the outer side up. Open the zipper about half way. This is so you can reach through later to turn the bag right side out.

open and pin sides

Step 17:

Open up the layers and fold them so the right sides of the lining pieces are together. Repeat so the right sides of the outer fabric are together. Pin in place on the sides and the bottom.

sew the sides

Step 18:

Sew along the two sides and the bottom of the bag on the outer fabric side. On the lining bottom, only stitch a bit on each side so that at least 3-4″ is left open for you to use to pull the bag right side out later. I chose to use a 1/4″ seam allowance, but you can use whatever you like based on how much you added in when drawing the pattern size.

sewn sides

Step 19:

Your piece should look like this at this point. Sides sewn, outer bottom sewn and the middle of the lining bottom left unsewn. The squares are not sewn yet either.

pin corners

Step 20:

Fold the corners so the raw edges line up together. Form a straight line and pin in place. At the seams, I prefer to fold one layer to one side and the other side’s seam allowance to the opposite side to reduce bulk.

sew corners

Step 21:

Sew the four corners at the same seam allowance you did for the rest of the bag.

turn the layers right side out

Step 22:

Reach your hand into the bottom of the lining and through the opening on the zipper. Turn the bag right side out through these holes.

pin the bottom hole

Step 23:

Fold the seam allowance in at the bottom of the lining and pin in place.

close up hole

Step 24:

Sew the opening closed at the bottom of the lining.

finished bag

Step 25:

Fold the lining into the bag and you’re finished! Well done!





what size does the fabric need to be? x

Marti Bowland

I don’t sew very often but I took a chance following your plans. I had to tear out a few stitch runs before I figured it out. I finished one and it’s turned out pretty well. I learned why you prefer the zipper to be longer than the finished project. I’ll go buy a fat quarter tomorrow and try a longer zipper to see if it improves the back side of the junction of the end of the zipper and all that fabric.If it goes well then my lady friends will be receiving makeup bags for Christmas. Thanks for a cute design.

Lisa bolden

I just loved how easy it was to make the makeup bag and would someday love to make a weekender bag like vera bradleys. That is my wish and dream which is a big one because I’m a new sewer. Love these easy directions.


How do you sew over the zipper if it is protruding? Everything else is so clear, but you didn’t address this issue.


Hi Rumata, I may be able to help. I just found this pattern and your question was posted a long while ago, but if you haven’t figured it out yet I will give it a go.
The way the pattern is put together, you should never have to sew over the zipper. Line your sewing foot along the edge of the zipper teeth to sew the layers together, sewing only on the zipper ribbon on each side. Should be lining, zipper ribbon, outer material layered then pinned and sewn 1/4 inch away from zipper teeth as mentioned above.


I have the exact same question as Rumata. I’m up to that point with my bag and am frightened to go any further for fear of stuffing it up. Especially since I’ve sewn on some cross stitchig patches I made. If I ruin it I’d have to start all over and my friend would miss out on their 21st birthday present. :O If some clarification in how the zipper was sewn in could be given, I’d be very grateful.


Hi Ethan, I gave a reply to help under Rumata’s post, though I know it was made a long time ago. I don’t know where the host is to this, but hopefully I can help.


can someone explain step 20 and 21?? I’m a beginner n well I’m getting confused! 😀


Hi, I replied sone instructions under Marilyn’s comment.


me too I need help with step 20 and 21!!!!!! One more picture would have been great…..Please someone answer I’m almost done!!!!


Hi Marilyn. I have made a tote bag with the same technique, and what you want to do is fold the two unsewn edges together with the bottom seam and a side seam cutting through them in the middle. So open the hole and squeeze the seamed bottom edge to the seamed side edge making those seams centered and lining up together creating a perpendicular edge. So again take the bottom seam near one of the holes, and line it up to the end of the side seam near it, this will make a new area to sew going perpendicular those two seams. Gosh I hope you can make sense of this 🙁 I need to video it, lol.

Lutisha Hill

I love the details. Will try it today for Christmas bags. Thanks

Heidi Bourcier

Hi Nicki – I’ve sewn many of these (my own designs) but zipper ends are such a pain, I’m always looking for different ways to do them. I came across your tutorial and it looks nice but you don’t have pictures or a description of how you get those danged zipper ends into the side seams. I think this is what Rumata was referring to – there’s just so many layers to sew through, especially when you’ve already topstitched the zipper sides all the way across – how do you get a neat corner?

N Salmon

Christine made this tutorial, but she has not looked at questions sadly. I too would like to know if the Zip is folded when stitching the sides- about to go for it. Then do the zip ends get cut ? 2 more photos would be good- but thanks for the tutorial Christine – the initial zipper tip seems good. Hope mine turns out ok X


I think that because the zipper is longer, it tucks down in between the lining and the outer fabric so you don’t have to worry about sewing it across, which is what some patterns suggest.

N Salmon

So I left my zipper folded when stitching along sides of lining and exterior – it does mean you end up with cut off corners by the zip, I decided to cut my zip before turning out, leaving about an inch each end- can’t see how to post a photo.

Overall I’m pleased with it- thanks so much X

So many ways to make a bag – Jenny at MSQC has one online too


Came here to see what the shape of the pattern would be since I know how to sew these types of bags. Happy to see that it was a very easy one! However, had I not known how to do this already, I would have been extremely confused by the instructions and I could see how others would be as well. If anyone out there wants to watch how it’s done (I’m a visual learner so it makes all the difference if I can watch the process as it’s happening) I’d recommend a quick search on YouTube for something like “diy triangle makeup bag” to help you figure it out, then return to this one. That being said, thank you for the tutorial because this little bag is absolutely adorable and now I’m off to my machine to make one! 🙂


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Reply