Saturday, August 11, 2012

DIY Cosmetic Bag - Purse Organizer

Look at all this junk I carry around! And that is only one part of the contents of my purse!

We have this thing in the family for Ziploc bags which we use as purse organizers! I am so sick of using them I have decided to be a tad more with the times and upgrade to the real deal! Here we have my daily assortment of medications which I must take with me. Notice the big improvement from one of my original posts on MGC where I had to take over 12 of them daily!
Here we have a great hand cream (Carmex Healing Lotion), a Hand Sanitizer for when I leave any store, my French refreshing mints, a Sally Hansen Collagen treatment lip balm (a must) and of course the meds with a coupon for my next Spiriva purchase.

Because I really could not find anything I liked in the stores, not to mention the asking price for what I did actually like, I have decided to use some of my leftover quilting fabric and make my own cosmetic bag/purse organizer. In essence, since I have used all recycled items or items I already  had on hand, this project cost me nothing, other than time of course, and it was a whole day project for me (but since I have no pretense as a seamstress or even a quilter, anyone with common sense and skills would knock this thing out in one afternoon!) Quilters beware, I do everything wrong (I am pretty sure of that!)

Here is what I used to make my cosmetic bag:

  • Two fat quarters in assorted designs/colors.
  • Quilter's batting (the synthetic kind)
  • A leftover Gros-Grain ribbon which had once wrapped a box of chocolates (still has the paper label attached to it). I keep all the ribbons that come to the house for future use such as scrapbooking or sewing projects.
  • Basic sewing kit includes, needle, threads, scissors, ruler and Velcro (I later opted for pressure snaps instead).

Here is the final project as a teaser:


I made side "souffles" and a flat bottom so that it
can stand on a table, if need be.

So here we go, I am going to try my best to give you all the instructions as I took pictures of pretty much all the steps in the process. The lighting may not be all that consistent, so as a result, colors will vary:

First I had to remind myself to iron the fat quarters. This is a dreaded task for me as I simply hate ironing. However, everything I know about sewing I taught myself through trial and error, and if you are new to this, my advice is IRON FIRST!

Once the fabric was ironed, I laid it flat and trimmed where needed (I have learned not to trust the store's measurements) and sure enough my two fat quarters were not identical. A fat quarter is supposed to measure 18' x 22'.

Once trimmed to identical sides, I folded the fabric in half (lengthwise) and cut along the fold. This gave me two sets of matching fabrics (9x22). I then decided which combination was best for my bag (dark cover/light lining or Light outer cover/darker lining).

I chose to keep the darker fabric for the outer cover (left side). Originally I was going to make a second bag using the reverse fabric but quickly realized I needed fabric for the souffles and the binding...

Time to add the padding and quilt the two pieces together!

I cut a single layer of quilter's batting and placed it in between the two layers of fabric...

With my quilter's ruler, I lined the lighter fabric using a pencil and created a crisscross pattern with parallel bands, 1 inch apart...Note that though it does not show in the pictures, the bands are not parallel to the edge of the fabric, I marked them in diagonal instead.

Using a straight stitch in a contrasting color (dark brown) I just went ahead and went over each line with my sewing machine. That was, by far, the hardest and longest task in this project. Remember to use pins to secure your layers together, otherwise your fabric will slide off and the result will be awful (I have learned the hard way).

Here is the quilting once completed...I think you can see the diagonal work better in this picture. Trim again, if needed, along the edges or where the batting may have been stretched.

To create the flat bottom for my cosmetic bag, I measured exactly 6 inches from the bottom of the fabric and made two lines, 1 inch apart (one at 6 in. and the other at 7 in. from the bottom) then used the machine to sew over with the same contrasting thread.

This is how I made the side "souffles" (I really do not know what they are called in English, so I apologize for that, it is pronounced sou-flay in French). Tell you what, let's just call them "extensions"!

I first cut two strips 2.5 in. wide of the same fabric...

Placing them right side out, I just went ahead and used the zigzag stitch all around...

I then hand stitched the bands along the side of my cosmetic bag...Leaving whatever was extra at the top, it can be trimmed later...

Here is the view from the inside of the bag...

On to the binding. If you do not know how to prepare a bias tape for binding, check out this post from an earlier project of mine: DIY iPad cover.

One thing I have learned is that binding is very tricky and unless you know how to sew well (which is not the case here) you probably will be better off doing it entirely by hand...And this is just what I did for this project, only because it was small enough. I also thought that for larger projects I would probably use the machine to sew one side of the binding to the quilt or fabric and then hand stitch the other side...Again, refer to my other post to learn how to make the bias tape.

Here is the binding, which I chose in the contrasting lighter fabric...

For the souffles extensions, I used the floral pattern and pretty much did the same thing, binding all around...

I then joined the top parts of the extensions together to reduce the width of the bag's opening: I did not want the bag to open to such a wide opening and by closing the top part of each sides it allows for the content/volume to remain the same while giving the bag a more structured look (I am hoping I am making sense here).

As mentioned earlier in this post, I originally thought of using Velcro for the enclosure, but later realized that I do not care for the sound of it, it is also a pain to sew on to pieces and it takes on all sorts of crumbs, dirt and what not when used a lot...Not very aesthetic to say the least! So I opted for pressure snaps instead and placed three on top of the flap.

As a final touch, I added the grosgrain ribbon to the front by stitching it right in the middle of the flap to make sure it would stay in place. Once the bow was made, I used a few stitches all around it to ensure all parts were secured to the flap. I did not want to have to retie the bow over and over.


Here is my cosmetic bag/purse organizer again, it is about 9 x 7 inches in size:

As you can see, all my loose stuff fits right in!

I like the design and the fabric, it has this retro 30s/40s look to it...

And to boot, it fits right into my everyday Vera Bradley (this is the Mandy design, but more on this and other purses in a later post!)

I am hoping you have liked this tutorial and that you were inspired to make yourself a similar cosmetic bag/purse organizer, it sure beats having junk all over, or better yet, a Ziploc pouch (I am officially Ziploc free! Yeah!)

Thanks for sharing and liking my post and blog on Facebook!


  1. A fabulous organiser and cosmetic bag, Sophia. It looks so pretty with the quilting, binding and bow and is totally practical, especially being able to stand up. Thanks for linking up @Threading My Way.

  2. Thank you Pam! I am looking forward to sharing more projects!

  3. Hi Sophia, I've featured your cosmetic bag today...

  4. thanks- nice idea. You know you can also make these bags with placemats- all quilting is done for you.

  5. This doesn't organize anything, all you did was make a bag. A bag for all the crazy naive crutches you need to deal with your irrational fears and reality.

    Good luck with your illness, I hope you have a real doctor and not some quack.

    I make this comment out of spite for being misled by Google for proper DIY organizers. Sorry, but I have to lash out somewhere :(

  6. Dear anonymous, What can I say in answer to your comment other than your anger was misplaced and truly uncalled for. If your issue is with Google misleading you into something you felt would be helpful to you, then Google was not directing you properly. My post however, is clearly for a DIY bag, and it is exactly that, a DIY bag for folks who, like me, enjoy crafting their own things for organizing their stuff. It is sad you felt the need to insult me in the process as I am really not sure what the intention was here. Obviously statements that require for you to apologize in the end need not to be made. That said, I still thank you for your input and feedback, I would love to take your suggestion of seeing a doctor for my ilness (whatever it is you have diagnosed here) if only I was not myself already in possession of several Psychology degrees. I am perfectly aware that I cannot and will not please everyone with this blog, such is life. Thank you, sincerely, Sophia, NJ.

  7. Thanks for putting your thoughts down in writing over here. I totally agree with your statement. Cosmetic Bags Manufacturer

  8. Thank you Sophia for the inspiration. I hadn't thought to make my own bag, I too being unimpressed with the selection out there, and the outrageous prices for those more to my taste. I really want to try this, and your directions and photos are excellent! You're a real inspiration, keep up the good work, we need more bloggers like you. We can read blogs all day long, but the blog that inspire us to action - these are the true gems.

    1. Thank you Geri, I am so glad you like it. If you do choose to make your own, I would love to see it!

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I welcome your feedback and comments. If you have a question or a specific request, do not hesitate, I am here to help! Thanks, S.

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