The humble make up bag

Oh the places you’ll go…

The lined, zip fastened pouch, is an underestimated project if ever there was… easily overlooked as a basic beginners project, but this can only be the case at first glance.

Join me in celebrating the humble make up bag and the sewing journey it will take YOU on:

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!”
Dr. Seuss, Oh the Places You’ll Go

When I teach my beginners sewing course, each participant leaves with an understanding of how their machine operates and having practised the basic functions & techniques; and this is achieved through each new sewist making a lined, zip fastened pouch.

But why this project?

Firstly, it can be made using 100% cotton; keeping the cutting, construction and sewing as easy as possible.

Secondly, it’s small enough to achieve within the class timeframe, but without being a fiddly make.

Thirdly and most importantly, I can teach a multitude of techniques that will help with their machine confidence and ALL of their future projects; would you believe that all of these are included in this little make…

  • pattern cutting
  • introducing basic dressmaking terminology
  • stabilising
  • pinning
  • changing the presser foot
  • zip insertion
  • straight stitching using given seam allowances
  • pivoting
  • changing stitch length
  • top stitching
  • following pattern instructions to the letter, without necessarily being able to visualise the outcome of the construction

Finally, consider the multitude of uses this make has! Everyone leaves the workshop with a practical bag, the pattern & experience to create it over and over without becoming easily bored; change up the fabric colour and patterns, experiment with the dimensions and you have yourself any number of the following…


Before you know it, you’re working with your first TNT (tried & true) pattern! And what do you do with TNT patterns?! You PLAY!!

Having made the pouch a few times, confidence grows; and with confidence comes creativity.

Pretty quickly, you’ll be looking at ways to personalise these fab little bags; you’ll look to the ever growing pile of cuttings from the previous editions made and you’ll start scrap busting; before you know it, you’ll be colour blocking, patch working, pattern matching; each requiring you to improve your measuring and cutting techniques, constantly encouraging you to think ahead to the next step of your project.

You’ll be adding contrasting pockets on the front of the bags, as well as the inside. How about a little label to tell everyone it’s handmade! Boxed corners on the next one perhaps?!

You’ll realise what cute personalised gift these make, sustainable too and you won’t want to keep them for yourself.

This is when you start experimenting with the decorative stitch settings on your machine; changing your presser foot, dropping the feed dogs for some free motion; you’ll be adding monograms and appliquéing without even realising it.

And that’s all still using single layer cotton; keep building up by changing the weight of the fabric; add wadding for a quilted finish and you’ll want to try a walking foot and seam guide; Denim, Upholstery Weight, Oil Cloth, Faux Leather, Canvas backed Vinyl will all give your finished make a more structured, durable finish and at the same time you’l building on your knowledge of what needle is required or trying a teflon presser foot next, searching for the best finish on your…


Then there’s the hardware! Look out, you’re going to need an eyelet punch, scissors that aren’t for your fabric, possible some pliers (I know!)… The finished look of each of your bags will be unique and increase in professionalism as you start on your hunt for zips – contrasting in colour, chunky teeth, metal, invisible, long length zips encasing three side of your pouch! You’ll note all of the embellishments available, the beads, metallic threads, sequins and you’ll start to think about the finishes touches easily made at home too – buttons, pompoms, ribbon tassels.

It’s got you thinking about the direction your sewing journey is heading in next, hasn’t it? Want to get started? Join me at Sew Something, Northampton UK to make your first make-up bag and see where thus humble make takes you!

Bookings can be made via | by calling 01604 626998 | or popping into the store 243 Wellingborough Road, Northampton NN1 4EH UK

Beginner Sewing Workshop dates for 2020 include:

  • Thursday 19th March
  • Saturday 25th April
  • Thursday 21st May
  • Saturday 13th June
  • Thursday 16th July
  • Saturday 12th September
  • Thursday 15th October

Events listed on

Look out for my forthcoming tutorial on how to transform this make into a classy clutch bag with a magnetic clasp, coming soon…

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