Saturday, December 29, 2012

DIY: Makeup Brush Case

Whenever I go traveling, I always stuff my makeup brushes into a ziploc bag, which mushes the brushes and spreads my makeup onto the other brushes...but no more!

I now have a functional and cute case to store them in! Deborah Moebe's book, Stitch by Stitch, has a tutorial on how to make a picnic placemat, and I modified her instructions to make a laminated makeup brush case. I wanted to line my case with a plastic lining so that it can be cleaned easily, but I couldn't find any laminated fabric with a cute design at Jo Ann's and I was too impatient to order it online, so I used a shower curtain! It's a lot cheaper that way too, and mildew and bacteria resistant! Perfect!

The instructions below will be how I made the orange case, but I'll list out how I modified them to make the black cases. (see modification notes within the steps).

1/2 yard of fabric for the case
- 2  1/4 yard (2.1 m) of 3" wide continuous bias tape (for the edges)
- shower curtain (for the plastic lining)
- fabric scissors/rotary cutter
- pins
- matching thread
- chalk/disappearing ink pen
- ruler

Not pictured:
- iron
- straw (for making the ties to close the case)
- kabob stick (for making the ties to close the case)

1. Cut out two 18" x 18" squares of the patterned fabric using the selvage edge as a guide. Then, cut out one
18" x 18" square of the shower curtain.

(See Modification #2) 

2. With the ugly/wrong sides of the patterned fabric together, and the plastic lining on top, pin the fabric together and stitch along all 4 edges with a 3/8" seam allowance. Note: Since you'll be pinning the plastic lining, pin within the seam allowance, so you won't see any holes.

 3. With the plastic lining side up, fold up the bottom edge. Later, this will become the pocket for the brushes.   This step is to pin the bias tape to the edge of the pocket. For directions on how to make bias tape, see my former post, DIY: Bias Tape.

4. Open up one fold of the bias tape and pin it to the edge of the pocket. Trim off the excess bias tape.

5. Pin only to the pocket, and not including the back of the makeup brush case.

6. Using the fold as a guide, stitch the bias tape in place. Make sure to remove the pins beforehand!

7. Now that the bias tape is sewed onto one side, fold it over the raw edge onto the other side and pin it in place. You can press the bias tape (on very low heat and quickly) before you pin, or skip the pressing step if you're afraid you're going to melt the plastic lining.

8. Stitch very close to the edge to secure the bias tape in place. Deborah Moebes stitches the bias tape in place with a method she calls, "Stitching the Ditch" where she turns the project over to the side that is already stitched, and stitches onto the seam, hiding the new stitches in the "ditch". I tried this here and sometimes it didn't catch the bias tape on the other side, so it can be a little messy when you try to fix it. Personally, it doesn't bother me to just stitch closely to the edge of the fabric we just pinned.

9. Now with the plastic lining side up, fold up the bottom edge to form the pocket for the brushes. Here, I folded up 5.25", which in hindsight I think is too deep. I would advise taking your shortest brush and using that as a guide for how deep to make your pocket.

(See Modification #3) 

10. Turn your case around so that the pocket is at the top. Now we will attach bias tape to the remaining 3 edges of the case, the same way we had done for the pocket. Leave about an inch hanging off at the beginning. Unfold one edge of the bias tape and pin it along the edge of  the case lining up the raw edges. Here, I pinned it to the right edge of the case.

11. Stitch down one side until you are 5/8" (the width of the bias tape fold) away from the edge and back stitch.

(See Modification #4) 

12. Fold the tail end of the bias tape over to the right so it forms a diagonal line to the corner. Then, holding that diagonal part in place, fold the tape over to the left and pin the tape in place lining up the raw edges.

13. Once you've finished stitching the 2nd edge, repeat this for the 3rd and last side of the case. Trim the excess bias tape so there's about an inch of excess tape.

Making the Ties
14. Now use the same fabric used for the bias tape to make the ties, which will tie your makeup case closed. You can also use ribbon for this. I preferred the cloth ties to make it more durable. Cut out one strip of 24" x 1  1/2" fabric.

(See Modification #5)

15. Fold the strip in half lengthwise.

16. Stitch along the edge with a 2/8" seam allowance.

17. Stitch one edge closed.

18. They have special tools to turn long tubes inside out. I used a straw and a kabob stick to do this. Slide the entire tube onto the straw.

19. Then, from the closed side of the tube, using the kabob stick, push down the fabric into the straw. Push all the way through and your tube will turn inside out. Be careful not to push too hard or you might rip your seams out. If that happens, you can just stitch them closed again.

20. Press the tie to get the creases out.

21. Hand stitch the other open end closed.


22.  Now we have to stitch the bias tape to the other side of the case. Turn the case over to the other side so the pocket/plastic side is face down. At the top where there is excess bias tape, fold over the edge like so, and pin in place.

23. When you get to the bottom, fold up and pin.

24. You want to make sure that you pin your ties in place. I pinned my ties to the right side of my project. Fold your tie in half, and pin it under the bias tape to one of the edges. My ties ended up being kind of high in placement when it's all rolled up, so you might want to test it out all rolled up to figure out the best placement.

25. Stitch along the edge to secure the bias tape in place.

26. Gather your makeup brushes and slide them into the pocket to see how many brushes you can fit.

27. I decided I wanted some bigger "slots" on the left, and then some skinnier slots on the right. This was my amateur way of determining how big each slot should be. Then, I drew a line to mark each slot.

(See Modification #6)

28. Stitch along each of the lines making sure to back stitch at the top and bottom.

There you have it! It took me a really long time the first time, but by the 3rd time it didn't take too long from start to finish. It went from 10 hours, to 4 hours, to 2 hours! Practice does make perfect!

The following list are modifications to the steps above to make the black cases shown in the title picture above and below. The black cases were smaller in size and had a thinner bias tape edge. Throughout the steps above, I list out which steps were modified with (See Modification #_)

  1. Instead of making 3" bias tape, for the black makeup brush cases, I made 1.75" bias tape. Then, I folded and pressed in the edges by 3/8" in. each to make 1" bias tape. When sewed onto the edges of the project, it creates a 1/2" border. 
  2. Instead of cutting two 18" x 18" pieces of the patterned fabric, I cut one 14" x 14" piece of patterned fabric, and another 14" x 14" piece of the black fabric.
  3. For the makeup brush pocket, I folded up 3.5" instead of 5.25". I found that 5.25" was too tall for my shorter brushes.  
  4. When stitching the bias tape to the edge of the case, stitch down until you are 3/8" away from the edge, not 5/8"
  5. For the ties, instead of using the black bias tape material, I used the patterned fabric for a little pop against the black backing.
  6. For the brush slots, the bigger slots were 1.75" wide, and the skinnier slots were 1 1/4" wide.



  1. Wow, these look so great! I especially love the black one with the chevron pattern... super cute. :) Ahhh if only I could sew!

  2. Thanks Misono! I can teach you how to sew! The hardest part is learning how to thread a machine and sew in a straight line. Thankfully, the magnetic seam guide can help us with that!