shannon leaderboard_Feb2017

Facebook Twitter Sew4Home RSS Feed Follow Me on Pinterest Instagram


Makeup Brush Roll-up Case with Secret Pocket

Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version

This is our second brush caddy design, the first one having held a firm place on our Most Popular list for several years. To change things up, we added a zippered pocket on the inside, allowing you to keep small tools, like tweezers or sharpeners as handy as all your brushes. Or, tuck in pocket-sized cosmetics or perfumes. A secure compartment is particularly great for traveling. 

You'll love our clever pocket construction that creates a pretty finish on all sides, but is so easy to install. 

We include a downloadable template for perfect rounded corners, although you could also use a small lid or juice glass.

Follow our recommendations for evenly divided slots to hold a dozen brushes. You can also adapt the sizes to best fit your own brush collection. 

There's a layer of iron-on vinyl protecting the entire base panel. You could also use a cotton laminate fabric, but iron-on vinyl is a nice option when you have a specific cotton fabric you  want to use for the best color and pattern match. The vinyl provides a wipe clean surface for the brushes to rest against. 

We chose fat quarters for our sample case, which was a fun way to get three perfectly coordinated fabrics. We show you how we effectively cut one fat quarter to yield both the ties as well as all the bias binding. 

This caddy would also work well to hold paint brushes, as well as knitting or crochet needles. Again, simply adjust the pocket divisions to match the tools.

The case finishes at approximately 18" wide x 9" high when flat and about " x 9" when folded. The area for the brushes is about 14½" and the zippered pocket is about 3½".

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

NOTE: Start with enough fabric to allow for a pretty fussy cut. Remember that many printed fabrics can be less-than-perfect when it comes to their motifs being 100% straight and true. With a small project like this, we found it easiest to cut patterns from semi-transparent paper (we used wax paper). You can then adjust the pattern on the motif until you get the best look possible. 

Getting Started

  1. Download the Makeup Roll Corner Template which will help you get a precise rounded corner. 
    IMPORTANT: This template is ONE 8½" x 11" pattern sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide line on the page to make sure your printout is the correct size.
  2. Cut out the template along the solid line. Set aside.
  3. From the fabric for the exterior and zippered pocket, fussy cut the following:
    ONE 18" wide x 9" high rectangle for the main panel
    ONE 3¾" wide x 9" high rectangle for the zippered pocket
    TWO 1" x 1½" rectangles for the zipper end tabs
    NOTE: If using a directional fabric with a bold motif as we did, take the time to get a pretty fussy cut. 
  4. From the fabric for the interior and brush pocket, cut the following:
    ONE 18" wide x 9" high rectangle for the base panel
    ONE 14¾" wide x 9" high rectangle for the brush pocket
  5. From the fabric for the binding and ties, cut the following:
    TWO 1" x 20" strips for the ties
    Cut enough 2" wide bias strips to equal at least 58" - 60" for the binding
    NOTE: As shown in the illustration below, in order to make the best use of our fat quarter of fabric, we cut slightly under a true 45˚ bias cut. It still worked wonderfully to accommodate the curved corners.

    As mentioned above, you can substitute pre-packaged bias tape for both the binding and ties in a coordinating solid if you prefer. For the ties, simply fold the binding and stitch closed.
  6. From the batting, cut ONE 18" x 9 " rectangle.
  7. From the interfacing, cut ONE 3¾" x 9" rectangle.
  8. From the iron-on vinyl, cut ONE 18" x 9" rectangle.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

  1. Press all your pieces flat. It is especially important that the interior base panel, to which the iron-on vinyl will be applied, has zero wrinkles. 
  2. We added our Sew4Home label to the exterior panel. If you'd like to add a label to your project, do it now. Place the label in the bottom right corner of the exterior panel approximately 2" in from the side and 2" up from the bottom. 
  3. Find the 18" x 9" interior base panel and the 18" x 9" iron-on vinyl. 
  4. Remove the paper from the vinyl, but don't throw it away. You can use it as a pressing cloth. 
  5. Following manufacturer's instructions, place the iron-on vinyl on the right side of the interior base panel. The edges of the two layers should be flush all around. 
  6. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the iron-on vinyl in place. Remember, you'll need to use the paper or another similar layer to protect the surface of your iron while fusing. 
  7. We pressed again from the wrong side of the fabric panel for extra security. 
  8. Find the inside pocket panel. Press this piece in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, so it is now 14½" x 4½".
  9. Assemble the interior layers in the following pattern: place the exterior panel right side down on your work surface, place the batting rectangle on top of the exterior panel, place the interior base panel (with the vinyl in place) right side up on the batting layer, then place the folded pocket piece on the very top, aligning the pocket's left raw edge and bottom raw edge with the base panel; the other layers will extend beyond the pocket by about 3½". Pin all the layers in place.
  10. Find the corner template. Pin the template at each corner and round, cutting through all the layers with your scissors. 

    Doing all the layers at once like this insures your edges are flush and will be easier and smoother to bind.
  11. Here's what it looks like with all the corners rounded. 
  12. Take out the pins. Remove and set aside the exterior fabric layer.
  13. Pin the remaining layers (batting, inside and inside pocket) back together.

Creating the brush pockets

  1. From your roll of wax or tissue paper, cut one 14" x 6" piece. Fold the paper in half to create a vertical center crease as a reference line. Unfold and lay the paper flat on your work surface.
  2. Working across the paper, measure and mark as many pockets as you'd like to best fit your brush set, dividing the 14" width evenly. 
  3. As shown in the drawing below, we chose two 2" pockets at the center of the panel with five 1" pockets to either side. 
  4. Pin the marked wax paper securely over the top of the pocket panel. The paper should be centered side to side, which means there will be ¼" of fabric extending beyond on the paper on each side. 
  5. To sew the pocket divisions, you can use matching or contrasting thread. We chose matching. We used a Ditch Quilting foot with the needle moved to the left for a super precise line. 
  6. Following the drawn lines on the wax paper, and sewing directly through the paper and all the fabric layers, stitch from the bottom raw edge to top folded edge of the pocket. Remember to secure your stitch at the start and the end. We chose a lock stitch, which is very neat and tidy. If you don't have a lock stitch function on your machine, back-tack very carefully or leave the thread tails long and hand knot to secure.
  7. Repeat across the entire width of the paper, stitching each seam from bottom to top. 
  8. Simply tear away the wax paper from the sewn seams when you're finished. 
  9. Set aside the interior layers.

Create and attach the zippered pocket

  1. Find the 3¾" fabric piece, the matching interfacing piece, the two zipper end tabs, and the zipper itself. 
  2. Place the interfacing on the wrong side of the fabric piece. The edges should be flush all around. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the interfacing in place.
  3. Place the interfaced piece right side up on your work surface. Measure 2" in from the left side and make a vertical slice.
  4. Fold back each 9" sliced edge ¼". Press in place. Set these two pieces aside.
  5. Find the zipper and end tabs. 
  6. Place one strip on each end of the zipper so the strip and the zipper are right sides together and the end of each strip is about ¼" from the raw end of the zipper tape. 
  7. Stitch the zipper tabs in place, running your seam just below the top and bottom zipper stops.
  8. Press the zipper tabs away from the zipper on each end. Open the zipper about half way.
  9. Pin a folded pocket piece to each side of the zipper. The slightly wider of the two pocket pieces goes on the left, the narrower on the right. Take the time to make sure each folded edge is the same distance to either side of the zipper teeth. Pin in place.
  10. Attach a zipper foot and topstitch along each side of the zipper. Re-thread the machine if necessary with thread to match the fabric in the top and bobbin. Again, make sure your seam is consistent along both sides. 
  11. You should now have panels stitched in place on either side of the zipper; the excess width should be neatly filled in with the zipper tabs.
  12. Place the interior base panel right side up and flat on your work surface. Place the zippered panel right side down over the pocket, aligning the left raw edge of the zippered panel with the right raw edge of the pocket. Pin in place.
  13. Using a ¼" seam allowance, stitch along the entire vertical edge of the zippered panel. We used our Janome Quarter Inch Seam foot.
  14. This vertical seam secures the right edge of the brush pocket panel and creates the left interior edge of the zippered pocket. 
  15. Fold the zippered panel out into position and press well. Remember to protect your iron from touching the iron-on vinyl. 
  16. Flip over the panel and round the corners of the zippered panel to match the base panel. 
  17. Layer the exterior and interior panels wrong sides together, aligning the raw edges all around. Pin in place through all the layers. 

Make and attach the narrow ties

  1. On one 20" x 1" strip, fold in each end ¼".
  2. Next, fold each side in ¼" so the raw edges meet in the middle – similar to a piece of double fold bias binding. We also clipped both ends at an angle so it wasn't so bulky.
  3. Fold the strip in half again, encasing the raw edges and aligning the long folded edges.
  4. Pin together and stitch one seam the length of the strip, starting and ending as close to each end as possible. 
  5. Repeat to create the second tie.
  6. Pin the ties side by side, overlapping just slightly, against the exterior fabric panel. The ties should be aligned at the center of the right side. Make sure you align the raw edges so the ties lay back across the fabric. 
  7. Machine baste the ties in place close to the raw edges.


  1. Collect your 2" bias strips and stitch them together at an angle to create one continuous length.
  2. Fold the strip in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press.
  3. Open the strip, wrong side up, so the crease line is visible.
  4. Fold each side towards the center crease and press.
  5. Fold again along your first crease, so the two folded edges align. You now have your very own double fold bias tape. It should finish at 1" flat or ½" folded. Press well to set the folds.
  6. Completely unfold one side of the binding and place it right sides together with the exterior.
  7. Starting at the middle of one side (we chose to start at the point where the ties are basted in place), stitch in the ditch of the binding crease around the entire perimeter.
  8. Wrap the binding up and over to the interior. The folded edge of the binding should just cover the first seam. Pin in place.
  9. Stitch the binding in place to secure and finish the ends using your favorite method. We used a simple overlap. We also switched back to our Ditch Quilting foot.

    If you are new to making and working with bias tape, read through our tutorial on the fascinating world of bias tape creation and application.
  10. We attached a ribbon through the zipper pull as a final touch. 
  11. The case naturally wants to fold into easy quarters. Simply fold, fold, fold, wrap the ties around once or twice, and make a pretty bow.


Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation: Leah Wand


Comments (4)

iknithappy said:
iknithappy's picture

Another hit with us! My daughter and I are going to make these for her friends for christmas presents. Thanks again!!!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ iknithappy - you're hitting the jackpot today. Have fun... they're are hundreds more 

Lanetta said:
Lanetta's picture

I love this and plan to make a lot of them.  A store in my area was closing and they had the fat quarters on sale for $.50 and I bought tons of them so now I have something to do with all of them.  I am going to use this ideal to make a roll-up case for my friends that crochet.  It would be a great space hold their crochet needles and the zipped pocket will allow them to store yarn needles or maybe even a small pair of scissors. 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Lanetta -- ohhhh - you'll have fun with these. And, yes, we actually mention above how well this would work for crochet or knitting needles as well as paint or other art brushes. 

Add new comment

*Sew4Home reserves the right to restrict comments that don’t relate to the article, contain profanity, personal attacks or promote personal or other business.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.