Zipped Cylinder Toiletry Bag Tutorial

I made these toilet bags with a particular use in mind. I wanted a small bag to take away on holiday to hold my face cleanser, toner, moisturiser and cotton wool balls.  So I made this bag cylindrical to stand up the 3 bottles in, with the top section as a drawstring pouch to hold the cotton wool balls.

The inside of the bag is made with rip-stop nylon, so any accidental spills can easily be wiped off.

So here's the tutorial:

You will need:
Outer fabric - around fat quarter size
Inner fabric - around fat quarter size
Zip - at least 30cm (11.75")
Cord for drawstring - 35cm (13.75")
Toggle for drawstring

Main bag part - 1 inner, 1 outer fabric 35 x 18cm (13.75 x 7")
Top bag part - 1 inner, 1 outer fabric 35 x 11cm (13.75 x 4.25")
Drawstring inner part - inner fabric 37 x 11cm (14.5 x 4.25")
Strap - outer fabric 25 x 8cm (10 x 3.25")
Zip end covers - 1 inner, 1 outer fabric 6 x 4cm (2.5 x 1.5")
End circles - 2 inner, 2 outer fabric 11cm (4.25") diameter 
(click here for the circle template!)

1. Inner drawstring part.

Take the inner fabric piece 37 x 11cm (14.5 x 4.25")
Double fold both short edges in and stitch:

Then double fold one of the long edges, one fold to hide the raw edges, the other to make the casing for the drawstring; then stitch.

Finally fold in half lengthways and stitch up to but not through the casing.

2. Strap

Take the outer fabric strap part ( 25 x 8cm (10 x 3.25"))
Fold it lengthways, both edges towards the centre, then again both folded edges together so the raw edges are hidden. Then top-stitch down both sides.

3. Top part of the bag

Take the inner and outer pieces of fabric for the top of the bag
 (35 x 11cm (13.75 x 4.25"))
and 1 end circle of each fabric:

Fold the rectangles in half lengthways, right sides together, and pin then stitch.

Now you need to pin the circles to these pieces.

Take your inner fabric first.
Mark quarter points of each circle with pins.
To do this fold the circles in quarter and place a pin in each fold:

When you open your circle out it should look like this:

Then mark 4 evenly spaced pins on the other piece. One will be the seam you just stitched, the other on the folded edge opposite that:

Then fold in half the other way, this time with the pin and the seam together. Press the fabric flat and place a pin in both folds:

Then pin the circle to the top of this piece - matching the 4 pins on each part:

Stitch around the circle - but LEAVE AN OPENING between two of the pins. 
This is important to enable you to turn the bag out after you attach the inside and outside together!
Make sure you place the fabrics right sides together when you pin!

Repeat this with the same outer pieces of fabric.
But this time pin the strap in place together with the circle.
Fold the strap in half first.
The strap needs to be pinned to the right sides of the fabric - 
NOT like I pinned mine in this photo!! 
(sorry forgot to take a photo the right way)

Now you need to add the drawstring part you made first to the upper inner section of the bag.

Place the raw edges of both together - pin and stitch into place.

4. The zip

Take your zip and mark both edges of 30cm (11.75") along it like this:

Now take the two zip end covers (6 x 4cm (2.5 x 1.5"))

Fold the 2 shorter side edges under and stitch 
(to hide the raw edges)

Now pin and stitch these edges to the front and back of one side of the zip where you marked:

Trim the end of the zip under the covers - and the other end of the zip past your 30cm (11.75") mark:

Now loop the zip around on itself (make sure it's not twisted at all) and lining it up with the other end of the zip under the end covers, pin then stitch into place:

Then trim the edges of the covers in line with the edges of the zip.

Now to put the top parts and the zip together:

First take the inner piece which now has the drawstring part attached.
Keep this inside out with the drawstring part tucked inside:

Then slip the outer piece of fabric - right side out, inside this:

Then finally slip your circular zip in between these two layers, with the right side of the zip (and the outer fabric of the end cover) facing the right side of the outer fabric.

Pin then stitch all around the top.

Then turn this all right sides out through the opening in the base of the inner fabric:

5. Main Bag Part

Take your main bag fabric pieces and the remaining circles:

Pin and stitch these pieces as you did with the top parts in step 3.
Remembering to still leave a gap in the inner fabric to turn the bag right sides out at the end.
This time I chose to leave the gap in the side of the rectangular part seam, but the base would work ok too.

Now take the top part of the bag and open the zip the whole way:

Take the bottom outside part of the bag (inside out) and push this top part inside of that:

This means the two right sides of the outside fabric should be facing each other like this:

Then take the inner part of the main bag and with right side facing outwards push this inside the top part of the bag:

Then pin around the top of the whole bag.

Then stitch around the whole top where you have pinned:

Now you can turn the whole bag right sides out through the gap you left in the inner fabric.

Then you need to hand-stitch the openings closed in the inner sections of the bag:

6. The drawstring and toggle

Finally you need to thread your drawstring cord through the casing you made. To do this, pin the end of the cord onto a large safety pin or nappy pin and push the cord all the way through the casing.

Then take your toggle, push both ends of the cord through it and tie a knot to stop the ends slipping back through.


Fill with toiletries..

And hang up in your bathroom..

Or take away on holiday..

For the free downloadable PDF version of this tutorial, click here.

I've since made a giant version of this bag as an insulated picnic bag - so see that post, including the measurements and materials, 

If you liked this tutorial , there are lots more sewing tutorials for all sewing levels and abilities on 


  1. Holy cow -- that is awesome!!! I can't wait to make one!!!!!

    1. Thanks Niki! Have fun sewing - and do send a picture if you make one - I'd love to see!!

  2. Wow! These looks so awesome, Jill! So practical for travel bag. Thanks so much for the great, great tutorial!
    Have a fabulous week!
    Hugs from Portugal,

    Ana Love Craft

  3. Hello. A question for sewing for dummies (me) LOL. What are fat quarter sizes? :-)

    1. Ha! There was me thinking I was the last to learn that! It's about 50 cm (20") square!!

    2. Hi Jill. Thank you. :-). I'll try it this weekend and let you know how it goes. :-). Thank you.

    3. No worries!! Hope it all works out - let me know if anything is unclear, and I'd love to see a picture when you're done!!

  4. great idea for toiletry bag, Jill!!!very good tutorial!Well done!
    I'll try to make one too ;)
    big hugs

    1. Thanks Anastasia! Let me know if you make one - would love to see!

  5. Here from the Meandering Monday's hop and you've been pinned! And Google+. This is a great tutorial, and can be sized for so many other things!! I was thinking colored pencils/markers on top with paper/coloring books on bottom for the grandbabies... keep up the great posts; I'll be back. BB2U

    1. Thank you!!!!! Yes - these bags would also be great for pencils etc! Good idea!

  6. Okay -- I made the bag this morning and had a blast doing it. Can't wait to try it again. Here is a link to where I blogged about it:

    Great tutorial -- keep it up!!

    1. Wow! That was fast Niki! It looks GREAT! Have featured it on my facebook page! Thanks for the great review - so glad the tutorial was easy to follow!

  7. Must try these what a detailed and well written tute. Awesome post Jill x

  8. How cool, this is a great idea :)

    Thanks for sharing with us at Creative Mondays...

  9. Fun fabrics, nice tutorial! You provided wonderful pics and directions. Like the drawstring section inside! HAPPY AUgust :)

    1. Thank you so much - and Happy August to you too! :)

  10. Very clever idea to have a drawstring in the lid, Jill. Pinning this...

  11. great tutorial. The perfect bag for weekend away ( for our grandchildren) Thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop xo

  12. I love this. I sew a lot so I've got to try this. Excellent tutorial
    Thanks for sharing at our Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop.


  13. I forgot to say your blog is awesome and I'm your newest Bloglovin follower. Can't wait to see more.
    Angel. Sewcraftyangel

  14. Wow, what a great tutorial. these little pouches are perfect when traveling. I would use them for those few things that I worry might leak. Thanks for sharing on BeColorful this week.

  15. Great tutorial! Thanks so much for linking it up to our All Things Thursday Blog Hop last week. Hope you'll be back tomorrow night to bring more great projects to the party!

  16. Hi Jill, thanks for the creative DIY bag, I'm sure will make one for my cousin.

    Easton Personalized Toiletry Bags

    1. Thanks Ramzshine - would love to see a picture if you do make one!


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