Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Pattern Road Test - A Travelling Beauty Case

I've been wanting to sew up the You Sew Girl Beauty Case pattern since it appeared in Homespun Magazine a few years ago. I remember my mum had a white beauty case when I was little and I loved to go through it and look at all of her make-up and stuff that was in it.

When the Passport range arrived from Northcott I knew that I had the perfect fabrics to finally sew up a sample of the case. The Vintage Camera fabric is a new favourite of mine and the Airmail Stripe from Clothworks works perfectly as the lining.

Beauty Case with my meagre make-up supplies
The multitude of pockets around the wall of the Beauty Case and in the lid create lots of spots to house make up or toiletries. It could also just as easily be used as a craft tote (as per the original pattern in Homespun).

I sewed this pattern using a Janome Memory Craft 4900 sewing machine. My machine has a needle down feature which is really helpful when attaching the top and bottom panels of the bag. I used the standard sewing foot and zipper foot that came with my Janome.

Nicole lists a Tailor's Awl and 18mm Clover Bias Binding Maker as optional equipment and I used both. The Tailor's Awl is very handy for holding pieces into place when sewing certain parts of the Beauty Case. Nicole adds in tips where this technique will help.

I used an Elna Ironing press for fusing the interfacing and wadding, it is quicker and gives a more even heat but you can also use a standard iron. We make a lot of bags and purses so the investment in a press has been a good one! 

All other equipment needed is standard - scissors, pins, etc.

Difficulty Rating
The Beauty Case is recommended for confident sewists (i.e. you can set a sleeve in, keep an even seam allowance, know your way around your sewing machine, etc).

The lid of the Case the first part to sew together. Pretty straight forward and easy at this stage.
Making the pockets, inserting the zipper and attaching the back hinge is also pretty easy. I used Vliesofix to hold the top and bottom pieces to the lining piece before basting them together. Nicole recommends using Quilt Basting Spray but I didn't have any so I improvised.

The side walls, the base, the lid and the hinge are all done up and ready for the final assembly. This is where the difficulty factor kicks in!
There are at least two layers of wadding, 3 layers of S320 interfacing, plus the fabric layers to sew through to attach the lid and base to the wall of the Beauty Case. Not only is it bulky, it is all curved. This is where having needle down function on your machine comes in really handy.

The raw seams are then hidden with bias binding which is quite fiddly to sew down. Nicole's instructions are very good at explaining the techniques to help you though all of this. As recommended in the pattern, I used my Tailor's Awl at this stage of the assembly and it was a really helpful tool because I could hold the binding right were I needed it to be while sewing. 
Persistence, practice and patience pay off! This would have to be one of the more challenging patterns from Nicole that I've sewn up but I am really proud of how my Beauty Case looks. It stands up beautifully, it has loads of pockets, it looks stylish and the effort was well worth it!
Front and back of the Beauty Case
If you are wishing to recreate my version of the Beauty Case here is a list of everything that I used:
Some brighter versions of the beauty case from the You Sew Girl blog post on the pattern release.

Have you made up this pattern, how did you find it?

- Ky


  1. Hello Ky,
    You mentioned seeing the design in Homespun and you've done a fantastic job on the bag - love the camera fabric. Any chance of sending me a pic or two and some words for inclusion in our Readers' Showcase pages please?
    Deputy Editor, Homespun

    1. Hi Elizabeth,

      I'd love to:) Can you email me so I have your email address. sales[@]

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