How to Sew a Travel Paintbrush Case

Today I’ll show you how to sew cute little paintbrush case that will protect your watercolor brushes from getting damaged or squished in your bag–whether you’re traveling across the country, or just walking downtown to the park for an afternoon of sketching.


Case Dimensions and Seam Allowance

The final case dimensions are 9″ by 3.5″, with the seam allowance at 1/4″ (but of course you can always make adjustments to accommodate your brushes or preferences).

Step One: Cut Out Your Pieces

Here are the pieces you’ll need to cut:

  • A – 19.5″ x 4″ from EXTERIOR fabric
  • B – 5.5″ x 5.5″ from EXTERIOR fabric
  • C – 10.5″ x 4″ from LINING fabric
  • D – 9.5″ x 4″ from LINING fabric 
  • E – 9″ x 3.5″ from CARDBOARD, twice
  • F – 1″ x 3.5″ from CARDBOARD


Step Two: Making the Brush Sleeves

Hem the square (piece B) along one side, by turning the right side of the fabric to the wrong side 1/4″ and pressing it with an iron. Fold it over just the same way a second time, and press again. Then you’re ready to sew it in place. If you are hand sewing, I suggest using the blind hem stitch here.


With right sides of the fabric facing up, place the piece you have just hemmed (piece B) on top of piece C and line up one of the raw edges perpendicular to the sewn edge (as shown in Fig. 1) and pin together (remember to line up the bottoms, too). Sew 1/4″ from the edge.

Next, pin the following side as show in Fig. 2.


Now we’re going to need our paintbrushes. I’ve found it easiest to pin sleeve pockets around the paintbrushes (Fig. 3 above, and as shown in the photo below). That way, you’ll be sure they’ll fit!


To make it easier to sew the pockets in a straight line, get out a ruler and a sewing pen with disappearing ink, and draw them right along the row of pins. Alternatively, you could use a piece of paper tape as a guide.

Sew each of the pockets, and the right edge.

Step Three: Attach the Sleeves to Piece A

With the wrong sides facing out, sew the bottom of the sleeves to the bottom of the exterior fabric (piece A), 1/4″ from the edge.

Step Four: Sew A Button Loop

For this step, you’ll need some embroidery thread. Tie a knot at the end of your thread, and pull it from inside to outside. Make a loop about 2.5″ in length with the thread, and repeat 3 times (Fig. 4). Pull the thread to the outside to make the first knot (Fig. 5, 6, and 7). Keep tying knots around the entire loop, then pull the thread to the inside of the fabric and cut.


Your finished loop should look something like this:


Step Five: Sew Up the Seams

Fold the sleeves back towards the right side of the exterior (piece A) again. You should have both wrong-sides of the fabric facing outwards at this point. Lay piece D on top of piece A opposite to piece C (the sleeves), as shown in Fig. 8.


Pin the exterior edges of pieces C and D to those of piece A. You’ll notice that C and D will overlap a little in the middle. Fold them back so they’re even, and press with a hot iron. The space between them we’ll leave open until after we’ve slipped in the cardboard.

Sew 1/4″ around the remaining three edges you’ve just pinned. Trim the corners, then turn the whole thing right-side out, and push the corners square with the end of a paintbrush.

Step Six: Tape the Cardboard Pieces Together

Using masking tape, or duct tape, or whatever kind of tape you have around, tape the cardboard pieces together leaving just 1/8″ or so of space between them. I found it easiest to lay the tape sticky-side up on the table, and set the cardboard on top of it. You’ll want to cover the cardboard all the way around with tape. Press the tape together in the gaps.


Step Seven: Inserting the Cardboard

Now it’s time to slip the cardboard into the case through the slit we left back in step five. It’s going to be a little bit tricky, because you’ll have to fold the two large pieces of cardboard (pieces E) flat. When folded, one side of the cardboard will stick out farther than the other due to that middle piece (piece F), so make sure that you insert the longer side (pieces E + F) into the longer side of the sleeve!

Use the invisible stitch to sew together the slit.

Step Eight: Sew on a Button

Before you mark where the button will go, be sure to fill up the case with whichever brushes you intend to carry in it, since they’ll affect the depth of the case. Then pull the loop over the top cover, and sew on your button to hold it.

Now you’re done your paintbrush case!

It should look something like this:


I’m quite happy with how mine turned out. 🙂 If you give this project a try, I’d love to see a photo! Drop a link in the comments, or just use hashtag #paperfrosttutorial on Instagram, and I’ll check it out.

One last thing—if you’re new to watercolor, you might be interested in my new watercolor workshop for beginners! It’s 100% free, and covers everything you need to know to get started.


2 thoughts on “How to Sew a Travel Paintbrush Case

  1. Natasha says:

    Cute! I’ve been meaning to make myself a paintbrush case for ages, but have never gotten around to it. Last month I flew with my brushes inside a paper towel tube to protect them! This seems way nicer and more useful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kait Wiebe says:

      Haha, well that works! 🙂 This case won’t fit all my brushes, so I made a larger one with pockets on both sides that can (for storage at home). It has a zipper all around it, which was tricky, so I was fumbling along learning as I went, but perhaps at some point I’ll perfect the method and share the tutorial for that version as well!

      Liked by 1 person

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