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Saturday, 3 December 2016

Free Pattern/Tutorial: 36¢ Lip Balm Carrier in 5 Minutes

5 Minute Lip Balm Carrier by eSheep Designs
You can make one of these in five minutes... truly!
Yes, I know.

This is probably the gazillionth lip balm thingamajig tutorial to appear.

I'd be surprised if you've never seen these before, but perhaps you haven't seen them made out of anything other than traditional fabric.

So I am presenting a new twist on an old idea.

Oh, and did I mention that they're fast and cheap to make?

This is normally a fabric scrap project, but I am not a big fan of sewing tiny finished seams and then maybe turning awkward little items right side out... which is invariably required when making these out of fabric. Use materials not normally prone to unravelling, however, and the seams can be left unfinished.

It then truly becomes a five minute project. And what's not to like about that, right?

5 Minute Lip Balm Carrier by eSheep Designs
Back view of the 5 Minute Lip Balm Carrier...

All you need is an 8" strip of 1.5" wide ribbon, vinyl or laminate fabric (read on for sourcing suggestions) and some hardware. I used an economical combo of split rings (mine were 7/8" size; $1 for a bag of 10 from the Dollar Store) and small lobster clasp swivel clips (eBay purchase of $1.57 for 10).

That also means it can be a very frugal project, and I know a lot of people definitely like that! I'm not exaggerating the cost in the title of this post. My hardware cost was 26¢ per unit. I'm pretty sure you can wrangle up an 8" x 1.5" piece of whatever for 10¢ or less.

eSheep Designs
Hardware choices... what do you think of my organizer?? 

Others have made these with large swivel clips (like the one in the picture above left) and key fob clamps (above center), but they seem like unnecessarily expensive options for a simple project like this. If you go my route (split ring and swivel clip, above right), just make sure the lobster clasp opens up wide enough to meet your needs as to where you want to clip it.

Grab some coordinating thread and you're off to the races.

Upcycle, Re-purpose and Reclaim

You may have things around your house that can make this project really cheap. For instance, about three years ago, I bought this vinyl placemat for $1.

Dollar store placemat
A dollar store placemat...

I no longer recall what I was planning on making with it, so what better purpose than this project? The piece that you see here has enough material for sixteen of these little guys. There you go: proof of the 36¢ cost point.

The black/white/grey ribbon came from Michaels; got it with a 50% off coupon last year (net $4.46) with the intention of perhaps making a wallet out of it. (Last seen on the handle of my Retro Reticule "proof of concept" bag.) Ribbon is comparatively more expensive than these other alternative materials, but sometimes you can score well in discount bins.

And do you remember where I got this?

Vinyl reclaimed from an old purse
I knew I'd find a use for this old piece...

This vinyl backed fabric is from the exterior of the little crossbody purse (originally purchased for $2) that I redid in waxcloth after the original suffered some water damage. (Our local Dollar Stores were also selling placemats with the same design at one point.) It got very nicely repurposed here!

Other materials that you might have on hand that you can try? Ripstop nylon, faux or real leather... basically anything that is relatively sturdy and doesn't fray around the edges. (The piece of ripstop nylon shown below came from the remnants of my hubby's winch cover.)

non fraying fabrics
Three other kinds of materials that you can use for this project...

Actually, even if you do need to finish off the edges slightly (as I had to do with my reclaimed purse vinyl) you can just zigzag/satin stitch around the perimeter.

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Make it in 5!

This is super easy, really. (Time yourself, see if you even need five minutes.) I will demonstrate using the strip of faux leather.
  • Cut an 8" x 1.5" strip of whatever material you are using (if your material might be prone to fraying, sew all the way around it using a tight zigzag stitch)
  • Fold one end under by 1.5" and the other end by 0.5"
5 Minute Lip Balm Carrier by eSheep Designs - Step 1
My little seam ruler doesn't show very accurately,
but the folds are supposed to be half an inch on one end and one and a half inches on the other...
  • Place the split ring through/under the 1.5" fold as shown
5 Minute Lip Balm Carrier by eSheep Designs - Step 2
Slide hardware into place under the larger fold...
  • The material around the sides of the ring should collapse inwards as you tug on the ring; help it along with your fingers and then clip to hold
5 Minute Lip Balm Carrier by eSheep Designs - Step 3
Push in along the sides of the ring to create a symmetrical look and then clip...
5 Minute Lip Balm Carrier by eSheep Designs - Step 3
This is the outcome that you're aiming for...
  • Bring the other end up and over to create an overall length of 3.5"; clip well — particularly at the sides of the opening — in preparation for sewing
5 Minute Lip Balm Carrier by eSheep Designs - Step 4
Almost ready to sew...
  • Sew along both edges with an approximate 1/8" seam allowance (this will give the lip balm a snug fit) — a stiletto helps a lot when you get near the ring
5 Minute Lip Balm Carrier by eSheep Designs - Step 4

So did that take you more than five minutes? If yes, then I'm willing to bet the next one won't.

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I'd like to give credit where credit is due for the inspiration behind this project. I was searching images for lip balm holders and came upon The Ribbon Retreat's version — using ribbon, of course. Realizing the advantage of ribbon, it didn't take long for me to identify other alternative fabrics and materials that would work just as well... and much more cheaply.

5 Minute Lip Balm Carrier by eSheep Designs
Faux leather and old purse vinyl versions... can you see where I zig-zagged the edges?

With Christmas three weeks away, you still have plenty of time to make these for stocking stuffers.

5 Minute Lip Balm Carrier by eSheep Designs
Lip balm carrier hanging from a zipper...
If you know anyone like me, this is a simple gift that will be well received. My lip balm of choice (ever since I was a teenager) are Lip Smackers. I have one beside my computer, one attached to my "going for a walk" key ring, one in my purse, one on an end table beside the couch, and one in my makeup tray. These little carriers will make it easier for me to get quick access to them inside (or outside, as seen here) a purse... I've already put three of them to use.

Every Christmas I see new Lip Smacker gift packs for which I judiciously wait to go on sale in January. I'm needing a new supply in 2017!

Like it? Want to keep it? For a copy of this tutorial in PDF format, download it for free here!


  1. I'm definitely going to make a few of these, Rochelle. I am one of those people who always have lip balm nearby or in my pocket. it drives me crazy when I have to dig around in my purse for that little tube...no more! thanks!

  2. Wow those look like fun! I have seen similar ones, but never made any yet. You got me thinking....maybe using wool and hand embroidery stitches for mine. Thanks Rochelle!

  3. Was just thinking these could be a good way to teach young ones to sew...by hand. A cute blanket stitch around the perimeter in a contrasting color. Could be made as a girl scout project to donate. Hmm... Got my wheels turning now.

    1. Happy to have inspired you today! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.


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