Friday, May 27, 2016

Pocket Tote

If you've been here before you know I love to have quick projects to work on in between making quilts.  I recently made another bag using a free pattern on the Make it Coats website, the Pocket Tote.  The bag is designed by Melissa Peda of 100billionstars.  It's on the smaller size for a tote bag, finishing at 10" x 4" x 12".  It's a great pattern for using half yard cuts of fabric, and it's pretty quick to make.  I made several modifications to the pattern, including a different construction method for the pockets and a different finish for the top of the tote.

This is going to get a little long, but I hope you try to make this tote bag and that my notes and pictures help you...

For this tote I used ready made handles instead of following the directions included in the pattern. The handle length in the pattern is a little short for my liking so I would lengthen them according to what you are comfortable with.  The bag is smaller, so the handle length indicated is nice for just holding the bag in your hand, but it would be tough to put it on your shoulder.

At step 3, I did not use Decor Bond for lining the pockets, I used Shape Flex 101 instead for a softer finish.

At step 4, the way the pattern is written, the inside edge of the pocket would have a raw edge, and the fabric handles would be visible inside the pocket.  I decided to add the handles onto the pocket fabric and then use a sleeve to enclose the handles and make the inside of the pocket against the main panel finished.  Here's how I did it.

Attach the handles to each pocket fabric piece and baste in place.

Fold the pocket piece over RST and pin.

Sew along the raw edge.

Turn the pocket piece inside out.

Finger press and then iron to create a nice seam at the top and edgestich how you like.  I used two rows of stitches on my pocket piece.  Your handles are now enclosed in the pocket fabric.

Now you want to watch for a few things when putting the bag together.  I attached the pocket 11 inches from the top and 3.5 inches from the bottom seam of the two outside pieces. 

Make sure that you are exactly the same amount up from the seam for both pocket pieces, this way they will match up around the bag later on.

Use a longer stitch length and baste the raw edge sides of each pocket onto the outside pieces:

Next use a small stitch length and edgestitch the pocket onto the outside piece along the bottom finished edge of the pocket:

What's nice now is that inside the pocket (below) there is no raw edge, just a nice finished seam on both sides.

Here's some visual help if you've never put a lining in a tote bag before.  This is the method where you sew around the whole top and leave an opening in the lining.  Put the tote into the lining RST and tuck the handles down.

Next match up the side seams of the tote and lining using pins or clips.

I know people like to use clips, but I find a lot of pins keeps the lining from having any puckers, so here's how I do it.

Now stitch a 1/2 inch around the whole top.  Try to keep the bag flat on the sewing edge by pulling the top part (across from the presser foot) towards you as you go.  You may want to backstitch at the seams.

Turn your bag through the hole you left in the lining.

Iron the inside of the lining where the opening is and then stitch across with a small stitch length and coordinating thread.

Push the lining inside the bag.  Now you have two options, the first is to iron the bag with the lining and outer evenly matched as per the pattern.  The other option shown here is to fold so that the lining stays over the outside by the seam allowance, creating a nice detail at the top of the bag.  (If you want to do this you would add 1/2 inch of length to the lining size, so it would be 15.5 inches by 15 inches wide when you cut the lining pieces.)  I like to add the top detail like this:

After you iron all around, get those pins out again and pin all around the inside of the bag at the top leaving at least 3/4 inch of space from the edge.  The more pins the less likely the lining will pucker when you stitch it in place.

If you have an edgestitch foot like this get it ready!  If not you can just use your regular foot to stitch in the ditch.  Sew all around the top of the bag, I like to start by one of the side seams.  Be sure to keep the handles away from the presser foot.

Here's what the inside looks like when you are done.

If you make this pattern I hope some of these pictures help you.  Have a great week and happy sewing!

Linking up with Amanda at Crazy Mom Quilts.


  1. Cute bag! Thanks for sharing your tips :)

  2. The pocket modification eliminating the raw edges was a great idea! The purchased strapping was a perfect match. Thank you for the step-by-step walking us through it. Very helpful! What a fabulous bag!

  3. Your bag looks great. I love the C+S print.