Thursday, December 31, 2009

Pocket tutorial

A pocket for a handbag might be easy enough to make, you say? Yes, I agree, there are numerous ways of making pockets that are quite OK, but I have worked out one that really works for me, and the people I have made bags for are very happy with this design too. The advantage is that you make the pocket on its own, and add it to the bag as you stitch the bag and lining together, the pocket hanging freely inside the bag with easy access to cell phone, keys and whatever you want to keep in the pocket. I was looking for my notes while making a new bag, and that's when I realized that I should have it all in my blog. And if anybody else can find it useful to, why not!

So, here goes:
You need :
three pieces of fabric:

  • A: 3 1/2" x 4",
  • B: 8 x 4" and
  • C: 8 x 24".

  • a 4" zipper,
  • a 3" piece of grosgrain ribbon,
If you want to be able to attatch your bunch of keys, a metal ring or a carabiner hook or similar might be a good idea too.
Seam allowance: I generally use a standard seam allowance, aligning the right edge of the sewing machine foot with the edge of the fabric (that should be about 5/8" I think).

Fold piece A in half lenghtwise and press. Fold the edges towards centre fold, press and fold along centre fold. Stitch a narrow seam along edge of the strip along both sides and cut the stitched strip into 4 tabs. Next, you fold pieces B and C in half. The 8" folded edges will be placed alongside the zipper as shown in the picture above, using the tabs (placed behind the large fabric pieces) to separate the pieces. The tabs at the edges should be placed about 5/8" in from the edges. The ribbon will be stitched onto the back of the fold to strengthen the opening of the cell phone pocket. To do this, begin with the folded C piece, stitch the zipper along the edge, adding one tab at each end, the ribbon on the back and the third tab on the far right. Stitch another seam along the edge about 5/8" from the first, stabilizing the tabs and catching the lower edge of the ribbon on the back. It should look something like this when you're done. Ideally one should use a matching ribbon, but I used what I had and I'm not too bothered, as it wont really show.
Next, attatch piece B along the other edge of the zipper, catching all three tabs. If you want to add a ring or hook for your keys, use the fourth tab now. Thread the ring or hook onto it, fold it in half and pin it to the middle tab, attatching it while you stitch a narrow seam along the edge of piece B.
Now you have all the pieces stitched together, with the zipper attatched and the opening for the cell phone pocket next to it. Now fold the long C piece in half, right sides together, bringing raw edges of pieces B and C together (4 layers) at the top.
Stitch a seam along each side, backstitching at both ends. Trim corners and turn pocket inside out. It's beginning to look like a pocket now, isn't it? Add a seam 5/8" from the zipper seam along the upper edge to close the upper piece, and a seam on each side to make a sturdier edge and to enclose the raw edges on the inside (shown with red lines in photo). Now to make the cell phone pocket, stitch a seam starting at the right edge (1) on top of the lower seam above the cell phone opening and onto the middle tab (2). Keep needle down and turn 90 degrees and stitch a seam down to the bottom of the pocket (3) to separate zippered pocket and cell phone pocket. Keeping needle down, turn pocket 180 degrees and stitch back on same seam about 1 1/2" (4), turn 90 degrees and stitch a seam to the right edge of the pocket (5) to form the bottom of the cell phone pocket. You might want to measure with your own phone where you want this seam to be - you don't want your phone to slip all the way into the pocket so it is difficult to get out, but it should not be too shallow so the phone falls out either.
That's it, your pocket is done and ready to be stitched to the edge of your lining so that the upper edge can be caught in the seam when you stich bag and lining together.

Now this pocket consists of four layers of fabric, making it very sturdy. I like that, and also the fact that I see the front of the fabric inside the pockets. However, you could make the pocket from a fabric like canvas or linen that is sturdy enough in itself, and looks the same on both sides. You would only need to cut pieces B and C at half the length, and just hem the edges you stitch to the zipper.

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