Tote bag hack – how to add an external slip pocket

Hello my crafty friends!!! How are you doing today?

Can you believe that it has been a year since I’ve designed my first paid for pattern, Tote bag pattern to be precise! I designed this Tote bag to be mine (and yours) perfect shopping companion. It is a soft style tote bag, which can be folded and stored in the back of the car or handbag, ready for whenever you need it. One thing occurred to me lately, is that this tote bag would be even better if it had pockets, because very often I find myself looking for my wallet or keys at the bottom of the bag, which is usually filled to the brim with groceries, hence I thought it would be good idea to revisit the pattern and show you easy hack to add couple of external slip pockets.

Hacking the pattern

To make the external slip pocket you will need to create an additional pattern piece. To do that, take the Front / Back (A) pattern piece and simply draw a line about 12 cm (4 3/4″) from the top edge.

Fold the pattern along the line and you are done 🙂 Told you it was simple!

To create the external slip pocket you will need to take that “new” pattern piece and cut one piece from the external fabric and one piece from the lining fabric. If you want to make two pockets, one on each side, then cut two pieces from external and lining fabrics instead (this is what I’ve done).

If you are using a quilting cotton, or similar lightweight fabric, you might want to fuse some woven interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric, to add a bit of stability.

Sewing the pocket

Place the external and lining Slip pockets right sides together, line up on all sides and pin it along the top edge.

Sew the seam using 1.5 cm (5/8″) seam allowance. Remember to backstitch at the beginning and the end.

Open the seam allowance and press it flat.

Place the Slip pocket wrong sides together, roll the external fabric slightly towards the back to stop the lining from peeking out and press the seam flat.

Pin the pocket along the remaining sides.

Topstitch along the top finished edge using 5 mm (1/4″) seam allowance and baste on all other sides. You can trim off the excess lining fabric if needed.

With right sides facing up place the Slip pocket on top of the external Front and / or Back, line up along the sides and the bottom edge and pin it together.

Baste the pocket within 1.5 cm (5/8″) seam allowance.

If you prefer to have the slip pockets on the inside of your Tote bag, follow the instructions, but cut all pocket pieces from the lining fabric, and sew it to the Front and / or Back lining pieces instead.

Once you’ve made the pockets, you can complete the Tote bag as per usual. There is also a video tutorial available now on my YouTube channel that walk you through each step, so check it out.

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