Even though I didn’t want to undo the handles on my first Clarissa bag (from the book: Bags–The Modern Classicsby Sue Kim), I felt the need to make another one right away. I cut it out at the same time as I cut out the pleated wristlet purse, and out of the same fabric as that dainty purse for the outside. The lining was going to be a more flamboyant bouquet of flowers. It was going to be the first bag in this series that I made for myself. And it was going to have LOTS of pockets!
You might say I went into a pocket making frenzy. I made 2 rows of simple open-top pockets for one side of the lining. All that needs to be done for each pocket of this type is to sew (right sides together) 2 pieces of fabric that are the same size, but leave one little space for turning. Then, turn it right side out, press, and edge stitch the 2 sides and the bottom to the lining (before constructing the bag). If you place the section that you left open along the bottom or sides, you can simply sew it closed when you attach it to the lining. I like to make these kind of long, so that I can then divide them by sewing them to the lining in a couple of other places, parallel to the side seams. It gives me “a rack” of open-top pockets.
The other side of the lining got a medium sized zipper pocket. The only color of zipper I had left that came close to coordinating with the lining was bright turquoise, but, since I was aiming for bright and happy, this was acceptable. I still like the method I used for the zipper pocket on the first Clarissa bag. I explained that some when I wrote about the first Clarissa bag, but I will do it more thoroughly in this post.
I have enjoyed learning how to make the insert zipper pocket and the zipper partition pocket (as Lisa Lam refers to it in her book: The Bag Making Bible) The insert pocket seems the best for a more sleek look, or will be small and you know you will only put light weight items in it. Most of my bags will have heavy use. The zipper pocket that I have adopted based on what I learned making the Urban Carryall bag, is held together more strongly at the ends of the zipper and the side seams.
The sturdy zipper pocket can be thought of as a pocket that is pre-made, then sewn to the bag, lining, or wherever you want it. The zipper will be able to open all the way across the top section of the pocket (which the zipper in the insert zipper pocket cannot do). The extra layers of fabric reinforce the pocket.
You will want to begin by deciding how big you want your pocket to be. I always lay the bag or lining out flat, before I have made darts or other seams. Then I measure the space where I want the pocket, making sure to plan on leaving enough fabric along the bag/lining edges for working with other seams. You will need 5 pieces of fabric cut, plus a couple of small scraps to reinforce the zipper. (I have been using 1/2 seam allowances, which would need to be added to your measurements):
- The (one) back can be out of lining fabric. This will keep it from being too bulky or heavy, but, of course, if you want a super sturdy pocket, you could cut this back piece out of the heavier material. This is the only piece that is basically the same size as the pocket will be when complete, so it can be used to double check the fit of the pocket in the space you are using.
- The top front of the pocket is made of 2 comparatively narrow and long strips, one of lining and one of the main fabric. You just need enough fabric to be able to sew in the zipper and sew the top of the pocket to the main bag or item.
- The bottom front of the pocket is another 2 pieces, cut as deep and wide as you want for your design.
- The zipper will take up about 3/8 inch between the front pieces, so take that into consideration when determining pocket size.
The first steps involve sewing the front 4 pieces to the zipper. It doesn’t have to be done in a specific order, but it is probably best to stick to an order that you are likely to follow for all your pockets of this sort. Otherwise, you risk confusing yourself. I begin by placing the zipper face down at the top edge of the bottom front pocket piece. The zipper will be completely over the fabric. Sew them together with 1/8 inch seam.
Now, I put the lining fabric piece of the same size and shape over the top of that, right sides together.
Sew these together along that same edge, where the zipper is, in a 1/8 inch seam. Now, flip the lining over to the back side, so that the zipper is exposed, the fabric pieces are now wrong sides together, and the edges of the two pieces of fabric are even. Press away from the zipper, then edge stitch along the fabric by the zipper. (see all 3 photos below)
Sew the narrow strips to the other side of the zipper the same way.It works out well to begin with the main fabric again, to make sure that the zipper will end up facing the correct way.
After the narrow strip of the main fabric is sewed in place (with the same 1/8 inch seam), turn the partially assembled pocket such that you can pin the narrow strip of lining over the zipper, with the two narrow fabric pieces right sides together.
Now, press those two pieces away from the zipper, just as was done with the larger, bottom pieces. Top stitch about 1/8 inch from the edge of the fabric, to match the top stitching on the other section.
I like to reinforce the open end of the zipper by making a tab out of a scrap. I just hemmed the edge that would be showing at the zipper opening. Then, I sewed that to the fabric/zipper tape just beyond the zipper teeth.
Now, it is time to pin the back lining piece to the front of the pocket. But OPEN THE ZIPPER FIRST so that you will be able to turn it right side out!
You can really make this seam any width you want. You want it to catch enough fabric that it will be strong, but not so much that you just have to trim it away. I zig-zag around the seam, too. If I do that right, I can still cut away the corners enough that they will lay square and flat. The other important thing is that you want to leave the ends of the zipper tabs so that you don’t sew the zipper teeth into the inside of the pocket. When it is turned right side out, you wan the zipper teeth to all be on top.
Turn it right side out, using a blunt end of a pencil or crochet hook to work out the corners. Press the pocket flat.
I placed the pocket on the main body of the bag so that it would sit above the darts, but not at the very top edge of the bag. Sew all around the edges, about 1/8 inch from the pocket sides. You can do this again for extra strength. It ended up being the perfect size for my iPad.
That makes 8 pockets so far! There was room on the other side of the bag for 2 smaller, flap top pockets. I constructed them basically like the open-top pockets that I attached to the lining. It is helpful to cut the flap pieces a smidge wider than the pocket top. I made the flap just like a pocket, except I put the button holes in them before sewing them just over the top of each pocket. I only sewed the top edge of the flap to the main body of the bag, centered over the pocket.