This tote bag pattern with pockets is made in pretty much the same way that I usually make tote bags, but I have added a pocket in the lining before I sew it all together. I have used the Buckeye Beauty quilt block for the front panel because I happened to have it lying around, but you could use any 16.1/2″ panel for your bag. Adding a pocket can be as simple as sewing a patch to the lining of the bag, but for this pattern I decided to add a hidden pocket which sits between the outer bag and the lining.
Cutting requirements for the tote bag pattern with pockets
For the outside of the bag: two 16.1/2″ squares
For the lining: one 16.1/2″ square, one rectangle 16.1/2″ by 4.1/4″, one rectangle 16.1/2″ by 14.1/4″
For the pocket: one rectangle 6.1/4″ by 5″, one rectangle 7″ by 5″
For the handles: two 2.1/2″ strips of fabric cut across the width of fabric – I have cut one in lining fabric and one in the fabric that I used for the back panel of the bag.
Making the outer part of the bag
With right sides together, sew together the two panels for the outside of the bag on both sides and across the bottom, creating a pouch.
Making the lining
Fold down a 1″ section on the 16.1/2″ length of both of the smaller sections of the lining. Press to make a fold line.
The pocket will be inserted between these two rectangles.
Turn under and sew a small double hem on the top of the smaller pocket rectangle. After I’d added the pocket I realised that this wasn’t strictly necessary, but I’d already taken the photos by this time and I felt that it did help when sewing everything together.
Line up the bottom edge of the two pocket sections and with right sides together sew two sides and across the bottom. The larger rectangle is the back of the pocket and the smaller one the front.
Lay the pocket with front section down and line up the top of the back pocket section with the folded section of the small lining rectangle – about half way across the lining.
Sew the back of the pocket to the lining along the fold line.
Turn over so that the right sides of the lining are facing up and line up the two fold lines of the lining. The pocket will lie behind the lining. Sew the front of the pocket to the larger lining rectangle. This is a bit fiddly, but definitely doable. My intention had been for the top of the pocket front to lie along the fold line of the lining, but in fact it ended up a little below the fold – that doesn’t matter. The important thing is for the two lining rectangles to match along their fold lines. Sew the two lining sections together on either side of the pocket along the fold lines.
Lay this section of the lining together with the 16.1/2″ square of lining fabric and sew down two sides to create a tube.
Making the tote bag straps
Cut the two lining strips in half and sew one of each colour together along each side to form two tubes. Pull the end of the tube down over the tube and gently tug it all through to turn the tubes right side out. Press and sew a line of top stitching about 1/4″ in from each edge to make sure that the straps keep their shape.
Assembling the tote bag
Pin the straps to the front and back of the outer bag section. Note that the right side of the strap is pinned to the right side of the bag section. It’s worth holding the strap up after you’ve pinned it so that you can be sure that the strap doesn’t have a twist in it.
With right sides together, pull the tube of lining down over the outer bag. Check that you have the pocket at the top as you do this.
Line up the tops of the outer bag and the lining. Sew these two sections together, making sure that you catch the bag straps in the seam.
Pull the lining out away from the rest of the bag. As it was a pouch, you now have an open end at the bottom of the lining. Turn under a small seam, pin the two edges of the lining together and sew them together to close off the bottom of the lining.
Now you can push the lining back inside the bag again, taking care to push out the corners. Pin around the top of the tote bag and top stitch it to keep the layers in place.
That completes the tote bag pattern with pockets. It obviously takes longer to make this hidden pocket rather than a straightforward patch sewn on top of the lining, but I quite like the idea of having a hidden pocket.
Here’s the video:
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