Hi, everyone! This is Bonnie from Fishsticks Designs. I have really enjoyed following along with this Make for Mom series so far, and I'm thrilled to join in the fun today!
My husband and I packed up our youngest four children several weeks ago and headed out on a two and half week whirlwind trip that took us to West Virginia, Tennessee, Washington DC and Virginia. With so many stops, I knew I needed to keep myself organized. I had a long list of projects to get done before we left, though, and I think I might have actually skipped sewing this bag for me if I hadn't known that I had this blog post coming up! Moms really have a tendency to do that, don't we?
I added decorative pockets to the front and a zippered pocket on the back.
But, what I really want to show you is the inside of the bag.
Without inside organization, the size of this bag would make everything disappear. Adding pockets and loops to the inside of any bag, though, is really simple. Once you know how to do it, you can grab your favorite tote bag pattern and customize it perfectly for you!
You'll want to have your inner bag pieces cut and any interfacing added before starting on these little extras. Have a quilting ruler and a washable or disappearing marker handy. If you'll be making custom-sized pockets for anything (cell phone, notebook, etc.) then have those ready to be measured, too. I'm using a 1/2" seam allowance on everything and assuming a 1/2" seam allowance on your bag pattern.
Fold your loop piece over to form a loop, matching up the raw edges. Pin in place as shown and baste it to one side of your unfinished bag inner.
Now, let's move on to the pockets. I designed this smaller pocket to hold a pen, a pencil and my little notebook.
To make your own custom-sized pocket you have to do a little math, but it's really simple, I promise! For pens or pencils, a 1" wide pocket is perfect. I usually make credit card or loyalty card pockets 3 1/2" wide. (That width works for my I-phone, too.) If you have something specific, like my notebook, measure it across and add 1" for your pocket width. My notebook is 5 1/2" wide, so its pocket needs to be 6 1/2" wide. With me so far? The height of your pocket should at least 3/4 of the height of the things you're putting in it. That will keep them tucked nicely in place. For a standard pen/pencil/card pocket, I usually go with 4 1/2" finished height. My notebook is taller, though, so I made this pocket with a finished height of 5 1/2". Now you should have all your measurements. Here are your formulas: pocket width + pocket width + pocket width + 1" seam allowance + 1/4" topstitching allowance = fabric width and pocket height x two + 1" = fabric height. Just keep in mind that you are limited by the width and height of your bag. Pretty easy, right?
Here are my formulas:
For this set of pockets, you'll cut your fabric width the same as the width of your bag. You'll use the same formula that we used above for your fabric height. Since I wasn't exactly sure of what I'd be putting in these pockets but I wanted them to be pretty roomy, I went with 9" for my finished height. The width of my bag inner piece was 21", so I cut my pocket piece 21" wide by 19" (9x2+1) high. To sew this pocket, you'll only need to stitch across the bottom edge because the sides will be tucked inside your bag's seam allowance. Fold your fabric over with right sides together, the same way you did with the smaller pocket and stitch across the bottom edge.
Now all that's left is to finish your bag according to your pattern instructions. Then fill it up and go!