I’m taking the Design Your Own Handbag Class on Craftsy at the moment and am picking up lots of tips about how to sew bags as well as how to design them. One easy way to adapt any bag pattern is to add your own pockets to the design, and the slip pocket is the easiest way to add some extra storage and organisation space inside your bag.
What is a slip pocket?
A slip pocket is a basic open pocket, usually on the inside of a bag, where you can simply ‘slip’ something in easily. It has no buttons, zips or closures and is the easiest pocket to sew. It will be sewn onto the lining piece before the bag lining is assembled. Let’s look at how we can make one.
What makes the perfect slip pocket
What features might we be looking for? Well, let’s think about size. If you want the pocket simply to hold your phone to make it easier to find in your bag, then make it the right size to perfectly fit your phone. Want one for your pen? Make it long and narrow, perhaps in between two other pockets.
Where is is going to be? These kind of pockets are usually found about mid-way up the inside panel of the bag. Too close to the top and they aren’t easy to get things in and out of. Too close to the bottom and they don’t help you find what you need if you have to really rummage around. The exception might be in a flat bottom bag such as the Carry All Bag, where your slip pocket might hold bottles or larger, heavier items and in this case it will usually be positioned at the bottom.
What should it be made of? The slip pocket could be a heavily used area, so even if you have a light weight lining to the bag, you’ll want to make sure the pocket is sturdy. Making it in a contrast fabric helps you find what you want quickly and easily. In this example, I’ll be using a regular cotton, and for stability, adding a piece of fusible interfacing to one half of the pocket, although the interfacing is really optional, and can make your pocket edges a bit bulky.
How to sew a simple slip pocket
Start with a piece of fabric twice the size of your finished pocket, plus a little extra for your seam allowances. Add interfacing to half (optional).
Fold the pocket in half, right sides together and sew around the open edges, leaving a gap of about 3 inches at the bottom middle for turning.
Before turning, press your pocket and pay attention to press back the seam allowances over the opened area. This will help later on. Clip the corners close to the stitching.
Now turn the pocket, push out the corners neatly and then press again, making sure the edges are neatly turned in at the gap.
Top stitch across the top of your pocket to stabilize it, about 1/4 inch from the fold. Using a twin needle looks really nice here, or carefully stitch a second line, following the first one.
Pin the pocket in place where you want it on your lining and stitch carefully on the sides and bottom, closing the gap as you sew. Make sure it’s straight!
Back stitch a little at the top edges as this is the area that will receive the most wear. I set my machine to a small, close zig-zag stitch for strength.
If you are making a double pocket, mark a line to make the pockets the size you want, and then sew again from top to bottom.
If you want to take it a step further, how about adding a contrast trim to the top of your pocket. Simply cut the pocket in two pieces, making one piece 1/2 or 1 inch taller than the other piece. Join them together and when the pocket is turned out, you’ll have a contrast strip across the top of the pocket and a matching lining. Neat!
Learn lots of great bag sewing techniques and tips in the Design your Own Handbag Class – 50% off for So Sew Easy readers!