Anyone else love pockets? Let’s sew a big cargo pocket with a magnetic snap flap on to a tote bag!
Not only are pockets useful, but they are also a great way to add some color and style to a plain tote bag. This pocket also includes a magnetic snap closure. If you haven’t worked with magnetic snaps before, this is an easy first project. It’s very low risk in terms of the amount of fabric you need and the amount of time you’ll invest.
The materials listed below are estimates. Pockets are a great way to use up fabric scraps, so check and see what you have before you go and buy new fabric!
- 1 or 2 fat quarters of cotton fabric (Grab a second fat quarter or use some scraps if your prefer a contrast on the flap or inside the pocket.)
- 1 magnetic snap set (Size is not a big concern. Just use what you can find.)
- about 1/2 yd. of mid-weight interfacing (I used Pellon 931.)
- matching thread
Sew a Cargo Pocket for a Tote Bag:
1.For the main pocket piece, cut out 2 rectangles, 12″ x 8″. For the pocket flap, cut out 2 rectangles, 8″ x 4″.
2. Fuse interfacing to 1 main pocket piece and both pocket flaps. (There should be directions included with it, but if you need more help choosing interfacing and applying it check out this post.)
3. Apply magnetic snaps to the interfaced pocket piece, and one of the pocket flaps. For the pocket piece, place the male snap centered across the width and 1 1/2″ from one of the long edges. For the main pocket piece, place the female snap centered across the width and 1 1/2″ from one of the long edges.
4. Place the large rectangles right sides together. Stitch around the rectangle with 1/2″ seam allowances, leaving a 3-4″ opening near the snap to turn the fabric right side out. It’s best to start stitching on a long straight side (as opposed to the corner).
5. Trim the corners and seam allowances. Turn the rectangle right side out through the opening, push out the corners, and press. Tuck in the raw edges at the opening and press those so that they are even.
6. Topstitch at 1/8″ along the edge with the snap. Topstitch another line 1/4″ below that. (You may need to use your zipper foot if you get close to the snap.)
7. Measure and mark the fold lines at 1″ and 2″ from each of the short sides.
8. Fold the fabric toward the pocket lining (the side without the snap) at the 2″ marks and press. Topstitch along the the fold lines at 1/8″.
9. Fold and press at the 1″ markings, so that you have a “z”-shaped fold.
10. Place the pocket on your canvas bag, centered across the width and 2″ from the bottom. Tuck the folded edges under the pocket, so that it is flat, and pin in place.
11. Topstitch the short sides onto one side of the tote bag, through the lower pocket layer only.
12. Topstitch along the bottom of the pocket through all pocket layers and one side of the tote bag. (It can be tricky to get the bag positioned. You’ll have to push a lot of fabric under the presser foot and re-adjust it often to keep the straps and back of the bag from getting caught in the stitching.)
13. Let’s make the flap! Place the flap pieces right sides together and stitch on 3 sides, leaving the long side without the snap open. Trim the corners, turn it right side out, and press. Topstitch around the 3 sides at 1/8″. (Use the zipper foot again to get around the snap, if needed.) Fold and press the raw edge of the pocket flap toward the side with the snap, 1/4″.
14. Snap the flap to the pocket and mark the place where the folded top edge of the pocket flap meets the bag.
15. Unsnap the flap and fold it up as though it were opened. Match the fold to the marks you just made and stitch it in place.
16. Fold and press the pocket flap down. Topstitch along the top edge at 1/8″ and again at 1/4″ below that. (This is just below the raw edge that is under it, so that the raw edge will be concealed when you open the flap.)
Don’t be intimidated by the number of steps! With practice, you can add a pocket like this in 15-20 min. Once you master the basic pocket, you can branch out and try different closures (hook-and-loop tape, buttons, or other latches) or trims (add some lace or use bias tape on the flap). You could even try making a patchwork pocket to use up those smaller scraps. Be creative and make it your own!
Also, don’t miss the first Tote Bag Upgrade post: 2 Ways to add a Lining to a Tote Bag