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PatternPile is a resource for finding practical and fun-to-sew patterns for bags, hats and quilts.



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Maximizing Functionality: The Art of Adding Pockets and Compartments to Bag Designs

With four free video tutorials!

Pockets and compartments are often unsung heroes in the world of bags. Not only do they enhance a bag's functionality by organizing and safeguarding our essentials, but they also offer an opportunity for designers to infuse creativity into their creations. Dive deep into the universe of pockets and compartments to understand their role in the intricate craft of bag making.

1. The Why: The Importance of Pockets and Compartments

  • Organization: Well-designed pockets and compartments segregate items, making it easier to locate them quickly.

  • Protection: Dedicated compartments, especially for electronics or fragile items, provide added protection.

  • Enhanced Capacity: Smart compartmentalization can help maximize storage space without increasing bag bulkiness.


How to make a slip pocket with binding:

A free video tutorial from Anne Bonney Bags


2. Types of Pockets and Compartments:

  • Exterior Pockets: Usually designed for quick access, they're perfect for items like keys, tickets, or mobile phones. Examples include slip pockets and patch pockets. The Charlie Sling pattern by Kindred Sewls offers three front pocket options.

  • Interior Pockets: Tucked inside for added security. Often used for wallets, pens, or personal items. Examples are zip pockets and wall pockets.

  • Specialized Compartments: Designed for specific items such as laptops, sunglasses, or water bottles. They ensure that items fit snugly and stay protected.

  • Hidden Pockets: Craftily concealed within the bag's design, they're perfect for safeguarding valuables.



3. Design Considerations:

  • User's Needs: A camera bag will need padded compartments, while a cosmetic bag might require wipe-able pockets.

  • Accessibility: The placement should allow users to retrieve items easily.

  • Size and Shape: Compartments should be appropriately sized to prevent items from moving too much or being too constricted.

  • Closure Types: Decide between zippers, snaps, magnetic closures, or open pockets based on the intended use.


How to make a patch pocket with a zipper:

A free video tutorial from Christine's Home Affairs


4. Materials and Construction:

  • Reinforcement: Some pockets, especially exterior pockets, may require added reinforcement to retain shape and durability.

  • Lining: The choice of lining can impact the pocket's usability. For example, bright-colored linings make it easier to spot items inside.

  • Elastic and Expandability: Consider incorporating elastic into pockets that need to accommodate items of varying sizes.


How to sew an elasticized pocket to any project:

A free video tutorial from Allsewpetite


5. Creative Flair:

  • Decorative Stitching: Make your pockets stand out with unique stitching designs or contrasting threads.

  • Pleated or Ruffled Pockets: Add a touch of femininity or playfulness.

  • Layering: Multiple exterior pockets layered upon each other can create a textured, stylish look.


How to make an exterior cargo pocket with a gusset:

A free video tutorial from Anne Bonney Bags


6. Challenges and Solutions:

  • Avoiding Bulk: Over-compartmentalizing can make a bag bulky. It's essential to strike a balance.

  • Ensuring Durability: Heavily used pockets, especially those carrying heavy items, need to be robust. Reinforcement and choice of material play a role here.

  • Maintaining Aesthetics: While functionality is key, pockets shouldn't compromise the bag's overall look. Placement and design harmony are crucial.



7. Sustainability Aspect:

  • Eco-friendly Materials: Consider using sustainable materials for pockets, like organic cotton or recycled synthetics.

  • Reducing Waste: Craft pockets from off-cuts or remnants from other projects. Check out this Nautical Sailcloth Carry-all Bag project for example.

In conclusion, pockets and compartments breathe life into a bag, transforming a simple container into a functional, organized, and personalized accessory. As you delve deeper into the craft of bag making, remember that the magic often lies in the details. The humble pocket, with its myriad forms and functions, stands testament to this.



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Links in BOLD type are affiliate links.  Button links lead to both free AND for-a-fee projects.

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