Monday, January 13, 2014

Floating Inset Pocket with Piping -- Sewing Tutorial

This pocket is great for the outside of a lined bag to hold something fairly big that you need quick and easy access to on a regular basis.  Think sippy cups, sunglasses case, cell phone, etc.  I used some scrap fabric to illustrate the pocket for the purposes of this tutorial, but it's not hard to imagine how it might work with a lined tote bag or handbag.

Floating Inset Pocket with Piping -- Sewing Tutorial

Materials Needed:

Outside fabric (the side of a bag that you're making)
Coordinating lining fabric (for the inside of the pocket, but will show on the outside, too)
Thread to match the piping
Zipper foot or piping foot
Seam ripper

STEP ONE: Preparing the piping

Determine the size and shape of your pocket.  I like making it an oval shape, but a circle would be cool, too.  I guess you could even go crazy and make it wavy, but that's totally up to you.  Lay out your piping in the desired shape and make sure there is about a 1" overlap of the beginning and end of the piping.  Cut off any excess.  Your lining fabric should be cut about an inch or so wider on either side than the pocket opening, and the length of the lining should be as deep as you desire, including about an inch above the top of the opening.

Using a seam ripper, remove the basting on the piping on the last inch.

Open the piping up and cut about an inch off of the length of cording inside.

Press the end down about 1/4" toward the inside of the piping.

Making sure the piping isn't twisted, nestle the other end of the piping inside the open end, butting the intact end up with the cording inside the open end.

Pin it together.

Put your zipper foot (or piping foot, if you have one) on your machine.  This is what mine looks like for my Viking, but my old Brother machine had one that looked quite a bit different.

Baste the circle of piping together along the original basting line.

STEP TWO: Stitching the piping in place

Pin the piping in place on the right side of the outer fabric, with the raw edge of the piping FACING IN.  It's going to be all wavy and obnoxious around any tight curves, but don't worry too much about that and just make sure the round part of the piping is lying nice and flat against the outside fabric.

With your needle in the far left position, sew counter-clockwise around the inside of the piping.  Sew right on top of the basting that holds the piping together.  Go slowly, because the stitching line you make that shows on the back is very important in the next step.

STEP THREE: Sewing on the lining

Lay one piece of the lining fabric on top of the piping you just sewed, with the right sides of the fabric together.  Make sure there is about an inch of lining above and on both sides of the piping circle.  Add a couple of pins in the corners of the lining fabric (not pictured) to keep the lining in place.

Flip the whole thing over so that the wrong side of the outside fabric is now facing up.  Add a few pins around the outside of the stitching line to ensure that the lining is secured to the outside fabric close to the piping.  Then, from the inside of the circle, stitch right on top of the existing stitching line.  Again, go slowly because accuracy is very important to the finished product.

If you flip the whole thing over again, it should now look like this.

STEP FOUR: Cutting and flipping

Cut out the shape of the pocket about a 1/2" INSIDE the stitching line.

Add a few small snips along the curves, cutting through all of the layers, almost up to (but not through!) the stitching line.

With the right side of the outside fabric facing up, stuff all of the lining fabric into the hole and through to the other side.

It should look like this now, and the wrong side of the outside fabric should be facing the wrong side of the lining fabric.

Do some "persuasive ironing" to get the lining to lie flat and to get the front side looking nice and unwrinkled.  Steam the heck out of it if you need to.

The back might not look perfect but don't stress about that too much.  The front is what counts.

NOTE: If you would like to add some topstitching around the outside of the piping, do it now!  I chose not to do it for the purposes of this tutorial, but it definitely looks nice.  If you have fancy pattern stitches on your machine, this would also be a great place to add them.

STEP FIVE: Assembling the pocket lining

With the right side of the outside fabric facing down, lay the other piece of lining right on top of the piece already sewn on, with the right sides facing.  Line up all the raw edges and pin only the two layers of lining together.  I pulled the outside fabric out of the way to show that it wasn't pinned to the lining.

Put the regular foot back on your sewing machine.  Then, sewing ONLY through the lining layers (pulling the outside fabric out of the way as you go along), sew around the edges with about a 1/2" seam allowance.  Add a second row of of stitching closer to the raw edges of the fabric (not pictured) if you want an extra-strong pocket as some insurance that your kid won't shove anything in there too hard and pop the stitches.

This is what it should look like from the right side if you did everything correctly!  I love the little peek-a-boo effect with the lining fabric.  (Up this close, you can see a few spots where I didn't keep my stitching exactly in the right place.  That's why it's important to make sure you stitch right on the basting line of the piping, and then exactly on that line from the back when sewing the lining on.  From a normal distance, this isn't noticeable.)

Now you can stick something in there, like toys that just so happen to match the color scheme of the bag!

Special thanks to ikat bag for the inspiration for the floating inset pocket!


Featured at: Gingerly Made, Vintage Zest, Threading My Way, Pattern Pile

Linking up to: ChrisW Designs, Blossom Heart Quilts, Nap-Time Creations, Sugar Bee Crafts, Mabey She Made It, I Have to Say, And Sew We Craft, Funky Polkadot Giraffe, One Krieger Chick, Ginger Snap Crafts, The DIY Dreamer, Sew Much Ado, The Princess and Her Cowboys, Gingerly Made, The Stitchin' Mommy, The Idea Room, Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop Blog, I Heart NaptimeSew Can She, Threading My Way, Flamingo Toes, Two It Yourself, Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom, Creating My Way to Success, Sew Can Do, Skip to My Lou, Craft-O-Maniac


  1. LOVE this Niki! I've never made a pocket like this before - your instructions are so clear and straightforward, I'm going to try this out for myself!!! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you, Jill!!! You would laugh if you saw how many attempts it took to get this engineered properly. I don't have quite the mind for figuring out structure like you do. : ) Can't wait to see what you make with this kind of a pocket! I'm sure it will be fabulous.

  2. That's really neat!!

    Thanks for linking up to Sew Cute Tuesday!

  3. Great! I have something in mind that I needed to know this for, so thanks for sharing it!

  4. Great tute, haven't thought to do that before :D

  5. Stopping by from Gingerly Made link party. This post just gave me so many great ideas and inspiration for a new post, thank you, and I will certainly link back when I put it up!

  6. You make me believe I could actually do this! I'm going to come back to this as soon as I get to know my machine better!
    Thanks SO much for linking up with Hit Me With Your Best Shot! Hope to see you again next week!

  7. oh my! great tutorial.... so going to do this sometime! Your piping circle is amazing, well done!! Thanks for linking up to Create Link Inspire!

  8. Great tutorial and a fabulous finished look. Thanks for linking this to Craftastic Monday. Would love if you added Sew Can Do to your link party list so I can feature this idea:)

  9. Congrats! You are featured on this week's Do Tell Tuesday link party and have been pinned to our features board! Feel free to grab a button and link up this week too. :)

    Diane @ Vintage Zest

  10. Fantastic!! Thanks a lot for the tutorial!!

  11. I've never thought about making pockets this way. Plenty of ideas stemming from this one. You've been featured at Gingerly Made today!

  12. I love the look of this pocket, Niki!!! I'm definitely going to give this one a go, hopefully in the not too distant future.

  13. What a great technique (and terrific print!). I'm drawing a new bag pattern and I'd really like to include something similar... thanks for sharing!
    I'm coming there from Pam's feature ;) and I'm now following you: too much inspiration in only one blog, can't loose you <3
    Hugs from Italy,
    MammaNene @

  14. Awesome! I'm planning out a new bag, and I will use your tutorial. Thanks for the clear instructions that make even me want to try it.

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  16. I love this idea for a pocket, thanks for sharing

  17. Where did you purchase the piping encased in the cloth or did you make it? Otherwise this is so awesome I can hardly wait to implement it!

  18. Thanks, Cheryl! I bought the piping at Jo-Ann Fabrics, but I have also made piping in the past when I made this type of pocket. Send a pic if you do incorporate the pocket into a project!!