Thursday, June 25, 2015

Two-Timing Tote/Diaper Bag Sew Along: Piping and Pocketing the Exterior

Now we're going to tackle the details on the outside gusset.

Prepare the Gusset

If you're using directional fabric as I am, we need to sew our two gusset pieces together. Lay them out so that the pieces are going in two different directions so they'll look proper on the finished bag--

Take the right piece, flop it over to the piece on the left (right sides together), and sew using a half-inch seam allowance. Press open. Lay it on top of your gusset fleece. You can edge-stitch these layers together if you feel more comfortable. 

Making and Attaching the Elastic Side Pockets

Take an exterior and a lining side pocket piece, and put them right sides together. Sew using a 1/4 inch seam allowance along the top edge only. Press this seam open. 

Then put it wrong sides together and press the seam/fold nice and neat. Now we make a casing for our elastic. I am using 3/8 inch elastic, so I'm sewing a line that is 1/2 inch across (backstitching, of course). 

Now that my stitching is set I find that I usually need to neaten up the bottom edge. I use my pinking rotary blade to do this, trimming off just enough so the edges are pinked and even. If you can't pink, that's fine, but neaten up the bottom edge anyway.

OK. Now, we know that our pocket is eight inches wide, and our gusset is only six inches wide. That means we have two inches to tame so thing are nice and even, and we're going to do that with a single centered pleat. Fold your fabric in half, and place a pin at the one-inch mark from the fold.

To make sure the pocket fits just right, open it up and measure to make sure it's six inches.

Flatten out the pleat fabric on the wrong side and pin so that it looks like this, giving it a light press to help keep its shape:

Take a piece of elastic that is about seven inches long, and pin a safety pin to one edge. Insert the pin into the case, and feed the elastic through. When the edge without the pin reaches the edge of the pocket, stop, and stitch it to secure:

Keep feeding the pin through. Gently pull on that end of the elastic so the top edge gets nice and gathered, and measures about six inches:

Stitch that edge of the elastic in place, and trim off the excess. Adjust the gathers so they are nice and even. Make your other pocket the same way.

Find the center of your gusset piece (if you sewed it together the seam line is the center). 8 1/2 inches up from that center point is where our pockets will be placed but please pay attention to the placement. Place your pocket with the lining facing up and the raw edge at the 8 1/2 inch mark, the elastic end towards the center of the gusset.

Pin in place like you see above. Then stitch about 1/4 inch from the raw pocket edge, taking care your pleat doesn't try to run away on you.

Fold your pocket up so it looks like it will when we're finished, and press that fold. The rest of the pocket can flop around until we stitch it to the bag front/back, or you can edge stitch it to keep it in place. Repeat for the other pocket.


I posted a piping-making tutorial recently to give you a few options on how to make your own piping. If you aren't adding this feature, or are using store-bought, you can keep moving. If you want to make your own piping for this project, get your half-yard of fabric we set aside at the beginning, and follow this tutorial. You are going to need about 84 inches of piping total (make one long strip--don't half it). I recommend a little bit longer stitch length, and do not backstitch. See you soon!

Back already? That didn't take long. If you've made a bag before, I'm sure you're aware of how the top edges where the seams all come together can be awfully bulky. In order to cut down on that a little we're going to remove a little bit of the piping cord. At one end only, open up your seam a little, and give the piping cord a tug. It should slide out a little. Trim so that there is one inch of empty piping fabric at that end, and then pull your fabric nice and smooth again.

Starting at one end of your gusset, pin the piping in place. I usually only do this at the start as I find it easier to use my fingers for this little-bit-bulky situation.

Stitch, making sure all of your layers stay lined up. My piping foot makes this step very easy (what? You think I'm trying to convince you that you need one? Pshaw!).

Stitch until you're a few inches away from the end, then stop with the needle down. The piping fabric is on the bias so it might want to stretch a little as you sew (which is why I do this part as I go). NOW cut your piping off at the edge of the gusset. Pull open that edge as we did before and cut off an inch of the piping cord. Make your fabric nice and neat, and stitch to the end. Your piping is attached to one side of the gusset, nice and comfy-cozy.

Repeat for the other side of the gusset with your remaining piping.

OK, that feels like a lot for one day, so I'll leave you to it. Next up we'll be finishing the exterior bag and creating the zipper casing. The lining will seem super simple after all this detail work!

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