Have you ever made a hand-made gift for someone and wished that you could keep it? Well, that’s the case for me with this version of The Big Tote Bag! Last time I saw my friend’s knitting, it was living in an old plastic bag. So, I decided that for Christmas she could do with a gorgeous new knitting bag so that her projects would have a happy home! I’m so pleased with the result though, that I want to keep it. I guess I’ll have to make another one for myself.
I used a royal blue cotton duck cloth for the outside of the bag and a retro sewing pattern print drill from Spotlight for the lining. I love the print and the divider is super handy. I put my own knitting projects in there to take the pictures and they were grumbling at me when I said it was time to get out. I had a current project on one side, my patterns and needles in the middle pocket and a heap of yarn in the other side.
This tutorial shows you how to add a divider across the middle of The Big Tote Bag. The divider is also a pocket, giving you a lot more options for storing all your stuff! You can buy the PDF pattern for the bag in my Shop. Then follow the tutorial to add the divider. You could also take your own measurements to add the divider to any bag.
Add a Divider Pocket to the Big Tote Bag
The Big Tote Bag Pattern
All the supplies as listed in the pattern
A 40cm (16″) zip
approx 30cm/12″ fabric for the outer of the divider (I used the bag lining fabric)*
approx 30cm/12″ fabric for the lining of the divider (I used the bag outer fabric)*
*See below for exact dimensions needed
For this bag, I did not use any interfacing. I felt that the fabrics were sturdy enough on their own.
Start by cutting out all the bag pieces as required in the pattern. If you are adding the slip pocket to the lining, add it now.
Cut out the pieces for the divider. Cut 4 rectangles 43cm wide x 28 cm tall (17″ x 11″). Cut 2 from the divider outer fabric, and 2 from the divider lining fabric.
Take your bag lining pieces (the pieces for the actual bag, not the divider rectangles you just cut out) and cut an 8.5cm (3 3/8″) square from each of the bottom corners. You will be cutting 4 squares in total, 2 from each bag lining piece.
Use the squares to add tabs to the ends of the zip. Sandwich the end of the zip between 2 of the squares, with the squares right sides facing. Stitch along the end. Fold fabric over, right side out and press.
Repeat on the other end of the zip. You want the tabs to overlap the divider piece by about 1 inch on each end. See pic above.
Lay a lining divider piece down, right side up. Put the zip on top right side up, lining the edge of the zip up with the top of the fabric. The tabs on the ends of the zip should overhang evenly on each end of the fabric. Lay a divider outer fabric piece on top, right side down. Pin and sew along the zip edge.
Press both fabrics to the right side.
Repeat on the other side. Top stitch along each side of the zip to keep the layers neat.
Fold the divider in half, with the right side facing out. Use your fingers to ‘finger press’ the edges nice and flat. You should be able to play with the zip now.
Now you need to sandwich the divider in the bag lining. Take one bag lining piece and lay it down, right side up. Place the divider on top, lining up one side edge. Make sure the bottom corners line up. The divider will the shorter than the top of the bag. Lay the ther bag lining piece on top, right side down. Pin and then stitch the side seam. Repeat on the other side.
Note that the lining pieces are wider than the divider so you’ll need to fold up the middle of the lining pieces. You can see in the picture above right that the lining piece is folded up along the left.
Trim any extra from the zip tabs that is sticking out on the sides (see pic above right).
Now sew the bottom seam. Again, line up the edge of the divider between the 2 bag lining layers. You will have flaps sticking out on the corners (see pic above). We will sew them up in the next step. Now, pin along the bottom and then sew the bottom seam.
Pinch the two points of the flaps on one corner and pull them apart. The side seam of the bag and the bottom seam should be sitting on one another. Sew the seam (shown vertically in the pic above) to ‘box’ the corners of the bag. Repeat on the other side.
Have a look inside. Your lining and divider are complete!
Turn the bag lining wrong way out, so that the divider pocket is on the outside of the bag. Pick up your Big Tote Bag pattern and follow the pattern to make up the rest of the bag, starting with the bag exterior on page 7 of the pattern.