Sometimes when we are at LARP we want to keep our mundane items safely out of sight. Wallets, phones, keys – all our important possessions need to go somewhere. Whilst camping we can tidy things away into cubbyholes and bags, however we always need these things to hand on day sites.
In this bag tutorial I will show you how to add a hidden pocket that can be closed with a button (or substituted for a zip) to provide a secure place to stash your keys close at hand.
For more bag and kit tutorials and walk-throughs, check out my Tutorials page.
- Pattern pieces
- Lining material
- Outer material
- Bias binding (optional)
- Button / zip
- Ribbon or cord for the ties
- Needle and thread
- Scissors, pins, chalk and seam ripper
Making the hidden pocket
First of all I would suggest you make your hidden pocket. Decide how high up the back you want your pocket to start and draw a rectangle the width of your lining piece and as deep as you want. Don’t forget to add seam allowance to the edge that will form the lip of your pocket. Copy the rest of your lining pattern to your pocket lip and add seam allowance to this edge too. If you were to lie these two pieces atop each other with the seam allowances overlapped it should match the dimensions of your lining piece.
Cut two pieces of the smaller rectangle and two pieces of the bottom pocket piece. Taking the two smaller rectangles, pin these bits to themselves with right sides together. Stitch along the pocket lip, trim and turn, leaving the outer edges loose as you press the seam.
Cut strips of cloth, ideally along the bias (an angle), or use piece of bias binding to form a button loop. I include a link to a tutorial on making button loops from bias binding that explains it all much better than I can!
Pin the bottom of the pocket together (right sides together) with the button loop in the middle like a sandwich – the loop should be pointing away from the seam you are about to stitch. Sew along the straight lip of the pocket, trim and turn, and press the pocket inner so that the button loop stands up away from the seam. All that remains is to sew a button at an appropriate height and you have the beginnings of your hidden pocket.
You could alternatively sew a zip along this seam for a secure closure. Don’t forget that you’ll be sewing this part into the side seams of your lining (as described below) so you need to leave a bit of a gap to the side of your zip. Here are a couple of tutorials that cover making zippered pockets in bags or to install a centred zip. The zip could be visible or concealed, it’s up to you!
Making the lining, outer and strap
Now that you have the inner section of your lining, you need to make the rest of the lining sandwich. Using your pattern pieces cut out two pieces of lining and put one piece aside. With the right side of the lining facing you lay the two pieces you have already prepared with button loop and button and pin them on top so that the button is facing you and the wrong side of the lining is facing away. Sew along the outer edge just a little bit narrower than your seam allowance (for example sew at 1/2″ rather than 5/8″) to hold this half of the lining together. Once this is done lay the remaining piece of lining face down so that the ‘right’ sides are together and sew down the sides and bottom.
Turn it right side out and check the buttoned pocket works and put to one side.
I now cut the outer material for the bag and sew the button holes for the ties to come through (using the buttonhole foot and setting on my sewing machine; but you could hand sew buttonholes or eyelets or use metal ones if you wish). I also cut the rectangles for the straps – one piece of lining, one piece of outer – and sewed them together down the sides before turning. I trimmed the edges, turned and pressed the strap flat, then folded it and pinned it to the back of the outer where I wanted it to go.
I stitched the strap to the bag and secured it by going back across the strap diagonally. Take the back and front piece of the bag, place right sides together, and pin the edges together, making sure you don’t accidentally catch the strap into the sides.
You should now have your outer pouch and the lining as two separate distinct pieces.
Putting it all together
This is the same principle as lining a normal pouch as discussed before. Put your lining inside the outer of the pouch, with the button towards the back of the bag. I prefer to keep the important things close against my body, but that’s just my preference.
Carefully pin the opening together, keeping the strap tucked out of the way, and stitch the lining to the outer. Leave a small gap at the top to pull the lining through, and either hand stitch or top stitch the hole closed.
Sometimes it takes me a couple of attempts to get linings to work in bags. Ideally when you turn the bag the ‘right’ way round you will have a wierd flat pancake which is one side outer and one side lining until you stuff the lining into the bag. The picture above shows the view inside the bag with the hidden pocket open. It’s not so obvious when you’ve got stuff in it – and I have it on good authority that it’s bottomless when it chooses to be.
Before you finish, don’t forget to stitch a straight stitch around the opening of the pouch just below your eyelets to make the channel for the cord / ribbon tie. Thread your cord / ribbon around the neck of your pouch and decorate accordingly before knotting.
Enjoy your bag with its hidden pocket and happy LARPing!
Bag was made using drill cotton and quilting cotton lining for a friend. Photos shown with permission of bag’s owner.
Time taken: ~ approx an afternoon