Welcome back to the Stow It All Sew Along with Ellen – Part two! YAY! 

Maria's Stow It All Tote

…………AND to add to the awesomeness of this sew along, Ellen has added a pattern hack for an expandable pocket! Now how COOL is that! Over to you Ellen:


Pic of EllenINTERIOR

Zip Pocket – Grab one of your lining and the Zip Pocket piece, following the measurements in the pattern and placement. Draw your box on the short end (wrong side) of your zipper piece, pop it on the lining right sides together. Sew around the box, before cutting the box down the centre, finger press all around between the layers, cut your box open and triangles as instructed in the pattern. Turn through and press.

Stow It All Tote

Measure your zip and do a few rows of stitches back and forth at the end marks. You could trim the zip off now or a little later. Position the zip in the box and secure by your favourite method…. I’m a free hander, just pop it under and sew. Loll   When secure, top stitch around the outside of the box.

Stow It All Tote Sew Along

Flip over and bring the bottom of the pocket to meet the top and pin in place. Seam across the top, as close as you can to the zip. Do a second row and trim excess fabric. From the front, fold the lining away from the zip pocket side seams and sew down both sides of the pockets. Cut off the zip ends if you haven’t done so already. Give it a press with a cloth.

Stow It All Tote Sew Along with Ellen

Interior Slip Pocket – Retrieve your 2 slip pocket pieces, place right sides together and seam across both long edges. Leaving ends open, before turning fold the seam allowance at the ends to the wrong side and press. Turn out to the right side, and offset the seam allowance along the top edge by rolling down and encasing the seam allowance inside the lining to form a band. (See pics) Press, then top stitch close to the seam but on the lining side.

Stow It All Tote - A ChrisW Designs designer bag pattern

The ends will be closed when attached to the lining.

Stow It All Tote

Here’s where my version changes a little from the original. I’ve added a A4 size expandable padded pocket on one side of the interior lining. It will fit A4 size papers or small devices of a similar size. It measures approximately 14.5” x 8.5”.  If you wish to do the same as me, then just follow along.

If you wish to do the original then…. position your slip pocket onto the unused lining piece at the placement measurements provided in the pattern.  Seam around the 3 sides, closing the ends as you go. Reinforce the top corners and sew some divider lines in, to separate into smaller pockets of your choice.

For my version, the slip pocket will need to go on the same side as the zip pocket. But remember to flip the zip pocket at the back up and out of the way when seaming the slip pocket on. Find the centre line and position the top of the slip pocket just 1cm (or close to) below the zip pocket. Seam around the 3 sides closing the ends as you go, reinforce the top corners and put in separation lines to make a few smaller pockets as you desire. Double check that you haven’t caught the zip pocket on the back.  Set aside for now.

Stow It All Tote

Stow It All Tote

Moving onto the Zip Gusset….. ooops  Yes I’ve done it a little different again. Well actually it’s pretty much the same but without the double sided tape. But if you’re a tape fan then press the seam allowance to the wrong side on the ends and long sides. Go ahead and follow the Pattern instructions to do your zip gusset.

My version – turn and press in the seam allowance on the ends and one long side only to the wrong side.  Take the other long side and line the raw edge up along the edge of the zipper tape, centred, right side of fabric to the wrong side of the zip tape.

Stow it All Tote Sew  Along

Do the same with the other gusset piece, seaming to the zip, while making sure the ends of the 2 gusset pieces are even at both ends. Press while using a cloth, be careful not to melt your zip.

Stow It All Tote Sew Along with Ellen

Flip to the right side, fold in the pressed edge onto the zipper tape so it just covers the stitching from the previous step. Making sure ends are lined up and even. Put a few pins in to hold.


Using your zipper foot, top stitch around, starting at one short end, along the long edge near the zip and across the other short end. Repeat on the other side. Leaving the most outer long edges as they will be top stitched onto the lining later.

Stow It All Tote

Prepare your Zipper Tabs as in the instructions, folding over your seam allowance to the wrong side on the short ends. Then seam the sides, I do them at the same time to make sure they are the same size (see pic). Trim, turn, poke out corners, and press.

Stow It All Sew Along

Grab your zip and gusset, measure to the recommended 19” if you haven’t done so already. I like my zip about an inch longer, so I add ½” either end. Secure ends with tacking and insert into the Zip Tabs. Top stitch around all 4 sides to secure.

Stow It All

OK  ……. The Extra Expandable Padded Pocket.

You will need:    

1 x main fabric 9.5”high x 14.5”width. (24cmH x 37cm W).

1x lining fabric …same measurements as above

2 x non woven interface .. Same measurement as Main.

2 x fusible fleece (Vilene H640)1cm smaller all around than the main fabric.

2 x side gusset 9.5”H x 3 ¾”W (24cm H x 9.5cmW)

2 x non woven interface same measurement as gusset.

1 x Strap tab 4” H x 31/4”W (10cm H x 8cm W)

1 x non woven interface same measurement as Strap tab

1 x Vilene H 640 fleece Tab 3”H x 1“W (7.5cmH x 2.5cm W)

1 x Velcro furry side 3” and Loopy side 1.5”

Stow It All Expandable Pocket by Ellen

We will also need a plastic template stabilizer, cut to size towards the end, but will be about 1 to 1.5cm smaller all around than the finished pocket size.

Fuse all the interfacing and fleece with the corresponding pieces.

Use a 3/8” or 10mm seam.

Side Gussets – Take one of the gussets and fold in half lengthwise, right sides together. Seam across the top and across the bottom. Grab the other and seam across the top and then match the bottom seam to the other one. The gusset needs to be the exact or a little less than the same height as the main pocket front. Turn and press.  Top stitch across the top only. Put aside for now.

Expandable Pocket!

Take you Strap Tab and fold in half, wrong sides together and press. Now put your fleece inside and butt it up against the pressed edge on the inside. Press to fuse. Open out and place the stiff loopy side of the Velcro about 1.5cm from one of the short edges, on the side that has no fleece (see pic). This will become the bottom edge. Sew around 4 sides to secure and you could do an X in the middle if you wish.

Expandable Pocket

I made my tab as in the picture, but I had trouble turning it and dislodged my fleece. I suggest doing it this way. Press the seam allowance to the wrong side on both long edges. Fold right sides together and seam across the short edge that has the Velcro. Turn and press. Now top stitch up one long edge, across the short end (that has the Velcro) and down the other long edge, closing the open side as you go. Leaving the other short end open with a raw edge. Press and put aside.

Stow it All Expandable Pocket

Main part of the pocket – Prep main and lining by folding in 1cm to the wrong side along the long edge which will become the top of the pocket, and press. Grab the outside main panel for the pocket and crease to find centre.  Retrieve the 3” piece of fluffy Velcro and centre it, and position 1cm down from already folded top edge. Seam it on, around all four edges and do a box if you wish, for stability.

Attach Gussets – Take one of the gusset pieces and with the top-stitched end at the top and with the right side of the gusset against the right side of the main panel, line up the raw edge of the gusset with the raw edge down one side. The top of the gusset should line up with the folded top edge of the main panel. Phew.. When you have that in place then baste at ¼”….. Then repeat all that positioning on the other gusset.

Stow It All Expandable Pocket!

Now fold the corners of the gussets in and pin out of the way so they won’t get caught when joining the main and lining panels.

Expandable Pocket

Retrieve the lining panel and place on table in front of you, right side up. Place the main panel on top right side down. Line up the pressed edges at the top, match the sides and bottom and pin or clip to secure. I squared the pocket up and then marked a ¼” seam all around.

Stow it All Expandable Pocket

Seam the folded edges, then down the sides, across the bottom, back up the other side, and over the folded edges, and reinforce. Trim seam allowances and clip corners. Turn and make sure you didn’t catch the gussets inside, adjust if you did.

Stow It All

Turn and pull the gussets out, the sides look a little like wings, give it all a good press with a cloth. Making sure your two pressed edges are even at the top. From the front, fold the gusset in half and press that edge, now top stitch that edge on both gussets. I wanted to make this pocket quite stiff, so I’m leaving the top open to fit a sheet of template plastic in there. However, I want to top stitch about 1” of the top edge of the main panel (where the folded edges are) turn and top stitch down the seam that joins the main panel to the gusset. Repeat on the other side.

Expandable Pocket pattern hack

Measure the pocket and cut your template plastic now, 1 to 1.5cm smaller all  the way around than your finished pocket measurements. Try it in the pocket for fit. Now …. you can leave it in there and seam the top of the pocket shut now if you like. However .. I did that and I suggest that you take it out until after turning. Turning with it in was extremely hard.

Stow It All Tote

We’re ready to position the pocket onto the lining now. Centre the pocket onto the lining , 3 1/8” down from the top edge of the bag lining. Pin in place, so by now you should realize that the gusset folds in under the main panel.

Stow It All Tote

So we need to pin the edge of the gusset to the lining, then while moving the pocket out of the road, seam down the outer gusset edge. Making sure the top corner is reinforced a few times. Repeat on the other side edge.

Stow It All Tote Expandable Pocket!

Make sure the bottom corners are sitting properly and then seam across the bottom, catching the gusset corners underneath.

Sew Along With Ellen!

Attaching the Pocket Tab… Line up the Velcro on the tab with the Velcro on the pocket. Place the raw edge 3/8th” above the top edge of the pocket. Velcro facing upwards. Seam at 4/8”, fold back down and seam across at ¼” above the top of the pocket.

Stow It All expandable Pocket pattern hack by Ellen

The pocket can be used as a flat pocket or with the gusset and adjustable tab can be used as a wider pocket.

Expandable Pocket for the Stow It All Tote bag

Now … to be able to fit this pocket onto the bag lining, I had raise the zip and zip gusset.

If you have done the original pocket, then you need to follow the pattern with placement of the zip gusset, which is 2 ¾” down from the top of the raw edge of the lining.

If you have done the extra pocket then I have placed the zip gusset 2” down from the raw edge.

Go ahead and centre the zip gusset in the middle of the lining and at the required distance that suits you. Repeat with the other side of the zip gusset onto the other lining.

Stow It All Tote bag

Now we can join your linings together, Starting with the bottom seam.  I like to pin all the way around, making sure it’s all square, and then seam across the bottom ONLY and then press open.

Seam the sides, leaving at least a 7” gap open for turning on one side. Next we will box the corners. I forgot to take pics here, I must have been concentrating on what I was doing. But Chris has excellent pictures in the pattern. Following the measurements on the pattern, line up the side seam and bottom seam lines. Then measure the required amount to make your triangle, seam across, I then do a second seam ¼” away and then Trim the corner off. Repeat on the other corner.

I do believe we are ready to Assemble the bag now….Yippee!!!

Mark these points on your exterior and interior, centre front and back and centre of the gusset sides. You need to have the outer shell inside out. The lining right side out, with your zipper tabs tucked down and out of the road. Orientate the lining so the zip will open from the side of the bag you prefer. Remembering that at the moment the zip is open and when closed the zip runner will be at the other end of the bag.

Slip the lining into the outer, matching all the marked points. Pin or wonder clip all the way around. Seam together,  all the way around the top. Check that your sewing line is even and adjust if needed, then I do a second line about 3mm outside the original.

Finishing up your Stow It All!

Then I trim off the top of the seam allowance, not much, just enough to give it a smooth top edge, as that edge will become the top of your bag. When you’re happy, turn the bag through the gap left in the lining.

After turning, push the lining into the bag and make sure it’s all sitting perfectly. Hopefully you won’t have to make any adjustments. At this point you can pull out the lining a little and install your base template plastic and backing plates for the bag feet( I forgot to do this), and fit the template plastic into the expandable pocket and seam it closed across the top. Then when you’re happy close the lining. Pushing the lining  down into the bag and use your seam allowance at the top to form a band. Moving around the top as you go, smoothing the lining over the band and pin in place. When you’re happy then top stitch all the way around, just on the lining side of the seam.

Oh Boy Oh Boy Oh Boy ….So Close… Give your bag a good press with a cloth and make sure you have your rivets in your straps. Attach your straps.

YaY!!!! You’re DONE.

Stow It All Tote by Ellen

Ellen's completed Stow It All Tote

Thank You Christine for having me, I hope everyone has enjoyed this bag as much as I have! See you next time, Hooroo from Australia.



AWESOME! Love your Stow It All, Ellen and especially your Expandable Pocket! AWESOME!! Thank you so much! 🙂

If you don’t have it already, you can grab the pattern for the Stow It All Tote HERE!

If you LOVE the Stow It All Tote but don’t sew?…Just pop along to our Buy and Sell Facebook group where you can find plenty of awesome people who do! 🙂 Sellers, you are most welcome to join us there too! 

Until next time, happy sewing!


Follow me on Twitter! Follow me on Facebook! Flickr Pool! ChrisW Designs on Etsy Follow me on Pinterest! Send me an Email! Google+! Follow me with Feedburner!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *