Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Design your own perfect pockets, lined !

I have started working on a vest, View D, from the same pattern I just used for my linen jacket, New Look 6397. The hi/lo hem version I am making does not sport any pockets and I definitely wanted them. Even if they did, I wanted a traditional patch pocket with a curved bottom so it was time to make my own.  I got my design tools out and here is how I went about it. 

First I found some graph paper and measured out the proposed size of the pocket, no seam allowances. I added at the top an inch and a quarter extra for a hem band that would be turned to the inside. Its top edge would be meeting the lining with a seam.  I cut it out and used a bottle to get a nice curve on the two bottom corners. I folded the paper in half lining up the squares to get it perfectly even.  I cut it out while folded so that everything was perfectly symmetrical. I then  took double stick tape and glued the graph paper pattern to some oak tag to make a permanent template. You will need this thickness for this process so don't skip the oak tag. 

Next, pin two squares of fashion fabric, right sides together. Make sure your grains are the same and the pattern mirrors and or matches as needed. You can see my fabric has a distinct diagonal pattern. I made sure it matched the bodice of the garment before going any further. You will need squares large enough to add seam allowances. Pin them on the outside edges.

Take your template and apply double stick tape to the back. Place it on grain on your squares and press down in place. Let's go to the machine. 

If you have an edge stitching foot, it really helps here.  Set your machine at a basting stitch. I used 4.0. Starting at the top, sew all around your template right at the edge of the oaktag. Do not sew across the top of the pocket. When done take out your pins, pull off your template, and you will have this. 

I know, you are thinking, "is she lining the pocket with more wool?" No, just trust me here. 

Next you will trim the excess to a 5/8ths seam allowance and notch your curves. Press the seams open.  

Now you will turn your pocket right side out and give it a good solid press on all those seams.  Leave it to totally cool and dry.  Seems like you pressed it more than needed, right? Once again, trust me. 

 When it is cool and dry, reach inside and give a snip to your stitching. pull out the basting and separate into two pockets. Press again lightly. Camera angle makes these look uneven. They are not. 

Add a strip of interfacing to your top hem band, fold it over and steam the hem  into place.  

We are now ready to go into the lining. Top stitch your pocket at this point also. It can be done later as well but I did mine now a quarter inch away, as it was unraveling so quickly. 

This is an interesting method I learned from a Nancy Zieman program years ago. Thank you, Nancy, once again, for all you've taught me.  It is a bit counter intuitive but easy and a great tool for  your sewing tool chest. 

Cut out two blocks of lining fabric, about a half inch all around larger than your pockets. They can be short on the bottom because what you see above is pinned to the hem band edge and that will be coming down and inch and a quarter. They must be larger. Stitch them across at the hem band with a 1/4 inch seam allowance STARTING IN  A 1/4 INCH AND ENDING A 1/4 INCH from the end of the pockets, not the lining.  Do not sew this seam from the edge or end it at the edge of the pocket, very important. 

Press and turn the hem band and fold toward the wrong side as done above. Pin the pocket securely to the lining. Take your ruler and a pen, pencil or marker of sorts and draw all around the pocket right up close to the edge. Cut about a quarter inch away from that. 

This is further along in the process above but you see what you end up with. The lining has the outline  of the pocket drawn on  and excess fabric a quarter inch or so away has been trimmed. No need for perfection in cutting here, just some space. 

The next thing you want to do is lay out your bodice pieces matching  and using a ruler or two to locate exactly where you want your pockets to go. Be aware of future seam lines you need to sew as well as hem depths. Line up your pockets and pin the top edges in place. Flip the pockets  up and line up the linings below. Double check for straight lines with your ruler. Remember, those lines you drew on the linings were the exact outline of the pockets. Pin or baste those linings securely in place. You will ONLY sew around the sides and bottom. Now you will go to the machine. Arrange your presser foot so your stitching line is 3/8ths inch inside of the drawn line. In other words you will be stitching the lining pocket smaller than the drawn line on the lining by 3/8ths of an inch. Do not sew the hem band seam allowance down. LIFT UP the seam allowance of the hem band and start sewing there, under the hem band seam, NOT ACROSS THE HEM BAND. When done, sew the hem band sides down up to the hem band seam allowance. Let that little hem band seam allowance float. Use a smaller stitch in the hem band sides for extra security on the top of the pocket. Now to the ironing board.

You will iron all lining seam allowances toward the center of the  pocket. They have not been ironed in yet in the pic above.This is why you need them free at the junction of the pocket and lining. Just press them all in, no need to trim or fuss and it will keep your lining stronger. Now just flip down your pocket. The lining disappears! Look inside your pocket. There it is all pretty and finished! You can either top stitch some  more, blind stitch on the machine, or hand stitch  the outer pocket into place now. I chose to hand stitch as I wanted to watch a bit of TV. You can see a bit of my earlier top stitch but the fabric camouflages that pretty much. All done here and easy peasy, just a matter of following the steps.

With my fabric it is hard to even tell that my pocket is perfectly symmetrical, but it is. It looks lovely in person despite playing a game of camo on the dress form! My next post will be on the vest itself which has been fun to make and a challenge of my own making! More to come........Bunny


  1. I've sewn lots of pockets, but never using this method; I love this method! Thanks!

    1. You're welcome, Ellen. I've since decided I need some sort of decorative element on this vest, maybe on the pockets. It's all looking pretty boring. More to come!

  2. Replies
    1. You're welcome! My pockets look so unexciting but they are really nice in person. I finished the vest completely today. I think I will look for some embellishment tomorrow and then post.


Engaging commentary:

Sewing Linen, Covid Garment #3

Linen is my absolute favorite fabric to sew and probably to  wear as well. Before I can explain  my favorite method for its construction...