April 7, 2015

Tutorial: Patchwork YOUR Pockets

Or, how I made my patchwork pockets & hopefully clear and understandable directions to make your own!

In my last post, I wrote about my entry for the March Stashbusting Challenge of the 2015 Historical Sew Monthly hosted by the Dreamstress.  Making these patchwork pockets was a fast, fun and fulfilling way to use up some of those small scraps from past, historical projects!  Now, I can hardly wait for the season to begin so I can start wearing mine.  I also promised a tutorial, and without further ado, here is how I made them:

  • Paper for your pattern & a pencil
  • Fabric scraps for your patchwork front (for each pocket, I selected six different reproduction cottons or homespun)
  • Sturdy cotton or linen for the back (although, if you would like the back of your pocket to be patchwork as well, go for it!)
  • Cotton or light-weight linen for the lining and bias binding, if you choose to make your own
  • Basic sewing supplies: sewing machine and/or needle & matching thread, sharp scissors

Creating a pocket pattern

 First, determine how large you want your finished pocket to be, and then add a half an inch seam allowance all around.  I chose to make my pockets 9" wide by 13" inches tall (seam allowance included).

Starting with a rectangle your approximate dimensions (my paper therefore was 9" by 13"), fold the paper in half, crease well along the fold, and draw your intended "pocket shape."  I rounded the bottom corner and tapered in the side edge up to the top.

Cut along your pencil lines and unfold the paper for a perfectly even pocket pattern!

At this time, you may also want to mark your pocket slit.  Draw a straight line along the center crease from the top edge of the pattern piece to the length you choose.  Then, add 1/8" allowance on each side.  The pocket slit should be large enough for your hand to fit, but not too large that your items fall out.  (I chose to make my pocket slits 5 1/2" in length).

Assembling a patchwork pocket

Step one: Assemble the patchwork.
Patchwork or "pieced work" is a form of needlework that involves sewing together pieces of fabric into a larger design. The larger design is usually based on repeat patterns built up with different fabric shapes, which can be different colors. These shapes are carefully measured and cut, basic geometric shapes making them easy to piece together.

My mother always says, when it comes to quilts, the scrappier the better!  This is the time to be as creative as you want:  you can make your pocket as scrappy as you want like my mother, or as simple.  You can work with large fabric scraps or teeny tiny scraps.  Crazy patch or follow a neat and ordered pattern.  The possibilities are endless!

Once you have decided on your design (or to just wing it), gather your fabric scraps and stitch & cut or cut & stitch together a rectangle that is the approximate dimension of of your pocket's size determined above.  (Mine, therefore, was 9" wide by 13" tall.)  Keep in mind where your pocket slit and edges will fall and try to plan accordingly by not placing seams or small details where they will be cut off or bound.  Iron flat.

Step two: Cut out all of the pieces.

Using your custom-made pocket pattern, pin and cut out the pocket front from your patchwork rectangle, the back from your sturdy cotton or linen, and two more from the lining fabric.  Don't cut the pocket slit yet!  You should have four separate pieces.

If you've chosen to make your own bias binding, also cut your bias strips.  The width of the binding is up to you; however, I would recommend no smaller than a quarter of an inch.  My bias strips were 1.5" (blue pocket) or 2" for 1/2" double fold bias tape (red pocket) in width.  Join, press and set aside for now.

Step three: Stitch the pocket fronts and lining together.

Rather than having to fiddle around with a lining later, flat line (treat the outer fabric and lining as one) the pocket for a simpler and neater finish.  Match the pocket front with the front lining, and the back with the back lining, wrong sides together.  Run a narrow row of stitches by hand or machine around the entire edge of each.  You should have two separate sides or pieces.

Step four: Cut & bind the pocket slit.

Mark the pocket slit from your pattern piece on the lining of the front piece (remember this is the one with the pretty patchwork!).  Cut this opening through both layers of the front pieces with sharp scissors (dressmaker's sheers or embroidery scissors work well here).

Then, bind the edge with bias tape.  If the bias tape won't lay flat at the bottom of the pocket slit, try either gathering the extra fabric and easing it in to fit, or tucking the extra fabric under at the corners.  (Afterwards, pat yourself on the back for completing the most difficult part of the project ;)

Outside of pocket slit.

Inside of pocket slit.

Step five: Stitch the pocket together.

Now, pin your front piece to the back piece, linings together.  Stitch, either by hand or machine, a quarter inch seam around the entire pocket.  (I stitched around the entire pocket twice.)  Make sure to reinforce the bottom edge and top near the pocket opening, perhaps with another row or two of stitches.  You now should have a working pocket!

Step six: Bind the outer edges.

Cover the raw edges (and machine stitching) by applying your bias tape along the sides and across the bottom edge.

Step seven: Finish the top edge.  

Finally, apply bias tape (remember to fold in a little extra tape at each end for a clean finish) across the top edge.  To wear around your waist, stitch on cotton ties (twill tape works really well for this).

And, ta-da, you have a finished patchwork pocket 
to fill with your period and modern items, show off & enjoy!

So, what do you think?  Let me know if you make your own pockets by adding a link below (I want to see pictures!).  Happy patchwork-ing!


  1. This looks pretty easy to follow. I just skimmed for now and looked at the pictures. I may make one and will certainly post my link if I do. quilting anything has always been a little scary for me, but I want to get better at it and I think making this pocket would help me with that! :)

    1. Oh I am so very happy to hear this, Jill! I sure hope the directions prove easy to follow...if not, please let me know and I will certainly try to clear up any confusion! I really can't wait to see yours - I know it will be absolutely, positively lovely!! Thank you for the lovely comment, Anneliese :)


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