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How-to

Pattern Hack: Pocket Change

3 ways to modify a classic patch style

Threads #205, Oct./Nov. 2019
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Using a simple patch pocket pattern, you can create many pocket styles, like the pleated version shown.

Pockets are places to put your hands and your possessions, and they provide an opportunity for design exploration. Pocket construction requires a range of skills and attention to detail, but with clear instructions, interesting and stylish versions are possible for sewers of all experience levels.

The three designs shown on these pages are a good place to start in modifying pockets. They are based on the same patch pocket pattern piece and become something different. In addition to the changes shown, you can add piping, change the flap width, or double the number of pleats. One-of-a-kind pockets are a great way to add  air to a garment.

 

foldover flap pocket

Add a foldover flap

The flap on this pocket style is integrated into the pocket itself, so it’s easier to draft, sew, and attach than a separate flap. The 21⁄2-inch-deep flap is flipped toward the outside of the pocket.

1.  Draft the pattern pieces

To make the pocket and lining pattern, cut away the opening edge’s facing. Add a 5/8-inch-wide seam allowance to this edge, the pocket top. For the flap, draft a rectangle 6 1/4 inches high by the pocket pattern’s width. That creates a piece that is twice the finished 2 1/2-inch depth plus two 5/8-inch-wide seam allowances.

2. Cut out the pattern pieces

Cut the pocket piece from fashion fabric and lining fabric. Cut the flap piece from fashion fabric. Fold the flap piece in half widthwise, and mark the foldline with small snips at each end.

3. Connect the pieces

With right sides together, stitch one long edge of the flap piece to the top of the pocket piece, and stitch the other long edge of the flap piece to the top of the lining piece. Open the pieces and press the seam allowances toward the flap.

4. Stitch the pocket

With right sides together, fold the composite piece in half at the snip marks in the flap piece. Match and pin the side and bottom edges. Stitch around the three edges, leaving a 1 1/2-inch- to 2-inch-wide turning opening at the bottom.

5. Trim the seam allowances close to the stitching

Turn the pocket and flap right side out through the bottom opening, using a point turner to form the corners. Press.

6. Secure the flap

Stitch in the ditch where the flap meets the pocket, to keep the flap in place. Press the flap toward the outside of the pocket.

7. Attach the pocket

Position and stitch the pocket to your garment only as far as the flap foldline. This secures the pocket and closes the opening where the pocket was turned. Back-tack to reinforce the top of the pocket under the flap near the fold.

 

pleated pocket

Include a pleat

This patch pocket has a single inverted box pleat—a military or safari look—that can be easily combined with a foldover flap or other detail.

1. Draft the pattern pieces

Cut the pocket piece the width of the finished pocket plus seam allowances, plus twice the width of the desired finished pleat. For a 2-inch pleat, for example, cut the pocket piece the width of the pocket plus seam allowances plus 4 inches. Create a lining pattern piece that is the width of the finished pocket, with 5/8-inchwide seam allowances on all sides.

2. Cut out the pattern pieces

Cut one pocket piece and one lining piece from the same fabric.

3. Stitch the pleat ends

With right sides together, fold the pocket piece in half lengthwise. Stitch the top inch and the bottom inch, parallel to the folded edge and as far away as the width of the finished pleat (2 inches away in our example). Press the folded edge to define the pleat’s center.

4. Define the pleat

From the pocket’s wrong side, flatten and press the pleat in place, matching the pleat’s center with the stitching line. Baste across the pleat ends.

5. Attach the lining

With right sides together, stitch around the pocket, leaving a 11⁄2-inch- to 2-inch-long turning opening at the bottom.

6. Trim the seam allowances

Turn the pocket right side out and press, making sure the pleat is neat.

7. Secure the pocket

Position and stitch the pocket to your garment. Use additional stitching to reinforce the top corners.

 

draped pocket

Gather the edge for soft volume

For an unstructured pocket, add volume to the top and bottom and use a drapey fabric. To make this pocket type, you must reshape the pattern piece.

1. Draft the pattern pieces

Remove any foldover or seam allowance from the pattern’s top edge. Draw three vertical lines on the pocket pattern, dividing it into quarters. Cut the pattern apart along the lines. Spread the pocket top by about 11⁄2 inches at each slash, and the bottom by 1⁄2 inch at each slash. From the outer corners, draw parallel horizontal lines to reestablish the pocket’s bottom and top edges.

2. Cut the pattern piece from fabric

Fold the pocket in half lengthwise, with right sides together. Stitch the bottom inch, parallel to and 3⁄4 inch from the folded edge, to form an inverted pleat. Press the folded edge.

3. Define the pleat

From the pocket’s wrong side, flatten and press the pleat into place, matching the pleat’s center crease with the stitching line. Baste across the pleat’s end.

4. Gather the top edge

Stitch close to the pocket’s edge with a long stitch, then pull the bobbin thread. Gather the top edge along the stitches, until it’s 1 inch to 2 inches wider than the original pocket.

5. Bind the top edge

With right sides together and raw edges aligned, stitch 2-inch-wide self-fabric bias tape to the pocket’s top edge with a 1⁄2-inchwide seam allowance. Press the bias tape away from the pocket. Press 1⁄2 inch of the bias tape’s free edge under, then fold this edge to the pocket’s wrong side, aligning the fold just below the binding seamline. Stitch in the ditch from the right side to secure.

6. Finish the sides and bottom edge

Staystitch around the pocket’s unfinished edges , then press them to the wrong side.

7. Attach the pocket

Position the pocket so the top band droops just slightly and edgestitch the pocket to the garment, reinforcing the top corners. Turn the pocket inside out and trim the seam allowances if desired.

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