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Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Let's talk pockets - and some free pocket templates

As well as having a practical purpose, pockets can be a great decorative feature for children's clothes. And kids love them. It's very easy to design pockets, but in case you don't want to design your own, I have some templates for you. 

Here's a little pair of reversible trousers in age 9-12 months. I made them so the pocket on each face would be on the left leg. These were tiny pockets, each just a simple rectangle with the edges turned in - just big enough to get a little Duplo figure in, for example, or a little dinosaur.

And these little plasticized toddler play aprons each have a single layer round-bottomed pocket attached, edged with double-fold bias binding tape. Useful for putting the crayons in, or mixing spoons while baking!


To get more pocket ideas, or to find about more about how to make pockets, and to find my templates, read on!


Pockets can be external or internal, and can be hidden, or a feature. They can be very simple, or very complicated. On the whole, I'm a believer in less is more. I rarely find something more complicated produced a bigger reward than some thing simple when it comes to pockets. On balance, I prefer to attach a pocket while the garment is being constructed, but there are some types of pocket that can be added later. 

To find my templates, go to the bottom of this page.

First, let's look at external applied pockets, sometimes called patch pockets. The one below was again a very simple design, more or less square with the two bottom corners angled off, making a six-sided pocket. A single layer of fabric, but with a bias binding edge, was used so as not to increase the bulk on this baby romper. Just for fun, I also made a little gonk using one of the little monsters on the fabric, double-layered with a tiny bit of batting stuffed between the layers. It was attached with a bit of ribbon  to the top of the pocket so that it could be inserted in the pocket or taken out to play with, but it wouldn't get lost. I'm sorry that I don't have a better picture than this, but she grew so quickly!


In fact, in what seemed to be no time at all, she'd grown into an active 4 year-old, able to demand her new shorts would have back pockets.These were double-layered, with the opening edge being a fold. I liked the idea of making them on the diagonal to contrast with the vertical stripes of her shorts. She wore and wore these. You'll find my template for these at the end of the post. 


You can see something of the construction of these pockets in these pictures. As I mentioned, they were cut on a folded piece of fabric. I sewed them, folded at the top, with the right sides inwards, all the way round the opening edges but for a gap on one side. Then I notched round the curve.


To make turning them the right way out easier and neater, I next pressed the edges where the gap was along the seam lines. Then, when I turned them out, I already had the edges of the gap turned in.  Once they were pressed, they were ready to attach.


Then I simply pinned them where I wanted on the back of the shorts, and over-sewed them on the three sides (not the top opening!), including the gap. I made sure to go back and forth a couple of times at the top of the sides to reinforce the top edge. Sometimes I sew a little triangle at each side of the top to give it extra support. If you want to, you can do the stitching round using a double needle. This can give a more finished or professional look, and is often used on jeans. I've used it only once or twice myself, I'm generally in such a hurry to finish so the clothes can be worn, that I can't face changing the needle on the machine. But by all means, do double stitch if you want to, it can look very effective.

Next, another double-sided pocket, this time used singly on the front of a pinafore dress. This one is a little larger, and rather than curved bottom corners, it has them angled. But exactly the same method of construction. The template for this one is also at the end of this post.


For the breast pocket on this jersey dress, used mainly for decorative purposes, I used exactly the same method, except that the gap I left was in one of the bottom diagonal seams.


Note another variation on shape, this one having five sides rather than six.


I found this applied external pocket approach very useful when making some superhero shorts out of what was really too little fabric. I only had a couple of fat quarters out of which to get this little pair of size 4 shorts. So I had tried to save fabric by joining and overlapping the front and back pattern pieces so I didn't need to have a side seam. However, once I had cut them out, and started to tack together the inside leg seams and the crutch seam, I thought, Hmm, that means no side seam into which to insert a side seam pocket. No pockets! That's not going to be popular. But I did have some little scraps left after cutting out the waistband. And to my delight, I was able to cut out a couple of rectangles that enabled me to match the pattern beautifully. This time, because of the small amounts of fabric I had, I wasn't able to make these with a fold at the top. I had to cut other somewhat random bits of fabric to make the linings, so there was also a seam at the top.

Right at the top of this post, I mentioned that I like to attach pockets which constructing a garment, but these shorts were already half constructed. Luckily, I was able to unpick some of my tacking stitches so that I could attach the pockets to a flat surface each side.


You are allowed to admire the pattern matching! (And see also how I'd had to cut right into the selvedge to cut the pattern out. That didn't worry me as it would be within the seam allowance. 



Hopefully you'll have got the idea now of how useful patch pockets can be, how many different shapes they can be, and you are raring to design your own. However, you may still be interested in the templates I've made - you can download those free below.

Next, let's look at side seam pockets, commonly used in shorts or trousers, but sometimes in dresses, too. I will mostly cover internal pockets, which may be hidden, or visible. They do need to be attached during construction. So you need to think ahead if you want to include them. (Having said that, I have recently split open a side seam in some women's ready-to-wear trousers to add a side pocket, so it's not impossible, but it is much easier to do it as you sew up the side seams.)

Here's what I mean by hidden in-seam pockets. In both of these pairs of shorts, the pocket is inserted within the side seam, and is almost invisible in normal wear. I've had to pull the pockets about a bit in order to be able to photograph them.




In fact, you might not notice the pockets at all until someone puts their hands in them. Yes, it's the same dress from earlier, with the applied breast pocket, but it also has hidden side pockets. You'll find how these are constructed below, and I also have a template for an in-seam pocket.


You need to cut two pieces for each pocket from the template, one the mirror images of the other. Then each piece should be separately attached, right sides together, to the back and front of the side seam respectively. On this pair of shorts, the pattern contains a front and back joined at the inner leg seam, so the pieces of the pocket are at opposite ends of one leg piece. Make sure that the pieces are at the same height on front and back relative to the top, and the tops of the pockets are lined up with the seam allowance where the waistline will attach to the waistband. (Or just below is fine, too.)


Then, when you join the side seam of each leg, sew down the little bit above the pocket, then ROUND the open edges of the pocket, and continue down the rest of the side seam of the leg. (In other words, don't sew the pocket closed!)


Here's another one (yes, I know it looks similar, this is when some of the girls especially liked pink!). This one has a separate back and front piece to each leg.


Here you can see the finished shorts for this last pair - can't see the pockets, can you? That's because they are hidden!


I've included in my templates some further pockets suitable for side seams, though these are intended to be seen. There are two variations, a slanting pocket, drawn with a dotted line (you often get this on boys's trousers, but it's also suitable for girls) and a curved pocket (solid line). Both of these can be used to make an internal or external pocket. Note that the actual template has a curve for the bottom left corner, not a right-angle, I just found this too difficult to do for this diagram. This below shows sewing lines.


Let's start with the simpler external pocket. You make them pretty much the same as the applied pockets at the top of this post, by sewing the two pieces right sides together, leaving a gap, and after clipping any curves, you turn them out and press them. The difference is that the top will be enclosed within the waistband, and the short side will be encased in the side seam, so there is no need to sew these up. So that's where I leave the gaps for turning. 

Below is a pair of (sorry, pink again!) pockets for some little navy shorts. (These used an older and smaller version of my template.)  In this case, I actually didn't have any side seams on the shorts, so I haven;t been able to leave a gap in the short side. These ended up as a sort of hybrid patch pocket / side seam pocket. (On these pockets, I also included some pink gingham piping on the pocket's edge - you can see a bit poking out of the top of the one on the right. You can do this on most type of pocket with a seam. 



My other tip before turning them out, is to press the seam allowance in where you've left a gap (see the red striped shorts above) to make it easier the line up the open edges neatly.


These were then attached under the waistband (wrong side of the pocket to right side of the shorts) and over-sewn round the long curved side and bottom. They were also over-sewn on the short side seam. Normally, I wouldn't have turned in the hems on this side, because it would also have been attached within the side seam.


You can also get a similar look, but I would say a neater finish, by using the same templates as internal pockets.




To do this, you need to cut a 'front' pocket using the curved or slanted cutting line. This can be of your main fabric, or a contrasting fabric, but it won't show very much. Use the same 'front' pocket template to re-draw the side seam of the shorts or trousers. (It could be the skirt of a dress with a bodice as well. The main requirement is side seams and a waist band or bodice.) 
You also need to cut a 'back' pocket piece using the lines with long dashes on the template, so it is squared off at the top. Pin the 'front' pocket piece right sides together with the front of the shorts, matching the curve or slanted line. Sew this line, then turn out and press wrong sides together. (If using the curved pocket, clip the curves carefully to neaten the edge,)

Flip it over, and now pin the back pocket piece to the front pocket piece, right sides together, and sew round the bottom and the long left-hand edge (ignore the dotted line round the curved edge in this diagram - you've already sewn that seam). This will actually be a curved line, as the template has a small curve on the bottom left.


Then sew up the side seam of the shorts, including the squared edge of the pocket.

Pockets seen here at a later stage, while the waistband is being pinned, but you can see the side seams.



Now you can proceed with the rest of the making up of the shorts.

For the two pairs below, I used a contrasting fabric to make the 'back' pockets pieces. 




Although there are many other styles for pockets, these are the ones for which I've provided the templates and a tutorial. 

I'll mention only one other style for now.  That's the welt or double welt pocket, often used on waistcoats (I think, confusingly to Brits, called vests in the USA). It's not my favourite pocket - I'm not a really neat sewer, and I only got a B+ for my efforts at school. There are lots of You Tube videos showing you how, but I've ceased using You Tube as I only get adverts! However, here are a couple of useful tutorials if you want to have a try yourself.

One from Bluprint.

And one from So Sew Easy.


There you go! Lots of pockets ideas, and some free templates, with a tutorial, which you can find here.









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