Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pockets IX- Patch Pockets With Yokes - Pleated

was supposed to have been the pocket I used to introduce yokes - it is flat and has a single pleat. Easy, and neat.

Instead I ended up taking all my photos of that other more fiddly pocket.
As a result of that mixup, there are - ack - very few photos in this post. In their place, you get some bland commentary. It must be your lucky day! Not.

Right, so these are the kinds of pockets you find on safari suits and maybe moonlighting as cargo pockets on a diet. We make them because we want a roomy pocket that lies flat when it is empty and doesn't gape open.

Start with your main pocket piece, pleated to its finished size (plus serged seam allowances). Look - I was so lazy that I left the selvedge in on the right side, just so I didn't have to serge it.

You'll also need a little yoke piece that's the same width as the finished pocket, and twice the height (so it can be folded over).

Attach the yoke - see the previous post for the how to.

Top-stitch the yoke for decorative effect.

Then fold in and top-stitch the sides and bottom edge onto the garment.

Note: I am not doing a tutorial on cargo pockets. Main reason is that there are tutorials on the internet already. Also I cannot envision myself making a garment needing cargo pockets, in the next 5 years, at least. I do use a lot of roomy and/or gusset-type pockets in my bags and backpacks, some cargo-like and some zippered. They would look hideous on clothes, but on their own are interesting enough to have their own post later on.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pockets VIII - Patch Pockets With Yokes - Gathered

We're upping the fanciness factor on our patch pockets now in the next few posts! We're going to add yokes to the tops of our pockets, introducing the possibility of a second fabric - coordinating or contrasting, plus trims and piping. Yokes, as I understand them, are snugly-fitting pieces of fabric sewn over (usually) more roomy pieces, which are often gathered, pleated, smocked or otherwise reduced in width to match that of the yoke. They allow ease in the lower region while maintaining a closer fit in the upper region. This function aside, they can also be added purely for decorative purposes.

The following method is the more elegant of two methods I use for making a yoke for pockets. It tucks all the funny raw corner bits inside itself, which makes for a more professional finish, but it does take some thinking ahead, which doesn't always happen in my sewing world.

Speaking of thinking (or the absence thereof), this first yoked pocket also happens to be a puffy gathered thing, the construction of which required its own mini-tutorial at the end of this one. I hadn't intended to use this puffy pocket to introduce yokes because it makes the whole tutorial longer and more complicated than it actually needs to be. My apologies. Clearly I wasn't thinking linearly when I planned this.

Step 1
Pick your fabrics, and cut out the main pocket piece, as well as a rectangular piece for the yoke.
Notice that the yoke piece is about half as long as the main pocket (which we will gather). Also the yoke piece will be folded in half so make it twice as high as it needs to be. This probably makes no sense now, so look at the photos later.

Serge all edges of the main pocket, except for the top edge, which will be tucked into the yoke and doesn't need finishing.

Step 2
Decide how much of the top edge you will be tucking into the yoke, and note the position of the bottom edge of the yoke on the main pocket piece.
Then sew a line of long stitches on either side of this line and begin gathering.

Step 3
Place the yoke piece on the gathered pocket piece, right sides facing, as shown. Sew to attach the yoke piece to the pocket piece.

  • the sides of the yoke piece extend a little beyond the sides of the main pocket piece - this is the seam allowance of the yoke.
  • the stitching line does not extend to the side edges of the yoke. This is, again, a seam allowance issue.

Step 4
Fold up the yoke piece and press the seam flat.

Step 5
Fold the yoke piece down again along the mid-line as shown.
Fold up the bottom edge of the yoke - this is the hem allowance.

Step 6
Sew the edges of the folded yoke as shown.

Step 7
Trim the excess bit of pocket above the yoke piece.
Also trim the corners of the yoke piece to reduce bulk when turning out.

Step 8
Turn the yoke piece right side out. All the messy bits are enclosed - whoo.

This is the back side of the pocket -

complete with stitches after stitching-in-the-ditch on the right side. Note how the serged sides of the main pocket piece are folded in and ready for top-stitching to the garment.

And this is the completed pocket, ready to sew onto a garment!

We'd already made a flat gathered pocket here, so for variety, here's how to make the puffier version.

Step 1
Sew gathering stitches along the curved edge of the pocket.

Step 2
Pin the upper portion of the pocket in place on the garment and begin gathering the curved edge to shape.

Step 3
Pin around the curved edge to hold the entire pocket in place on the garment.
Make adjustments on the gathering threads as needed - tighter or looser -

so that it sits neatly under the pins.

Step 4
Then top-stitch around the curved edge of the pocket. I am not crazy about this gathering method of doing curves because I find it hard to get a smooth curve tucked in - see the weird gaps and bumps in the bottom-most edge of the pocket below. Lacks finesse.

Still, vile or not, the method accomplishes its purpose - to create a puffy pocket whose edge is stitched down flat.

Can you tell I don't like, let alone do, puffy much?

Next: pleated, smocked and piped variations on the yoked pocket.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Pockets VII - Shirred Patch Pockets

This is another variation of the simple curved patch pocket - we're shirring the opening i.e. using elastic thread to scrunch up the top edge and still leave it stretchy.

Step 1
Start out with a piece of fabric of this shape. Its width should be at least twice the finished width of the pocket. Shirring is an inexact technique in that one cannot predict the ratio of contraction - it depends on the tension of the threads.

I did a rolled hem on the top edge and serged the curved edge to finish them.

Step 2
Using elastic thread in the bobbin and regular thread on top, sew four (or however many you'd like) lines of shirring. I would've preferred a looser tension, but this is how it turned out:

Your pocket is essentially finished, and just needs to be attached to the garment by folding in and top-stitching down the curved sides. But unless you planned ahead and used contrasting colored thread, it's awfully booooooooring.

So take embroidery thread -not floss- (I used DMC #5) and weave patterns through the shirring stitches:

and then sew the pocket onto the garment:

Because the shirring ended up being so tight, I stretched the opening a little so it wouldn't look quite so much like an old-fashioned money bag.

Note that this is shirring. Not the same as smocking, which does NOT involve elastic thread, and whose stretchiness is entirely the result of the dense pleating that smocking produces. Very common mistake to use the two terms interchangeably. See here and here for more on smocking. We'll be doing a smocked pocket later on in this series too!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


One of the nicest things about blogging is meeting all kinds of very nice people with similar interests. Often, it begins with a comment they leave - and sometimes, things take off and we get to know each other a little better by email. Sometimes not. And because I'm plonked in a culture that wasn't mine from birth, it is doubly interesting to correspond with people in like circumstances.

A while back, I got to know two lovely people this way. Neither currently lives full-time in the USA like I do, but both have spent some time here. I don't actually remember how our conversations began, but I'm sure it had to do with sewing. We were all at the time mothers of newborns or expecting newborns, so add
that to our having one foot in one culture and the other in a second/third, and we had some interesting things to talk about.

At some point we thought it would be fun to do a swap and send each other a parcelful of things from the different countries we're now living in. We gave ourselves a modest budget, promptly exceeded said budget, and employed extremely flexible deadlines. Mothers of multiple small(ish) children need to cut themselves a LOT of slack, and we did just that.

Last month, those packages made their journey across the world and arrived at our homes! I don't know who was more excited - me or the kids, to see each one arrive. "Is it from your friend in another country, mum?" Emily asked each time. "Let's open it now!" It was such a treat to open each package and see and touch treasures that had come from far away - things that were quite ordinary in the country they left, but so ooh-worthy and novel and exciting to us here.

Here's what came all the way from Japan, from Christine, who writes on her beautiful Origami Mommy blog. Christine is the mother of four children, she's Korean-American, and spends time in both Japan and America. She is a freelance writer and the author of this book and she has a new book coming out in Feb 2011, with a craft kit! She sews lovely, lovely things and makes cardboard stuff. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Winner of a combination.

Most of these have already been hijacked by the kids. I managed to snatch them back for photos.

All the fabric is mine, though, as is this inspiration mag:

I want this dress.

See- even though I don't read Japanese - it already makes more sense than packets of commercial patterns! I am quite, quite in love with this magazine.

The second package came from Ms Muffin in Germany who writes on her beautiful blog Muffins and More. She is the sweetest thing, and I have so enjoyed writing to her about anything and everything under the sun - life, parenting, sewing, food......... Ms Muffin (and I shall call her by this secret code name because it is more exciting this way) is the mother of two, and sews, bakes and makes the charmingest, to-die-for clay pins and buttons in her shop.

Like these handbag and toadstool pins she sent in her package, along with this pincushion. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

I am already scheming about this fabric. Dolly beanbags, anyone?

Toy catalogs - so much inspiration. Jenna has already asked for fabric ice cream cones.

And this gem of a book -

full of ideas - and anything in wood can also be made in cardboard. All those toys! Quick, before the girls grow up!

Maisy! In German!

That folds out soooooooooooooooooo loooooooooooooooooong!
Ms Muffin kindly sent along the translation but we attempted to read it in German anyway, much to the husband's (who can speak some German) amusement.

Thank you, ladies for the gifts and friendship that transcend boundary lines and culture! And for the marvelous inspiration - language not required.