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.


  1. Thank you for all pocket tutorials, I have enjoyed them and am plaining on trying a few out this month. Very helpful.

  2. Great tutorial!! I linked to it over at Craft Gossip Sewing:


  3. My little girl is a Type 1 Diabetic. I sew very basic patch pockets onto tank tops for her insulin pump. I think I will try this one and give her something fancier. Thank you so much for sharing!! I think I will add a little velcro on the inside of the top so the pump is secure. If you ever get around to a video that would be great. :)

  4. I sew pockets onto tank tops for my daughter's insulin pump. I think I am going to try and fancy them up a bit. Thank you so much for sharing!


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