Learn how to sew patch pockets that are lined or unlined. A patch pocket is a great way to add something functional and decorative to a garment. The patch pocket can use up scraps or make a contrasting addition to your pattern. They can even disguise a hole or nasty stain. A favorite garment can be saved by the addition of a patch pocket and no one needs to know that the patch was not part of the original design.
How to Sew Patch Pockets
Patch pockets can be lined or unlined. Lined pockets are best for curved shapes whereas unlined patch pockets are best for pockets with straight edges. Unlined pockets can be found on shirt fronts and on the back of jeans. Here I will show you both methods.
How to Sew Patch Pockets that are Lined
Step 1 - Make a Pattern
Choose the size and shape of the pocket. If you are following a commercial pattern there may be a pattern piece for the pocket. But if you are making your own pocket design then draw one out on paper to the size you require. A good basic suggestion is to use the size of your hand to gauge the size of the pocket. Add on seam allowances of at least ¼ inch (6mm). Smaller seams work well when there are curves in your patch pockets.
Step 2 - Cutting
Cut out your 2 pieces of fabric from your pocket pattern. Thin fabrics may require you to use fusible interfacing on the wrong side of the inside pocket piece.
Step 3 - Stitch
Put the pocket pieces with right sides together and stitch all the way around, leaving a 1 ½-inch (4cm) gap on one side. It is best to leave the gap on a straight edge if possible.
Step 4 - Clip and Turn
Clip the corners and curves of the patch pocket, leaving the gap untouched. Pinking shears make this really easy.
Step 5 - Turn and Press
Turn the patch pocket the right way out through the gap. The fabric at the gap will be pressed to the inside so that it is invisible. Your pocket is now ready to attach to your garment.
Step 6 - Attach the Pocket
Place the pocket on the garment and pin it in place. Baste if you prefer this method of securing the pocket before sewing it onto the fabric.
Sew the patch pocket in place with a matching or contrasting thread. Reinforce the pocket at the top side edges to ensure the pocket holds fast at the edge.
How to Sew Patch Pockets that are Unlined
Unlined patch pockets are best for square, rectangular or geometric shapes. They don't work for pockets with curves.
- Trace the shape of your patch pocket.
- Add at least 1 inch (2.5cm) to the top and ¼ inch (6mm) on the sides and bottom of your pattern for seam allowance.
- Cut one piece of fabric for the pocket.
- Press in the seam allowance of the sides and bottom.
- Neaten the top edge with either a serger or zi-zag stitch. Fold down and press the top edge by the seam allowance. Typically the top edges are not sewn across when making patch pockets for shirts.
- Place the patch pocket on the garment and pin it in place. Stitch all the way around with a straight stitch making sure you reinforce the top corners.
Tips for Sewing Patch Pockets
Here are some tips to consider to make the best patch pocket.
- SIZING - This depends on whether the pocket is decorative or functional. For a functional pocket your hand will be the guide for the size of the pattern.
- PLACEMENT - Place the pattern carefully on the fabric taking the pattern and print designs into account. If you have a one way fabric design, it is important the pocket is cut the correct way up.
- STABILIZE - Make the pocket opening stable as a pocket can take some stress and strain. Use some interfacing at the top to stabilise the fabric and give it more body.
- ACCURACY - The sewing of pockets has to be accurate because the effects can be spoiled if the edges and sizes differ. Use a seam guide or tape measure to make sure the pockets are sewn and turned exactly as they should be.
- ATTACHING - It is best to attach the pocket when the garment is laid flat. Check the markings for Tthe positioning the pocket and be sure it is exactly right before sewing.
- TOPSTITCHING - Once the pockets are in place you may want to add some fancy top stitching. You can reset your machine to a longer stitch length to look like saddle stitching or just keep it plain. Try a double row for effect and reinforce the corners where the pocket takes the most strain.
How to Sew Patch Pockets that are Creative
Patch pockets do not have to be just a square. There are different shapes and sizes to opt for. Patch pockets may have a flap or be shaped at the bottom like an arrow or just trimmed across the corner. It is very easy to get creative with patch pockets. Here are some ideas:
- Cut the pocket in a contrasting fabric or use stripes facing a different direction.
- Bind the edges of the pocket before attaching it to the fabric.
- Add ribbons and bows to the top of the pocket.
- Appliqué on the front of the pocket.
- Make the pocket out of layers of different fabrics.
- Make pocket shapes like a tulip or embroider the edge.
- Add lace or broiderie anglaise to the pocket.
- Embroider initials on the pocket.
How to Sew Patch Pockets - In Conclusion
Patch pockets are an established part of every pair of jeans and most of the casual pants we wear. If you couldn’t put your hands on your hips and slide them into a pocket your jeans would not feel quite right. A patch pocket on an apron and a patch on a favorite dress, it really doesn’t matter where you pop a patch pocket - it will always be an asset to the clothes you wear.