A Study in Pockets

So, you remember all my lamentations about patch pockets on my fuchsia skirt? Well, I decided it was time to stop whining and start figuring out how to do them properly.

If you recall, I couldn’t get my topstitching quite right on the curved edges of the pockets. Also, I struggled with turning the edges under, even after following the pattern’s guidelines to stitch first, and then turn under along the stitching. It was heavily irritating.

My first step in my quest to conquer patch pockets was, of course, an internet search. I asked the Google oracle to tell me about topstitching on a curve.

At Threads, I learned that I needed to choose the proper needle. For twill, it’s best to use a denim needle, and I definitely purchased a pack the last time I visited Jo-Ann’s. There are also topstitching needles, but I think those are reserved for using heavier topstitching thread.

Michelle Patterns had a very handy list for topstitching, but it seems as though it is mostly for topstitching on a purse. But since that purse pictured is super adorable, I went ahead and bookmarked the post. I need to see if I can find that pattern somewhere–oh hey, there’s a link right on the site. Wonder of wonders. . .

(Total side note: I really love this clutch, but I’m not much of a clutch girl. Maybe I can add a long strap to make a nice little run-around-town purse? I’ve been wanting one of those and the one I got from Target last week is NOT what I had in mind.)

Londa’s Creative Threads blew my mind with her tip #12. An edgestitching foot??? I have one of those!! Success is imminent!

And then in a Sew Mama Sew forum, I learned that there are 1/4″ feet??? What? Where? Must have shiny new foot! But seriously–has anyone used one of these? Is it helpful at all?

I found this video for topstitching a placket, but I haven’t watched it yet. I imagine when I start working on my shirt dress, it will become very helpful. I’ll let you know.

Armed with all that information, I was feeling pretty confident about tackling topstitching once more. But, there was still the problem of the pocket edges being not at all properly turned under.

I don’t remember the exact search terms I entered, but I know I had to flip through a couple pages of results before I found THE ANSWER I WAS LOOKING FOR.

I found it at Elegant Musings. Apparently, she was having the same issues I was with turning under the curved edge of the pockets. Her solution is brilliant (I actually had the same thought but couldn’t figure how to go about it!), so of course I had to try it myself.

I used an empty Carnation Instant Breakfast (short commercial: I LOVE this stuff) box to make a copy of the pocket pattern. Then of course, I had to remove the 5/8″ seam allowance. I used my trusty seam gauge because. . . that’s what it’s for. I ended up with a cardboard replica of the pocket.


I used my last bit of fuchsia twill to cut out a pocket.

Then I tried using the cardboard template to fold over the edges of my twill, like so.

Sorry the picture is blurry. I didn’t notice at the time and didn’t feel like going back to stage it.

After much ironing and folding and ironing and folding, the edges still weren’t perfect. But, they’re not exactly terrible.

I decided to move on to the topstitching. I used my overcasting foot because it has a edge I could use to line up the fabric. I moved my needle to the center, checked to make sure it wasn’t going to hit anything, and off I went.

For the first curve, I shortened my stitch considerably.

I do not like the way it looks.

For the second curve, I threw caution to the wind and stuck with my standard stitch length.

I like this much better.

Now, compare this pocket to my first pockets I actually used on the skirt.

Do you see what I see? There’s not that much difference in pocket edges. And I’m seeing that it’s not the stitching that’s making me irritable. It’s the not-so-smooth pocket edges.

I began to wonder if it was the twill that was making things difficult. So, I pulled out a scrap of unfortunate-looking cotton broadcloth that my friend gave me when she found out I wanted to learn how to sew. Unfortunate-looking, donated cotton broadcloth is meant for experimentation, I think.

I went through all the same steps again and here’s the result. Again, I did not really shorten the stitch on the curves.

Again, the edges aren’t really all that smooth. So, is it me? Is it the technique?

So, in the end, is it worth making the cardboard template? The result may not be as perfect as I was hoping, but it makes the process so much easier. I still recommend it.


2 thoughts on “A Study in Pockets

  1. I really like using a cardboard template for pockets. I also usually do a quick basting stitch around the edges of the pocket (don’t backstitch!) and then pull the thread tails to sort of gather the fabric around the template. It makes it a little easier to iron it around the template.

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