One big lightbulb that went off for me in my quest to become a more creative and flexible sewer was realizing that I didn’t need to always have a pattern for everything, or to have every edge drafted, measured and cut precisely before starting to sew. As I watched pro sewers and tailors work (thanks to my great old job at Threads!), I noticed these folk doing a lot of eye-balling, rough cutting, and shaping stuff as they went along. It was all very logical and liberating; and it’s a major theme in my book.
Written sewing directions, especially those for ‘home’ sewers, are very likely to obscure this aspect of a pro’s process in favor of presenting easy, step-by-step directions that will feel comforting to somebody used to working from commercial patterns, in which every tiny scrap and detail has a pattern piece, usually with hearty 5/8-in. [1.6cm] seam allowances, no matter how small the piece itself is. My Threads article is a good example of this, with its directions for drawing “The Pocket Bag Pattern.”
I don’t HAVE a pocket bag pattern, and you don’t need one.
My pants pockets are just big rectangles; they get their shape from how I sew them, not from how I cut them. Here’s what I started with for the sample in the article:
For my own front pockets, I use two 15-in. [38cm] squares of some sturdy cotton I know I’ll like feeling every time I use my pockets. That may be too big for a women’s pant, and too small for some folks, so use whatever will give you a pocket you like—and it doesn’t have to be a square. I arrived at 15 inches of width because I like a front pocket about 7 or so inches wide [18cm] and I need about an extra inch [2.5cm] for covering the side seam, about which more later.
Because I like to extend my front pockets all the way to the top edge of the waistband or waistband area (also detailed in the book), 15 inches of length works out nicely; adjust this for your own pockets.
Whenever possible, I also like to cut my front-pocket rectangles so that one edge of each piece is a selvedge. I arrange the rectangle so the selvedge edge winds up at the side seam when the pocket’s finished, as you’ll see.
I don’t pre-shape the pocketing to the pocket opening, either. I stitch the front to the rectangle along the edge opposite from the selvedge edge, matching the front side-seam cut edge to the bag edge, then trim the pocketing to follow the mouth stitching, matching the 1/4-inch [0.6cm] seam allowance I used for the mouth.
You may also have noticed that despite the directions on p.43 for starting with cutting and binding the slit at the front-edge fold of the pocket bag, in the photo for Step 2, there’s no slit yet.
That’s because I only cut the slit after I know exactly where the fold is going to be, and I don’t know that until AFTER I stitch the bag to the front and (maybe) to the pocket facing, or pocket BACK, as they call it in the article. Before I add the facing, I fold the pocket rectangle vertically back over the mouth so the selvedge edge extends about 1/2 inch [1.2cm] beyond the front side-seam allowance. This establishes where the fold will be, at which point you can cut and bind the slash, or add the facing, then cut and bind; the order doesn’t matter.
Tomorrow: Closing the bag, and about that clip…