the secret to perfect patch pockets


[ click for a larger view. ]

Because I haven’t rambled on enough about sewing this week, I present you with a sewing related tutorial! lol. A couple weeks ago, when I was making a dress I figured out the way to make perfect patch pockets. Now, if you sew, you probably know that patch pockets are made by cutting separate pieces of material in the shape of a pocket, turning the edges under, and stitching to the garment. While this is not difficult if you’re working with a pocket that has straight edges, it can be a bit tricky to get a perfectly smooth edge if the pocket is curved (or is intentionally irregular in any way).

Tired of wrestling to get perfectly turned-under curved edges, I found a tip in one of my old sewing books to make “perfect” patch pockets! It’s simple–I’m whacking my forehead that I didn’t think of this sooner! The basic idea is that you cut a template the size/shape of your pocket, minus the seam allowances (and top hem edge), and use that to iron around, creating a smooth edge. Being a visual gal myself, I photographed the process step-by-step to show you how to do this!


[ click for a larger view. ]

Begin by cutting a template the shape of your patch pocket, minus the seam allowances and the top hem amount. Cardboard of any sort should be suitable for this; I just used a bit of an old cereal box for mine. Turn down the top hem of your pocket and sew as your instructions indicate, and finish the seam allowance around the other edges (I serged mine, but zig-zag stitching or pinking the edges would work too!).


[ click for a larger view. ]

Place the pocket wrong side up, and the template in the center; the top hem being flush with the top of the template and an even space around the other edges.


[ click for a larger view. ]

Begin folding up the seam allowances of the pocket over the template, pressing as you go. Note: if your cardboard has printing on it, make sure before you begin that the heat/steam will not cause the ink to transfer onto your fabric!


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Once you have done this all around, remove the template and give it a good press from the right side to make sure the edges are securely pressed under. Voila! Expertly turned edges. Now they’re ready for stitching to the garment and admiring your perfect patch pockets!


[ click for a larger view. ]

(Yes, there is a dress that goes with these pockets… a sweet little 1940s pinafore sundress! I’ll post pictures soon!)

April 1, 2010 · 30 lovely thoughts
posted in tutorials · tags: ,

Peter April 1, 2010 at 06:39

Something I also do is to glue down the edges with a little white (Elmer’s) glue. It’s water soluble and the smallest amount gets the job done. Great tutorial!

Kitten April 1, 2010 at 07:24

What a fantastic little trick, I bet it could be used for other rounded edges too, thanks for the tip! Love the skirt in the previous post btw :) Have a happy easter!

melina bee April 1, 2010 at 08:01

I love your diy posts! They are a bit dangerous in fact…
melina bee

Rebecca April 1, 2010 at 09:01

Wow this is an incredible tip!! So simple, yet so effective.

Emily April 1, 2010 at 09:29

Great idea! No more bumpy edges! Thanks Casey.

Hannah April 1, 2010 at 09:40


I have a cute little patch-pocket sundress on my to-sew list that’ll look all the better for reading this :)

jen April 1, 2010 at 11:33

that is very clever! i’ll have to try that next time. :) the way i do it works pretty well but i don’t think i get the rounded corners as smooth: i just sewn a long/basting stitch (with the machine) along the stitch line, then press that under. once i attach the pocket, i pull out the basting thread; have you ever done it that way?

Mrs. Jess April 1, 2010 at 11:45

This is a basic jig, jigs are used all the time in industry to streamline processes and ensure consistency. They are really a godsend! Love the idea of using a jig for a patch pocket, I never really thought of that (then again I rarely do patch pockets). If interested, see Kathleen’s jig tutorials for zipper insertion, welt pockets, etc. on Fashion-Incubator

Debi April 1, 2010 at 12:41

Ohhh…I can’t wait to see the dress!! What a great tutorial! Thank you!

Victoria / Justice Pirate April 1, 2010 at 12:53

Oh how beautiful!!!

Betty Darling April 1, 2010 at 13:41

Great way to do pockets, the template really gives it a clean finish, I always spend ages trying to do clean edges. Can’t wait to see the dress!

BillieBlack April 1, 2010 at 14:19

omg!!!! Thank you! i also always had trouble with that.. and so easy.. why didnt I think of that haha.. amazing.. thanx again for this lovely tip!!!

Marjorie April 1, 2010 at 14:31

OH! Thanks a bunch for this, Casey!! Mine always have a certain…..”unique….flair” tee hee (and by ‘flair’, I mean of course….wonkiness!) tee hee This is a great idea, and I shall put it to use when next I stitch up some patch pockets!

♥ Thankeeeeee!!

Sarah M. April 1, 2010 at 23:05

Thank you so much! I was just thinking about adding patch pockets to a skirt I just made!

Kelly April 2, 2010 at 11:00

Thanks for posting this tip! It’s so simple, but one of those things I just wouldn’t think of. I can’t wait to see the dress! A forties pinafore dress is on my summer sewing list as well and I’m sure yours will be inspiring.

Amy Lu April 2, 2010 at 13:03

Something I learned from my quilting friends… if you wrap your cardboard in tin-foil it heats up and seems to make the crease crisper. It kind of irons it from the inside too! :o )

Ask Netfah from J&O Fabrics April 5, 2010 at 10:53

Great tip to share with our crafty customers here at J&O Fabrics! Thanks for the sharing

Candy April 5, 2010 at 11:03

AH! thanks so much for this. so handy!

Vicki K April 5, 2010 at 12:42

Those pockets are so pleasing!! If you make little clips around the curves (making sure to leave it solid where the stitching will be) the fabric will lay down a little flatter.

alex April 5, 2010 at 16:24

I’ve been cutting 2 pockets and turning them inside out like a pillow, but it’s such a waste of fabric. I can’t wait to try your way!

angie.a April 5, 2010 at 18:13

Perfect little tip! They make iron-able templates for certain pockets, but just think, if you make your own you can have any size/shape your heart desires!

Tasia April 5, 2010 at 19:19

Fantastic tip! I usually baste around the curved edge 1/4″ and pull the basting threads to ease the edge in but this looks much more accurate. What a brilliant (and free) way to improve the look of pockets!

Kinda reminds me of working in retail, folding sweaters around a board, to make perfectly square piles of shirts :)

luvinthemommyhood April 7, 2010 at 10:29

Thanks for such a great little tute! I can definitely use this! I love the site by the way – so fun! You’re in our link luv roundup today, come by for a peek!

SylvChezPlum April 14, 2010 at 01:29

Oh wow, that’s perfect. I was thinking of adding round pockets to my daughter’s skirt and had no idea how to do.
THanks so much :-D

Bratling July 16, 2010 at 09:17

My favorite trick for this produces lovely results but with no ironing… I gather the curved edges just enough to turn them under…

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