Saturday, November 16, 2019

Two Embroidered Pockets: A Recycle Project

I love making something old new again. Time and money always seem to be in short supply in my household so any opportunity to reuse an item, I do it. I enjoy the challenge of figuring out how to reinvent things...give them a second life. Our foremothers did the same thing. They were very creative in their need to reuse clothing for example. If a garment was outgrown, worn out, or out-of-date, it was likely repurposed. I often say on tours at Stephenson House, our ancestors were the original recyclers. 

In my stash of fabric, I came across an old embroidered vest that someone gave me.  Today that old vest was going to become two embroidered pockets. 

This embroidered vest was originally made in India. The needlework looks to be hand done or at least passable.

For many years, I've wanted to make a lovely embroidered pocket. Unfortunately, time is a commodity in short supply for me. This old vest was going to solve the 'time' issue. It would cut out the many hours it would take to embroider the front of the pocket, allowing me to jump right into the construction. And instead of just one pocket, I'll have two!  

Pockets worn by our foremothers came in a variety of shapes since each one was made by an individual. Today we can buy a pattern to make what would have been cut-out or drawn traditionally. Kannik's Korner has a nice pattern that includes five different documented styles. You can also get inspiration online from a wide variety of museum collections then draft your own. 

The first thing was deconstructing the vest. I removed the buttons and cut out the front panels as close to the seams as possible in hopes of salvaging as much of the usable fabric. The front section with the buttonholes was cut off since I didn't want to mess with closing-up the holes. The front of the vest was lined with nice tan cotton that could be used as lining for the embroidered panel of the pocket. Once deconstruction was complete, all the pieces were pressed.

The panel on the left is slightly smaller because it had the buttonholes and I simply cut them off.

Tan cotton lining from the front panels. The interfacing was cut off.

Obviously, the size of the pocket was dependent on the size of the deconstructed front panels. Kannik's pattern provided five pocket sizes. Since the pattern paper was fairly transparent it made it easy to lay each on the fabric to check for fit. This also allowed me to play with the positioning of the embroidery design. All but one of the patterns was way too big for my little panels. The 'Mid-18th Century, Italian' pattern was the WINNER!

The pattern for the Italian pocket fit nicely. The transparency of the paper allowed me to play with the positioning of the embroidery design. Since both panels had symmetrical designs the pockets would too.

Kannik's instructions were simple and easy to follow. I did make some minor changes. Since the deconstructed panels were large enough to allow for slightly bigger pockets, I cut the pieces about 1/4" bigger than the actual pattern. It wasn't much but I wanted to use as much of the panel as possible. The lining piece and back piece were cut the same size. Altogether there were three pieces cut for each pocket; front, front lining, and back.

Pocket front cut about 1/4' bigger than the pattern piece.

Tan lining was cut the same size as the front.

Both pocket fronts cut out and marked. Since the vest front had the same design on both front panels I was able to mirror the design fairly well. The blue line at the top of each is the pocket slit.

Once all the pieces were cut the assembly could begin. I marked the front piece where the pocket opening would be cut (see the blue line in the above photos). Kannik's instructions called for the slit in the front and lining pieces to be cut at this point but I decided to wait on this step since the embroidery might fray due to handling. 

The tan lining is placed on the bottom of the stack. The striped fabric is the back piece and it is laid on top of the tan lining. The last piece on the stack is the front with the right side down.

I stacked all of the pieces in the following order: lining, back piece and front piece with the right side down. This order will make sense when the pocket pieces are turned after sewing the side seam. The photo below shows both pockets stacked in layers ready for pinning.

All three pieces of each pocket are stacked and ready to be pinned. 

I marked my seam allowance with a fabric marker to keep my seam in its proper place as I sewed around the pocket.

A small spaced back-stitch was sewn through all three layers of fabric.

Another shot of the spaced back-stitches.

Stitching around the pocket is complete. Time to turn it.

Turning the pocket right-side-out. Since there are three layers to the pocket, turning needs to be done between the front and back pieces. The back and lining pieces are treated as one in this step.

The pocket turned right-side-out. In this photo,
 the lining is now in the center of the three pieces and the side seam encased between the lining and the front piece.

Now that the pocket is right-side-out the seam was pressed and the opening slit marked down the center front (blue line). I used the slit measurement provided on the Kannik's Korner pattern.

Following the center front slit marking, I cut through both the front and lining fabric. The back piece was not cut!

The cut edges of the front and lining pieces were matched-up and a running stitch sewn around the slit. This will help hold them together when the binding is sewn on.

Inside view of the running stitch holding the front and lining pieces together. The cut edge/running stitch will be covered with binding.

Now that the pocket body is sewn together, a binding piece was needed to cover the pocket slit. I made my binding out of the same striped fabric used for the back. To make the binding, a 1" wide piece of fabric, long enough to go completely around the slit on both sides, was cut on the bias. Cutting it on the bias will make it more flexible, especially when it's sewn and shaped around the curve in the slit.

The bias cut binding is ready for pressing. This piece will bind the cut edge of the slit.

I folded the binding piece in half lengthwise and pressed it with the iron.

In this photo, the binding is pinned along the cut edge of the pocket slit. 

A small running stitch (with a backstitch every so often) was sewn about 1/4" from the cut edge. I was careful to catch all three layers: binding, pocket front, and lining.

This photo shows the inside of the pocket slit. The binding has been pressed out and is ready to be folded over the cut edge of the slit. Once folded over the cut edge it will cover the stitching.

Binding is folded over the slit edge and pinned.  All the cut edges are now enclosed.

A simple whipstitch attaches the binding edge to the pocket lining. I tried not to go through to the front fabric and only catch the lining.

Binding is complete.

Binding from the front.

Along the top of the pocket, a basting stitch was sewn to hold all the layers in place. Be sure to go through ALL the layers: front, lining, back. This will make the next step easier.

I used a piece of leftover binding to finish the top edge of the pocket. The piece needs to be long enough to go the width of the top edge with at least 1/4" seam allowance on each side. In this photo, I have more than a 1/4" on the ends. Going through all the layers, I then sewed a backstitch a 1/4" from the top edge (not pictured). Once this was complete, the binding was pressed up and folded over the top edge.

The binding has been pressed up and over the top edges of both pockets. It can now be whipstitched to the back piece.

Two pockets complete. All that is left is to add a waist tie. I used some woven 1/4" tape purchase from William Booth Draper (not pictured).

All done! They work great with my petticoat which has slits on each side for easy access. In this photo, I am modeling them on the outside of my petticoat.  Normally I wear them under my petticoat. Since they are sewn to a waistband/tie, they sit on my hips for easy access through my skirt slits.