gathered pocket; a tutorial

gathered pocketThis gathered pocket sits inside and at the side edge of a loose-fitting garment such as an unfitted dress or tunic top, and can be adapted to go in a loose, flowy skirt also.  It is best suited to lightweight fabrics.

Firstly, making the pattern pieces…  start with an A-line dress pattern.  I used dress R from the Stylish Dress Book by Yoshiko Tsukiori; which has gently A-line side seams that curve outwards towards the lower hemline, but this design would work equally well for a straight, diagonal side edge too.


For both front and back pieces, both sides, draw in the above, straight lines;

blue line:  starting from the the innermost point of the armscye curve, vertically straight down to finish at the level where you wish for the top edge of the pocket to hit.  As a rough guide I find around 5cm (2″) above hip level to be generally a pretty good upper pocket point.

green line: horizontally, at the level where you wish for the top edge of the pocket to hit.  The “bagginess” of your pocket is a personal choice; as a guide; my green line is 15cm (6″) in length which coincided with the degree of “flare” of the dress at the hemline.

red line: vertical line from the outer edge of green line, straight down.  This is the new side edge of the dress/top.

orange curve; from the blue green intersection, draw a gentle pocket curve to intersect with the original side of the dress edge.  As a guide, I made my pockets 20cm deep.

purple line: vertical line from the lower edge of the pocket, up to the green line.  This is the centre fold on which you will cut the pocket piece.

The grey lines of the side front and side back represent the original lines of the pattern pieces.


These lines define the new pattern pieces as show above; at left is the new side edge of the dress front and back, now defined by the blue line, green line and red line.  Only one side is pictured, if you want the pocket to be on both sides then obviously cut this profile both sides of the garment.  Side fronts ( 2), and side backs (cut 2) are defined by the blue line, orange curve and the original side edge (grey curve), and pocket pieces (cut 2) as defined by the orange curve, with a centre fold along purple line.  Remember to add seam allowances!

warning; hideous fabric alert… my apologies.  This blue stuff was a handy small scrap,  I also used black thread because I didn’t bother to change the thread in my machine  it stands out and can be clearly seen against the blue fabric…   🙂



Also, for the drawstring ties cut 4 strips of lightweight fabric on the bias; Mine are each 41cm (15 1/2″) long by 2.5cm (1″) wide.



Pocket drawstring ties;  stitch the long edge and turn right side out.  My tips and method for turning out skinny spaghetti strap ties can be found here

(below L) Stitch front and back together along the red line, press open.  Stitch side fronts to side backs along side edges, press seam allowances open.


(above R)  Stitch side front piece to front along the blue line, finishing at the top edge of the pocket.  Repeat for side back piece to back.  Clip to end of stitching, press seam allowances to front/back.

(below L) Run a long, gathering stitch along the pocket opening stitching line (green line).


(above R) Pulling up this gathering stitch slightly to fit, stitch a pocket piece along the pocket top edge in two separate lines of stitching, leaving a short 2cm (7/8″) gap in the centre between the two.

(below L) Turn pocket piece to the inside and gently press along stitching line.


(above R) Inside, line up pocket lining and side front/back piece along the curved lower edge and stitch together.  Finish pocket seam allowances and side front/back seam allowances if desired.

(below L) Pin the pocket piece to the dress along the top edge of the seam; and, keeping the side front/side back free, stitch together with a row of stitching 1cm (3/8″) in from the top edge.  Effectively creating a 1cm width channel  between dress and pocket.  Insert a tie into each side of the channel, starting from the gap and coming out at each end.  Apologies for the scraps of yarn used in this little blue sample pocket, for the real thing I did make proper turned out bias strips, really!


(above R)  Secure the tie ends in place by stitching a few passes of back and forward stitching on the outside of the dress, through all layers.

With the ties, pull up the excess width of the pocket edge to fit and tie in a sweet bow or whatever.

And done!


Thank you to everyone who expressed an interest in how I made these pockets;  I hope this is a useful and/or interesting tutorial.  If you find it so then please leave a comment and let me know.  🙂


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17 Thoughts on “gathered pocket; a tutorial

  1. Dilliander on 20/03/2016 at 12:59 pm said:

    Your tutorials are always informative, creative and interesting Carolyn. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. Thank you for sharing your construction mode of these so cute pockets! Everything is clear now without too much of text 🙂

  3. Philippa on 20/03/2016 at 3:51 pm said:

    Ingenious, and such a pretty result. Thank you Carolyn.

  4. Such ingenuity once again! I would have [and have!] just added a gathered pocket somewhere on the near side front. What puzzles me is that you ever use a commercial pattern. I know you ‘frankenpattern’ sometimes, but you clearly are well up to just drafting your own for everything you make. Keep ’em coming.

  5. Fantastic! and so clever. I’ll definitely try this, your pockets are delightful. Thanks so much, Coco

  6. Kris on 20/03/2016 at 7:59 pm said:

    Very nice! I just wanted to leave a comment, and say that as a new sewist (less than a year), I find your blog inspiring and helpful! Your single person blog rivals professional sites like Colette, and I like seeing your custom designs and design modifications. I also like sewing Japanese patterns, and that is how I found your page the first time. Happy sewing from Florida!

    • Carolyn on 22/03/2016 at 11:36 am said:

      aw, thank you so much Kris! that’s a huge compliment and I really appreciate those kind words 🙂 xx

  7. Cute pocket! Saved

  8. Thank you. I’ll certainly be using your tutorial.

  9. Wow! Thank you!!

  10. That’s a fantastic tutorial. Thank you for taking the time to do it! I will bookmark this and try this out later!

  11. Thanks so much for the tutorial, especially for taking the time to make the drawings. Another one to bookmark! 🙂

  12. birdmommy on 21/03/2016 at 1:38 am said:

    A lovely way to add a little something extra to a flow garment. Thank you for taking the time to write this up!

  13. Thank you for sharing this technique. It is appreciated and don’t be surprised if I copy it since I’ve lately become enamored of pockets.

  14. Monika on 21/03/2016 at 6:33 pm said:

    Thank you so much. Adore your garments

  15. Stacie on 29/03/2016 at 9:31 pm said:

    This is so nice, I can see charming pockets on lots of nice summery makes coming up, thanks for sharing!

  16. Terrifically useful tutorial Carolyn, bookmarked for later. Thank you.
    PS Also enjoying your footwear adventures x

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