Adding a pocket to V8711

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My right hand pocket, side on.

As mentioned in my previous post the yoke lines of V8711 lured me into adding pockets. As my original post on this pattern was so long already I thought I would put the details of this and some of the issues I encountered into a separate post. I don’t know if I would go as far as calling this a tutorial as it is process I made up as I went along, but if anyone else is interested in trying this I would love to hear about how it goes.

My concerns in adding the pocket to V8711 were as follows:

  • That any bulk in the pockets would alter the lines of the garment in what is a close fitting garment
  • That the pocket would not support the front skirt pieces which hang off the yoke therefore distorting the gathers and making the whole front saggy
  • That the shape of the yoke edge where it joins with the skirt front is not conducive to a pocket

Considering these issues, here is how I did it: please bear in mind these instructions assume you have some prior knowledge of pattern adjustments and some of the principles behind this, they are not step by step instructions for a complete beginner.

Alerting the length of the front yoke

As I described in my last post, the two yokes are different lengths at the side seam, so while drafting the pocket I will be correcting that so the skirt looks better when finished. I could make the back yoke piece shorter, but since I am altering the front anyway, I may as well change that.

The two yoke pieces side by side.

The two yoke pieces side by side, showing the discrepancy.

  1. Draw in the seam lines 1.5cm from the raw edge on the bottom corner of the front and back yoke.
  2. Line up the side seam on the yoke pieces and measure the difference in length – on my pieces this is 1cm.

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    Highlighting the length difference between the two pieces. The yellow cross hatching highlights a completely superfluous corner of the back yoke piece, due to seam allowances (I have now cut this off). The red lines indicate the level of the bottom corner of both yokes when sewn, i.e. not including seam allowances. The blue arrow highlights the discrepancy with these lines, i.e. the difference in height of the two corners when sewn.

  3. Measure 1cm down the side seam below the yoke edge on the left hand side (as the Pattern Piece lays flat, right side up) on the left front skirt piece and make a mark.

Note the angles on the seams where the skirt front and front yoke meet are not the same on the two pattern pieces – I didn’t worry too much about this and it worked out fine for me.

Reshape the pocket edge to a curve

This relates to reshaping the shape of the pocket where it meets the front skirt pieces. I illustrate this here although I did not do it myself on the skirt shown as I had already cut out the front skirt pieces when I decided to add the pockets. I have, however, done this to my pattern pieces in preparation for making the pattern again (hence the pattern alteration photos).

Reshaping the shape of the yoke pocket edge is necessary/a good idea because having the angle on the yoke as the pattern is drafted provides a weak point which may encourage the front of the skirt to sag – reshaping it to a curve spreads the pull out across the whole pocket edge, making it less likely to sag. There ain’t no great science or secret to this – add extra paper to the left hand yoke edge of the left front skirt piece and then use a curve to draw a gentle curve between the original top edge, and the new mark you previously marked to lower the edge of the back yoke. Once you have done this for this one yoke edge, copy the same curve onto all the other pockets, starting with the righthand side of the both pieces.

    My altered front yoke/pocket opening on the left front piece. The yellow line is the old yoke line, and the red line is the new pocket opening line. The hashed pale yellow area is an corner of the original front yoke which I cut off. Notice the red line cuts lower than the original yoke - this area is cut off to lower the line of the yoke to match the back yoke length.

My altered front yoke/pocket opening on the left front piece. The yellow line is the old yoke line, and the red line is the new pocket opening line. The hashed pale yellow area is an corner of the original front yoke which I cut off. Notice the red line cuts lower than the original yoke – this area is cut off to lower the line of the yoke to match the back yoke length.

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The pleats pinned up with the extension to the lefthand side of the right skirt front piece.

Adding the curve to the lefthand side of the right skirt front piece – the one with the pleats – is the trickiest bit. First add spare fabric along this edge – make it a good quantity (at least 3cm). Next extend the lines for the pleats across the new fabric. Now fold these pleats upwards as you would if you were sewing them, and pin in place. The complicating factor with this seam is that in addition to the pleats there is also some gathering. If you are using something sewable like Swedish tracing paper you could add some basting stitches and gather the edge as you would if you were sewing. Otherwise, the method I used is…. rough estimation. Highly technical, I know, but it worked out for me. Basically, with the pleats pinned in place, compare this yoke edge, with the one on the left front skirt piece (which has already had the curve added to it) – you will see the one you are working on is longer. First make a mark lower on the edge of the yoke allowing for the extra length on the back yoke piece, as you did with the first piece you adjusted. Then to add the curve to this seam roughly guestimate adding the same amount of extra to the seam as the other at one. Now draw a gentle curve between the wasitband seam and the mark for the back yoke length adjustment. This curve will be gentler than the other pattern pieces – this is ok as 1. adding the gathering will tighten up the curve, and 2. there is room for some adjustment in the seam allowance if it is not quite right. Now, to finish, with the pleats still pinned, cut along the curve you have drawn. Now it is safe to unpin the pleats, and you will see you have cut the funny little kinks which should line up with the seam neatly when they are sewn.

Phew, that was the tricky bit!

Create a pocket pattern piece

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My original pocket piece from the Cambie dress.

To create a pocket piece I would recommend using one from an existing pattern. I used one from the sewaholic cambie dress. There were three key changes I made to this to make it match my skirt. I only did these to the side of the pattern piece with the pocket opening to start with.

  1. Straightened the top edge as the Cambie dress is drafted with a curved waist, but V8711 has a straight waist seam.
  2. Redrew the pocket edge by tracing the curve I traced onto the front skirt pieces.
  3. Matched the side seam to the V8711 side seams, by lining the already done waist and pocket edge seams up on both pieces, then tracing the shape of the V8711 side seam onto the pocket piece.

While doing these also check the length and depth of the pocket are appropriate for the V8711 , and if necessary shorten or lengthen as appropriate.

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My finished pocket pattern piece, outlined in red, with the fold line marked with a dashed line.

Having done those to side of the pattern piece with the pocket opening, fold the pattern piece along the fold line – on my Cambie piece this is marked by a notch at the top and bottom. With the pattern piece folded match the size and shape of the back of the pocket to the front, which you have already altered to fit the V8711 skirt pieces, allowing for the face that the back piece should square the corner that the pocket opening cuts off.

Notches and markings

Lastly, before cutting out the fabric, consider notches and tailors tack markings. My Cambie pocket piece came with notches to mark the top and bottom of the fold on the pocket piece, and matching notches on the top and sides to help you line up the pocket when you fold it. There was one superfluous notch on the top edge which I got rid of. There was already a notch to line up the yoke and front skirt pieces on the V8711, so I added a new matching notch to the pocket opening edge of the pocket piece.

The front yoke original pattern piece with the no-longer necessary markings highlighted in red.

The front yoke original pattern piece with the no-longer necessary markings highlighted in red.

There are circles on the skirt front pieces at the bottom corner of the front yoke edge, and a small one at roughly the same height but closer to the side seam – both are no longer needed. Hurrah! less tailors tacks!

Cut out and interface

Now I cut out two of the pocket pieces. Obviously there is no need to cut out the front yoke pieces. Having had issues with stretchy pockets in the past I now interface my pockets as standard, so I fused knit interfacing to the back of both pocket pieces. I got my interfacing here. I love knit interfacing – as long as you cut it on the grain it maintains the stretch, but you can feel the extra stability.

Sew the pocket

The following is a list of many (possibly excessive) stages in the stabilisation of the pocket edge, the first of which was the interfacing.

Sew the pocket opening edge to the skirt, right sides together. Before finishing the edge of this seam I sewed twill tape along next to the stitching. Not sure if I would do this again – it definitely added quite a bit of bulk to the seam. (I think I would judge this on the fabric – a light 4 way stretch knit = yes, a stable two-way stretch ponte = no) After finishing the edge of the seam and pressing, I then understitched the seam allowance to the pocket piece (more reinforcement). Then I turned and pressed the seam, and topstitched (just to be sure). In this case I used a twin needle for my topstitching because 1. I used a twin needle for the top stitching on the hem and 2. I love the finish of a twin needle on knit. I think all told this may have been overkill, but at least my pocket opening seam was absolutely definitely no-ifs-no-buts-no-maybes stabilised.

Now, fold the pocket in half along the fold lines and sew the bottom edge of the pocket, finishing the seam fully. Then pin and baste the pocket to the side and waistband seams.

Now the pocket is done and ready to continue with the rest of the skirt as per the instructions. There is an issue with bulk around the front yoke anyway with this pattern and adding the pocket definitely adds to this – my extra-extra over-reinforced seam was not interested in bending when pressed, even after trimming and layering everything, so I pressed the waistband seam up towards the waistband, which has worked fine.

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The inside of the pocket with the interfacing visable, and the zig zagging around the edge to fix the pocket bag in place.

When I tried the skirt on I found that the pocket didn’t seem to be hanging quite right and the problem seemed to be with way the pocket bag underneath was hanging. looking at this I had a brainwave – most of the area where the pocket bag hangs is on the part of the left skirt front piece which is covered by the right skirt front piece. Therefore I ran my widest broadest zig zag stitch along the bottom and folded edge of the pocket, securing it to the left skirt front. with this done the pocket definitely hangs better, not sure exactly why I had this issue perhaps it was the fabric, perhaps this will be needed in the future with a pocket.

That’s it – not too complicated, I hope. If anyone else tries this I would love to hear how it goes.

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The finished skirt with pocket.

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