TUTORIAL: Pleated Pocket!

Just a minute ago I submitted my final exam for my very last class for my Master’s Degree! YAAAAY!!! (to be exclaimed with flailing arms all Kermit-the-Frog-style). I’m FREE! Well at least academically speaking. So let’s start tackling that “list,” shall we?

Here is the long-awaited Pleated Pocket Tutorial. Now you too can make your very own and add it to everything: skirts, shirts, purses, baby dresses and more. This really is so simple. Enjoy!


made by Rae
please do not take images from this tutorial without permission. thanks!


  • 1 rectangle for the top band of the pocket: 1.5″x12″ for narrower band (yellow one, shown in tutorial) or 2″x13″ for wider band (pink one pictured above)
  • 2 rectangles for the bottom of the pocket: 5.5″ x 8″ each

Step 1: Press under 1/4″ along the bottom side of the top band (I did both sides but later realized I should have just done one).

Step 2: Fold top part of pocket in half lengthwise.

Step 3: With a 1/4″ seam allowance, sew around just two edges of the top band, the top edge and the side across from the fold (has been marked with purple in picture below). This will leave the bottom edge (the one you pressed) open.

Step 4: Clip corners.

Step 5: Turn right-side out, poking the corners out with a tweezers or a pencil or some special thingamabob you purchased for this very purpose. Press. If you are smart you will also fold and press the raw bottom edges under along the folds you made in Step 1. Did I do this? NO. Dur!

Now set this piece aside.

Step 6: With right sides together and a 1/4″ seam, sew the bottom pocket pieces together, leaving the top open. When you do the corners, instead of making them square, sew them as rounded as you can. FOR BEST RESULTS, DRAW THE CURVES WITH A FABRIC MARKER BEFORE YOU SEW! One rounded corner closeup is shown below:

Step 7: Trim corners off with scissors and clip seams.

Step 8: Turn right-side out and press.

Step 9: Tuck bottom part of pocket into top band, making sure the folded edge of the top band is tucked inside, and pleating the bottom piece to taste*. I would tuck at least 1/2″ into the band. The size of the pleats will vary depending on how wide your top band is, but I would guess they will be about 1/2″ deep; adjust the size of the pleats so that the edges of the bottom piece fits exactly inside the top band. Pin pleats to secure.

*Want the one you see in the picture? On the pink pockets I made two pleats facing out about 2″ from edge of pocket. On the yellow pockets I made two pleats facing one way about an inch apart. For the bird pocket I put one large pleat in the center facing inward).

One other thing here: I found that the pocket looks better when the corners of the bottom piece go farther into the top band than the center, so don’t feel like you need to make the edge of the bottom even with the edge of the top. If anything this will help your pocket pucker more.

Step 10: With the pocket facing up, topstitch across the bottom of the top band to close everything up. The closer you are to the edge, the harder it is to “catch” both the top and bottom edges of the top band, so be careful. You may want to baste first with the back side up or do some extra pinning. I’m a glutton for punishment so I always just wing it and then end up inevitably tearing out the part I missed. Of course I remain graceful and dignified as I do so. Always.

Here is a view of the finished pocket from the back (I used a white lining for one of my rectangles because I was short on fabric. You don’t see the inside anyway):

And the front:

Notice that it looks a little uneven still; this will go away once you sew it to your garment. Remove pins, press it, pin to your garment and sew around the edges to secure. If you pin it so that the top band doesn’t lay completely flat against the garment, the pocket will have more of a rounded look and will pucker away from the garment somewhat.

Finished dimensions are approximately 6″ x 7″

Wow. I guess I’ll take that as a "yes"…

I’m pretty sure that last post set some kind of record on my blog for most comments received in the shortest period of time. I’m going to go ahead and say that was an ENTHUSIASTIC response to the Lickety Split Bag. And for those of you who have been sending me emails like “how much is it” and “when can I buy it?”, the current status report on the Lickety Split Bag is: has been scanned, will be available for sale as soon as is reasonably possible (given my current state and situation), with an option for commercial licensing for those wanting to make/sell them. I’m excited about this. But then I’m also kicking myself for making more work in these last precious days…

Speaking of situation, our basement renovation is complete and I am now able to spend more time in my home as the fumes from the new carpet have slowly dissipated. Which is good because taking a toddler out of the house every day proved challenging. Mr Rae installed some surround sound wiring down there so the TV is goin’ downstairs and his dream of having the “Man Den” is finally being fulfilled. Not that we ever have time to watch TV, but when we do, man we are going to feel like we are right there. The old TV room is becoming the new nursery so I have my fantasy nursery all planned out in my head. Here’s one of my inspiration points for Baby #2’s decor:

I did a refurb on this vintage Irmi lamp I found on Etsy (unfortunately the lovely shop I purchased from is down to one or two Irmi items) by very carefully cleaning the figures and repainting the base. I rewired it and gave it a new lampshade and added pompoms. And if you think this one’s cute you should wait until you see the one I got for Elliot’s room.

Now finding cheap Low-VOC paint to coordinate is something that will probably only happen in another space-time. Should I buy the $56 per gallon uber high-quality Benjamin Moore Aura if it means I have to put the baby in a dresser drawer? Oh, the issues that have been keeping me up at night. At least I know what colors I want on the walls (warning: blurry sideways scan):

The light mango orange is going on the top half of the walls top and one of those celery greens is going on the bottom (there’s a white chair rail that divides the room). The dark red-orange is just an accent color for a side table. Many of you have asked if we know if it’s a boy or a girl and the answer is: YES! But that’s all I’m leaving you with (and those of you family and friends who know need to keep your mouths shut) since I think it’s more fun if it’s a surprise! So that’s all for now…

Lickety Split Bag

Yesterday I decided it was high time to cut into my Anna Maria Horner Good Folks before another year goes by and we’re all still looking at the Good Folks projects. Case in point: have you noticed alot of Mendocino around here lately? Yeah, I acquired that last August. I didn’t want to think too hard about what to make so I pulled out my favorite quickie pattern, formerly known as the “stroller bag,” now known as Lickety Split, due to the fact that I can literally make one in 15 minutes (without the pockets) to 30 minutes (with pockets).

Like the Oceana Tote, this one is reversible although it’s bigger and not interfaced so it’s super lightweight and folds up to almost nothing. I added some blue and red ric-rac to the pockets, for a little extra cute.

: : which side should go out? : :

I made it up after studying a student’s book bag back when I was teaching a few years ago; although now that I look online at the pattern she used I see it’s smaller, doesn’t have the seam in the middle or the round ties. There’s a lot of this style bag floating around but the patterns for sale are either too small for what I want or don’t have the adjustable ties on the top. And as I write that I’m realizing just how much I complain about how not-quite-right every other pattern out there is. I don’t mean to be a whiner. I just don’t always find exactly what I’m looking for…

: : ties onto the stroller : :

: : or hangs : :

I’m hesitant to say this but I think this is my Perfect Bag. It works for library books, farmers market, grocery store, just over the shoulder, and because it’s adjustable I can hang it on any stroller. It’s big enough for baby and toddler gear but my little sister Kricket carries hers around so I know it’s not too mommish (that or she just switches to it every time she comes over…sneaky). And it’s wide enough at the bottom for a carton of eggs. Eggs!!!

: : Here are a couple others I’ve made recently (but with one pocket inside instead of four) : :

I’d be happy to scan and sell this if anyone’s interested (no commitment of course). I think I want to try out some automatic download software for PDFs so that if someone bought it they could download it right away. This might be the one to start with, but if you guys think it’s a bad idea I’ll save myself the time. I’m able to turn around most pattern orders on Etsy within a few hours, but that’s still a wait, and for a PDF it would be nice to get it right away.

Side note on wall color: A few of you asked about the paint color on my wall from last post; I have to admit the first picture here isn’t quite an accurate portrayal of my bathroom wall (which happens to be one of the only well-lit blank walls in my house with a hook); I played around with the tint/temp of the picture because I wanted it to be beachy. The real color is probably closer to the one you see directly above. The paint color is from Martha Stewart at Kmart, but I got it about four years ago so I don’t even know if they sell it anymore. But if you want that warm aqua look, rip out a Tiffany ad from Vogue and bring it in to your local paint shop; I’m sure you’d get the same look. And maybe if I get the energy I’ll waddle downstairs and see if I can find the name of that paint chip…

Oceana Reversible Shoulder Tote

Just popping in between school project deadlines to show off another FO. Remember this? Well that little pleated pocket turned into this:

It’s a reversible tote which started as an attempt to make the Taxi Tote from Seams to Me. But I didn’t have enough of the fuschia Mendocino for the outside, so I had to change the pattern around a bit (I maintained the overall look but I had to heavily modify the pattern piece to get two sides cut from the fabric I had). Then on the other side (made with Legacy Studio cotton from JoAnn), I decided to go for a seam in the middle to add interest, basically the same design as this bag, but quite alot smaller (this bag is about 15″ wide and 24″ tall).

Then I decided it would be reversible, so I added ties and sewed the two right sides together with a gap at the top which got top-stitched shut later. And there are some little pleats thrown in there that gives it a really poofy look.

The pockets are pleated pockets which are SO EASY and a tutorial is on My List so stay tuned (but don’t hold your breath. That List is long.) I also put those pockets on this top and this one last summer. Since I put the pockets on both the inside and outside and lined the whole thing with flannel, it practically stands up on its own. Here’s the full view:

I honestly have no idea who this purse is headed to; I just have fun trying new shapes and techniques so for now it will hang in the sewing room reminding me that beach weather is just around the corner. Meanwhile I am ignoring the sound of rain on the roof…

Posted in sewing

The Cutest Monster…EVER.

Warning: This post contains copious amounts of Shameless Family Promotion. Proceed at your own risk…

Today Elli (my knitting-superstar seester) posted a new stuffed monster knitting pattern which when I saw I almost died of cute. Now I know that she suspects that I’m merely gushing over this latest creation in the hopes that I’ll procure at least one of these for my future progeny (specifically one expected in approx 9 weeks), and while that may be partially true, seriously, is this not one of the cutest softies you’ve ever seen? As our mum would say: “oh. em. gee. ” (She says this mostly to make fun of blog commenters, by the way. Please don’t feel self-conscious. I use it on half the comments I leave…). And did you see the THREE horns?

Aww!! It’s standing next to a watermelon! And the caption on her blog under this photo (which I stole from her) is hilarious. So go over there and take a look, and if you know how to knit you should BUY ONE. By the way she also makes lots of other patterns (many of which are free on her blog or can be found whilst perusing the pages of Vogue Knitting and the like). This one is another one of my favorites. Also for sale and v. cute. And besides, every good knitter knows you should be starting NOW on the knitted things you plan to wear next December.

Sidenote: At this very second I am pestering her on gchat but she is trying to purchase tickets to go to something called the SOCK SUMMIT (which made me almost go into labor right there…I was like “I’m sorry did you say the DORK SUMMIT? oops my keyboard seems to be malfunctioning…” Sometimes I really just crack myself up. And now every knitter who’s ever read this blog has just put me on the Official Knitting Hit List…wherein you meet your end with a size 2 DPN to the jugular) so you know she is truly Hard Core.

Posted in knitting

Little Truck Backpack

One of the things on the top of my list to finish last week was another little toddler backpack:

I had had a request from a non-sewing mom to make one awhile back; she liked the pattern but it’s not exactly a learn-to-sew project. She wanted a dark denim and liked the idea of piping with red (I had red and brown on hand), so I went for a truck applique with some newly-acquired Michael Miller Polka Dots (more projects with that soon!).

I wanted to use the fabric I had on hand (for custom stuff especially rather than go out and buy yards of fabric for samples that might then never get used), so I used some denim that had been “mined” from a pair of jeans in the thrift store pile. I’ve been saving old pants that are just going to get tossed or donated; I washed them and cut along the side seams and cut off the waistband — for men’s pants especially that’s a TON of great bottom-weight fabric, perfect for making a backpack out of.

I interfaced the denim to give it more bulk and serged all the inside seams. The notions needed (you can also use D-rings instead of strap adjusters) for this project are pictured here. In the pic above you can see it with strap adjusters (all are available at your local chain fabric store).

Here’s a couple of samples that didn’t make the cut:

I liked the middle one enough that it’s about halfway done already; the other two appliques will probably make it onto t-shirts or bibs. I use fusible web to iron them onto the fabric and then use a very short zig-zag stitch around all the edges.

I’ve been sent a ton of great pictures of backpacks lately from those of you who have made backpacks with the pattern — I’d love it if you would put them in the newly-formed photo pool so we can all admire them!

The actual address of the photo pool is: http://www.flickr.com/groups/toddlerbackpacks/