Sewing 18th Century Pockets

When I made my Claire from Outlander (Season 1) costume last year, I didn’t include pockets in the skirt.  Pockets make every outfit magical, from 18th century on.  So rather than adding the pockets in the skirt I so desperately coveted, I decided to make a set of traditional 18th century pockets that could be worn underneath any 18th century dress (over petticoat, under skirt/dress).  Because pockets!



When my dogs attacked my prized Pottery Barn duvet cover in the dead center of it (rendering it completely useless as bed clothes), I cut the bottom lining off to use for other projects and saved the decorative top for…whatever may come up.  Turns out I have super educated and talented friends who spotted the pattern as Indienne, a fabric pattern popular between 17th and 19th centuries.   So I cut down a quarter of the duvet cover for an 18th century jacket (to be completed at a later date) and used some scrappy areas for a stomacher and pockets.  Take that, you pack of wild derpy fur babies!



I used an old Butterick B4484 pattern that I found on Etsy, but in retrospect, a pattern isn’t necessary if you know what you’re doing (I’m still learning).  Besides, the pattern was $30 and also included patterns for stays, a petticoat, and hoop pockets.  If you don’t have a pattern and think you can go at it on the fly (you go, girl), I’ve included simple steps below so you could make pockets any size and shape you prefer.



18th Century Pockets How-To

  1. Cut 2 pattern and 2 contrast solid pockets shaped similar to mine above (I only needed 3/8 yd fabric for both)
  2. Cut a slender triangle in the top half center of the pockets for the openings, sew a reinforcement stitch 1/4″ from the slit edges
  3. Sew triple fold bias tape on slit edges
  4. With wrong sides together, sew pattern to contrast fabric all the way around
  5. Sew bias tape around outside of pockets
  6. Tie spare bias tape around waist and pin where you would prefer your pockets to be (mine are slightly forward from my sides, where modern pockets would be)
  7. Sew bias tape closed in one long stitch, including the pockets (see below)
  8. Put them on and twirl because pockets make every girl happy



The whole process from start (cutting pattern & fabric) to finish (sewing last bias tape closed) took about an hour.  And yes, my iphone fits in the pockets nicely.



These make me sooooooo happy!


Also on the blog: 18th century pocketspetticoatsjacket, a stomacher, stays, and a drawstring bag.


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2 Comment

  1. Veronica Morales says:

    OMG, this is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen! Thanks for sharing. I’m obssessed with pockets. My designer mind is flying and seeing these in so many ways, like an accessory, you can change any outfit!

    1. Sheila says:

      Pockets are magical, aren’t they? Thank you for visiting and let me know what you design! -Sheila

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