You know what I have never managed to make for myself as a historical costumer, despite how quick they are? 18th century pockets!
I’ve made them as demonstration pieces as a teacher, for clients (no, I no longer sew for clients), and, in non-accurate versions, for my mother, who likes to use them as portable farm pockets. But I’ve never made them just for me!
Since my basket would be full of fruit, I needed someplace to hold all my personal stuff: lip balms and room keys. Standard Georgian street vendor belongings – you know.
Time for pockets.
I went through my stash for pocket inspiration. I was hoping I had some appropriate chintz or 18th c-esque printed cotton (this pair from the MFA Boston is still my ultimate pocket love), but alas, the stash did not supply.
Someday I’ll make a lovely embroidered pockets, but these ones needed to be relatively fast.
So what could the stash supply?
How about something very eco friendly? Perfect for putting some of the values that we’re working on spreading through Costumers for Climate Action to play.
I’ve had this curtain remnant for so long I can’t remember where it came from. Nana possibly?
It’s definitely been well used and loved. There are faded sections, and small stains.
But it’s awfully cute: birds and insects and little caterpillar worms! There was enough in reasonable condition left that I could cut two pockets – and the remaining scraps could become cleaning cloths.
I based the pattern off of the diagram in Patterns of Fashion.
Because these aren’t intended to be historically accurate pockets, I machine sewed them, and bound them with bias tape. The bias tape also vintage and probably inherited from Nana. Like the fabric, it wasn’t in the best condition, and had some age marks.
Based on the pockets I’ve made for clients and as demonstrations, I’ve decided I prefer pockets that are sewn to a waist tape, rather than ones that have a channel that you thread the waist tape on to. That way they stay exactly where you want them to with wear, and have less bulk around the waist.
The cotton sewing tape I used is an op shop find. There was an entire basket of 2m lengths of tape, each individually bundled up with a rubber band (insert ‘are you kidding me’ hand-to-face emoji here) at an op shop. They were 20c apiece, so I bought the whole basket full. Apparently they made some poor volunteer cut up a whole roll and bundle it, because they didn’t think anyone would buy the whole roll. All that, for 20c apiece…
I took them home, removed all the rubber bands, and dropped the resulting 40+ bands at another op shop which sells its fabric bundled up with rubber bands. They were grateful for the donation, and I’ve been working my way through the cotton sewing tape every time I need a length under 2m.
The tape is only 1.5cm/ 5/8″ wide, so I sewed it to the back side of the top edge of the pockets, and then cut another short length just a bit longer than the top of the pocket to cover raw edges from the top side.
So, my pockets are made from recycled fabric, and old, less-than-perfect bias binding, with op-shop sewing tape.
But best of all, despite being not at all historically accurate, these pockets aren’t just a throwaway prop costume. When I replace them with ‘proper’ pockets, they will go to my mother, for use around the farm.
When I wear them they are full of business cards, lip balm, extra hairpins, keys and a cell phone. One day they will be full of bits of twine, macadamia nuts, pairs of clippers, seed packets, and any miscellaneous cherry tomatoes, green beans and small fruits my mum finds on her work around the farm.
Ironically, I still haven’t really made pockets for me, because a group of lovely friends showed up for my annual not-on-my-birthday ‘birthday’ party, where I ask people to sew for me instead of giving my gifts (best present ever!), and much of the construction of these was completed by helper friends.
They even did lovely finish-y things like folding and hemming the ends of the tape.
So, these are my very green pockets, made from recycled fabrics, having a second life with me, before they have a third life on the farm, and representing all the friendship and love in my life.
I love everything about them!
Plus, they were modelled by Felicity, so what could be better than that!