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How to Sew a Men's Shirt - Pocket

Guest Author - Tamara Bostwick

Preparing the Pocket for Sewing

In the last installment, I discussed how to arrange your patterns to match the fabric print. In this installment, we will finally get down to the nitty gritty of sewing the men's shirt!

Men's shirts have common basic elements such as a pocket, a collar, and sleeves but the assembly process can vary from pattern to pattern. For example, some shirts have a collar and collar stand and others use a one-piece collar. The pattern that I am using here utilizes a two-part collar (which are not as scary as they seem, really). As you follow along with this tutorial, be sure to always refer back to your own pattern instructions to confirm the steps that you should follow for your particular pattern in case they differ slightly.

For most men's shirt patterns, the first step is to apply the pocket to the left front (or both fronts, if there are two pockets). To prepare the pocket piece, press all of the edges toward the wrong side the amount of the seam allowance (verify what is called out on the pattern piece). Press the bottom and top edges over first and then the sides, folding the corners under so they are flat and crisp. After pressing, gently fold the pocket in half from top to bottom to check that the bottom angles are the same and that the sides are straightly pressed. This is a quick way to see if the edges are evenly pressed. If you plan to serge the pocket edges to finish them (not necessary), serge after pressing the seam allowances over.

If your pocket has a curved bottom rather than a pointed one like the example shown here, it can be difficult to press the curve smoothly. To make this easier, cut a template out of thin cardboard or cardstock (cereal boxes and file folders work great for this) following the outline of the finished edge of the pocket. Press the seam allowance over the edge of the template, creating a smooth, crisp curved edge.
Preparing the pocket for sewing

Next, you will fold the top edge of the pocket down as indicated by your pattern with right sides together. Make sure that the pressed seam allowance along the top edge is still folded over (see photo). Pin in place. Sew across the folded section from top to bottom following the crease you pressed for the seam allowance.
Preparing the pocket for sewing

Clip the corners, turn the top edge right side out and press in place, keeping the seam allowance folded under.
Preparing the pocket for sewing

Sew across the top of the pocket from one side to the other, catching the folded over seam allowance to finish the pocket hem. Your pocket is now ready to be applied to the shirt!
Preparing the pocket for sewing

Pin the finished pocket to the shirt matching up placement markers. Adjust slightly, if needed, to match the fabric pattern. Place pins in every couple of inches to keep the pocket from shifting while you are sewing.
Preparing the pocket for sewing

The pocket is sewn onto the shirt by stitching through the pocket and the shirt close to the edge of the pocket (edgestitching). An edgestitch/stitch in the ditch foot makes this much easier and more consistent. If you plan on sewing many shirts or do a lot of edgestitching or stitching in the ditch, I would highly recommend purchasing one.

Pockets take a lot of wear and tear because many men use their pockets to hold various items, so it is important to reinforce the seam at the top edge where the pocket is attached to the shirt. A good way to reinforce this area is to sew a narrow, long rectangle that stretches from the pocket hem seam to the top edge of the pocket (see photo). To do this, mark a line that extends from the pocket hem seam towards the top of the pocket 1/4 inch from the edge of the pocket (once you do this a few times, you won't need to mark the line anymore).

You will then sew around the pocket in a continuous line starting at the long point of one of the triangles (at the hem seam). Backstitch the beginning of the seam to secure it and continue sewing along the angled edge (hypoteneuse!) of the triangle, turn at the top edge of the pocket and sew a few stitches until you are close to the edge, turn again and edgestitch around the pocket. When you reach the top edge of the pocket, turn the corner and sew around the triangle, backstitching at the end to secure the seam. By starting the seam away from the strain point at the top of the pocket, you reduce the chances of the seam coming undone from pulling.
Preparing the pocket for sewing

The next tutorial will focus on sewing together the yoke and shoulder seams.

Happy sewing!

How to Sew a Men's Shirt Lesson Index

How to Sew a Men's Shirt - First Steps
How to Sew a Men's Shirt - Preparing the Pattern
How to Sew a Men's Shirt - Reading the Pattern
How to Sew a Men's Shirt - Cutting the Fabric
How to Sew a Men's Shirt - Matching the Fabric
How to Sew a Men's Shirt - Pocket
How to Sew a Men's Shirt - Sewing the Yoke
How to Sew a Men's Shirt - Sewing Shoulder Seams
How to Sew a Men's Shirt - Sewing the Collar
How to Sew a Men's Shirt - the Collar Stand
How to Sew a Men's Shirt - Sewing the Sleeves

Looking for more resources for making clothing? Check out these books!

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How to Sew a Men's Shirt - First Steps
How to Sew a Men's Shirt - Preparing the Pattern
How to Sew a Men's Shirt - Reading the Pattern
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Content copyright © 2015 by Tamara Bostwick. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Tamara Bostwick. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Cheryl Ellex for details.


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