I have to warn readers now that lying at the heart of this ‘Creatively’ blog post is one of my pet peeves: namely, the lack of inside pockets in women’s coats and jackets. Now, I am not saying by any means that all manufacturers and designers are guilty of helping to create this situation, but that many seem oblivious to the fact that it isn’t only men that might want one. I do however hope that it isn’t just me that finds it annoying not to have a handy pocket to stash odds and ends; it may be that I am just being really picky, but I don’t think it’s an unreasonable feature to have in a garment. I would be interested to know what my fellow female readers think about this burning issue.
As you might have guessed, I have made it something of a crusade to tackle the lack of breast pockets in assorted clothes in my wardrobe. Initially, this sort of alteration followed on from making a few repairs to a belted mac that I have had for a few years. I had completely replaced the sieve-like side pockets with some new fabric (having given up on simply stitching up the holes). Then it occurred to me that I could have a go at making a breast pocket with one of the discarded linings. As the coat was quite old, I felt that I could risk a little customising without ruining anything. My efforts didn’t achieve a perfect result, but I was delighted with my mini pocket (see picture), which I cut to be just the right size for travel cards, which I am prone to losing on a regular basis.
After doing this alteration, I began to think about putting inner pockets into other jackets with a similar lack. To begin with, I played safe and took a leather jacket that I am fond of wearing, along to a local repairs and alterations service. I felt that I didn’t want to risk experimenting and spoiling anything. The tailor put in a pocket, made from similar coloured lining fabric for a very modest cost (see picture). The pocket has been so useful for safely tucking away travel card, train tickets, plastic and the odd bit of cash and as my phone is virtually pre-historic it also will fit neatly into the pocket, so that’s a bonus. Plucking up my courage, I thought I would have a go at doing some more alterations myself. Since this red pocket is larger than the one I had previously made for myself, I have decided to use it as a guide for future patterns.
The main thing I was concerned about was getting quite a good match to the original lining fabric, so that the addition of a pocket didn’t look strange. I know that the inside isn’t usually visible, but I would know if I had made a hash of the job. I also had to think about the line of the jacket and getting the pocket placed neatly. Clearly, putting an inside breast pocket in a woman’s jacket can be trickier than on a man’s jacket (maybe that’s why so many manufacturers can’t be bothered to do it). I was also only planning to attach a pocket and not to attempt to insert one into the lining, which could be tricky. I may pluck up confidence to try to add a pocket that way in the future. The other potential issue is that if the garment lacks a lining, then adding a pocket without stitching showing on the outside would be difficult. So far, I have only attempted adding pockets where I have a lining to sew them on to, so they are invisible from the outside.
To solve the fabric problem I found what I think is an ideal solution, when I spotted some very wide ribbon in a lovely shop called A.Rubanesque in Dublin. I hope you can see from the picture what I mean, where I have folded an end of ribbon up to form a pocket. I bought pieces in both black and white to try out in a couple of jackets. At the moment this is as far as I have come with the project. I think that I will over-sew the long sides and allow a small hem on the short edges. My other option is to bind the long edges with some narrow ribbon for extra firmness. Anyway, as with so many other projects, it is a work in progress.
I next need to find a nice bit of fabric to add a matching inside pocket into my camel coloured winter coat; however, that might be a tall order…
UPDATE: September 2016
Sadly, the lovely shop called A.Rubanesque has closed down now so I will have to search elsewhere for some more supplies of wide satin ribbon.