Bluff pockets

I’m not sure why I’m posting this. It’s not as though I’m going to tell you how to do it; I think it’d be more fun for you to figure it out yourselves so let’s call this a challenge. This construction process is one of those things that has sat in my head for years. When some people are trying to get to sleep, they count sheep. Me, I walk through this process. Below is a photo of what’s correctly known as a bluff pocket.

[Yes, I realize the shape is a little wonky but that’s because my too quickly made pattern was wonky. The shape has nothing to do with the construction process.]

Bluff pockets are named such because they are “bluffed on”; there is no outside stitching as is seen with traditional patch pockets. Some people describe these as “inside stitched pockets” because that’s how you sew them on -usually. I think Threads magazine did an article on these a couple of years ago (sing out if you have a citation). Have you ever made one? The article’s author claimed that the sewing looked harder than it really was. It did look complicated; I never tried it myself. Not like that anyway.


A couple of years ago, I came across some schematics and instructions for the drafts of these. I’ve scanned those for you; maybe you can figure these out with those. You’re probably smarter than I am but they didn’t help me much. I almost hesitate to put them up because it may lead you off on rabbit trails. For one thing, the instructions really don’t help you much with construction. That’s one problem with pattern books. They’ll tell you how to make the pattern for something but don’t give the sewing instructions, assuming you already know how to do it. Well I didn’t. Luckily, I figured out my way before I ever found these instructions, otherwise I might never have figured it out.

This first scan is from pg. 106 of Carr and Pomeroy’s Fashion Design and Product Development (not a bad book; I like the English books).

This is a typical way of representing seam formation (this is the image I go to sleep by, trying to figure it out). In the text, the authors mention that the pocket can be lined but the bag is loose inside the pocket. This I can’t figure out. My pocket is also lined but the bag is most definitely not floating around loose. It can’t be (that’s a clue). The full page scan is here (256 kb). Speaking of lining the pocket, here’s a photo of the inside of mine. You’ll notice there are no raw edges either (another clue).

The drafting instructions I found in Gerry Cooklin’s Pattern Cutting for Women’s Outerwear; another English text. By the way, I recently heard from Cooklin’s daughter Sasha who wrote me with some remembrances of her father (he died about 6 years ago). Apparently, he was a card and an unusual person (aren’t most pattern cutters?) to the extent that Jonathan Safran Foer wrote a book about him (I asked which title but she hasn’t said yet). Sasha writes:

He was very ill in his last years, but he still insisted on going to teach, oxygen cylinder and all. His motto was “work hard, play harder” – he loved to party, dance, good music (he was a fantastic jazz pianist). Superb cook – he actually started to write a cookbook – and he adored animals. He died very peacefully – at his funeral I read him an excerpt of his favorite book “the Call of the Wild”, and as befitting an Englishman, the day’s football results.

He was pretty tall and skinny, and a real ladykiller. We never lived together, but were pretty compatible on many levels. I think he left behind a great legacy as a teacher, and I think his books are a testimony to that.

I’ll bet he smoked :) but I digress. I scanned two pages from the aforementioned book which explains the drafts [pg.1 (278 kb) and pg.2 (265 kb)]. My pattern is different. The lining and shell are slightly different but other than a notch for hem allowance, my pattern shows no other notches. Cooklin’s drafts shows scads of notches but then, he’s assuming you’re sewing the pocket on from the inside so you’ll need them.

Anybody up for the bluff pocket challenge? It’d be interesting to see what you guys come up with. Oh and I almost forgot. My pocket was sewn entirely by machine. No hand stitching.

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