Linen pocket

A while ago I started to take an interest in loose pockets. When my friend Cecilia and I got to dress in 18th century clothing when we shot the Walking wheel video at Vallby open air museum I desperately wanted to wear a loose pocket underneath my skirts. And when we were on a guided tour in the costume collections at Skansen open air museum I asked if we could see the loose pockets. Today I present my linen pocket. Warning: Nothing in this post is spinning related.

Can we talk about the size and weight of mobile phones? And the existence and if so the size of pockets on women’s trousers, skirts and dresses? With the few clothes that happen to have pockets large enough for a mobile phone the weight of the device turns the clothing askew. They may also tear or break.

As we got dressed for the Walking wheel video I insisted on finding loose pockets to wear underneath our skirts. Perfect for not so 18th century things like mobile phones, mini tripods and credit cards.

A loose pocket on the other hand is the perfect solution for both nonexistent, too small or torn pockets. It can be used and mended while keeping the trousers reasonably whole. The thought of different pockets for different occasions, seasons, mood or simply the crafting craving of the day is also appealing.

Loose pockets

A loose pocket is just what it sounds like – a loose pocket to wear around your hip, either plain and secretly underneath a skirt or visibly and decadently embellished, some semi visible with embellishments on only one half. Kjolsäck is the most common word for this accessory in Swedish – meaning skirt pouch. At a guided tour at the costumes collection at Skansen open air museum we got the opportunity to look at beautifully embellished kjolsäck pockets from different areas in county Dalarna.

Typically the wearer would keep important things like needles and a sewing or knitting project in the pocket, as well as herbs for staying awake during long church visits and perhaps something to keep the children at peace.

A pocket dream

I am not sure where this pocket dream came from, but it has been lurking in the back of my mind for a while, squeaking silently every now and then to remind me of its existence. I had an embroidery pattern in another corner of my mind, intended for something else, but as I realized that I could experiment with a pocket of my own I decided to practice the pattern on the pocket.

My plans for my first linen pocket.

Since I have no connection to either traditional regional costumes or reenactment I decided to make a style that I wanted and not follow regional costume rules or historical correctness. I just wanted a pocket to fit my needs now.

Recycled linen pocket

While I was planning my pocket project I decided to only use material that I had at home or that I had eBayed.

  • I bought two linen damask towels from Swedish eBay for the pocket material.
  • The linen embroidery yarns are also from Swedish eBay.
  • The linen weaving yarn is a commercial yarn from my stash.
  • I found a tablet woven band that I made a few years ago in a band weaving frenzy.
  • At the last minute I realized I needed key carabiners for the loops, and I got them from Swedish eBay too.
  • And oh, the embroidery hoop comes from a flea market.

A pocket recipe

Front and back

The first thing I did was to draw a line around my spread-out hand to find a size. I drew a shape I liked and transferred it to the pink (back side) towel. I made slightly larger version that I transfered to the turquoise (front side) towel. That way I got the opportunity to frill the front piece for a bellows effect. I also figured the bellowed front side would keep the pocket flat against my hip.


When the shape was drawn on the front side towel I started embroidering an amoeba shaped pattern with a couching stitch (läggsöm). I love the freedom of this stitch, I can just let the yarn lead the way and enjoy the ride. When I was happy with the embroidery I ironed interfacing on the back of the front side for protection and extra sturdiness. I cut out the front side and two back sides, with interfacing on one of them. To keep the shape neat I added an inner pocket for my mobile phone on the back piece and two band loops with carabiners for important stuff like keys and needle cases.


While I ruffled the bottom of the front pice for extra room I kept it tight at the top for a neat opening. I added a protecting Kumpay seam at the top of the pocket opening. I found it in the book Secrets of spinning, weaving and knitting in the Peruvian highlands by Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez and in an online course by Laverne Waddington.

Weaving, tubular and flat

After having tacked the front and back pieces together I wove and sew a tubular band in a linen yarn as an edging. This is common in the Andes and I found the instructions in the same sources as the Kumpay stitch. It was a bit fiddly and has a charmingly irregular look.

At this stage I had a very limited amount of the turquoise colour left. For the ties I used the same weaving yarn and wove a 180 cm band, ending with pretty cords of the warp ends. The colour pattern is carefully planned and only a meter or so remains of the turquoise yarn.

I warped the ties as a circular warp, which always fascinates me. But then again, weaving is such an amazing art form and I am only nibbling gently at a very small edge of the weaving universe.

A myriad of details in a small project

I love making small projects. It gives me the opportunity to try new techniques and adding details. The couching stitch, the Kumpay edging, the tubular band and the cords, all quite time consuming, but on a small project still doable.

Herbs and things for the kids aren’t my first choices to inhabit my pocket. I’m more into housing my mobile phone (or my husband’s in this case since I took the photo with mine) and any sort of textile project. The mini Pushka is there for good luck.

For the finishing touch I hand stitched the woven band onto the pocket. I had no idea really what to do with the warp ends of the tubular band, and I decided to simply tuck them in between the two back piece layers and hope they would behave.

More pockets to come

I have loved my first pocket project. There will be more pockets. I have learned from my first project and I will make some alterations for future projects. The linen towel was a little to thin and wobbly, at least on the front piece that was single. I may alter the size and the amount of bellow room. I like the opportunity to fit stuff into the pocket, but at the same time it mustn’t be too big and clumsy.

This will be a summer pocket and for my next I’m planning a more autumnal and wintery, in wool. There is so much to play with and I am ready to dive in.

and oh, a book is on its way to me – Pocket: A hidden history of women’s lives, 1660–1900 by Barbara Burman and Ariane Fennetaux. I can’t wait!

Happy spinning!

Thank you all 237 (a record!) who registered for last week’s breed study webinar on Åland wool and all 65+ who came to the livestream. I had the loveliest time!

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16 Replies to “Linen pocket”

  1. Gød Påske Josefin!
    I love this modern personal designed pocket you’ve made . I have a Swedish pocket I found at a Nordic sale at the American Swedish Institute years ago. It is of colorful felted wool on black wool. I am unsure of what districkt it is from. And I have just found a random hunk of linen in my stash for making a ‘summer’ pocket. I am currently in an embroidery phase in addition to spinning, so this is perfect. I hope you will share your upcoming seasonal pockets with your readers.
    Stay well.

  2. Many years ago I had the good fortune of conserving a late 18th century American pocket. Most of the stitching had deteriorated leaving the lining visible. The seamstress had used several layers of newspaper to stiffen the pocket. The pocket itself was a scrap of silk that I imaging was left over from making a dress or bodice. It was very interesting to be able to read the exposed paper and imagine that the pocket had been made to match an outfit. Considering it’s fragile state, it was well used.

  3. Thank you for these photos and instructions on how you made your beautiful pocket. I am now interested in making one, since it seems very useful.

    From the final photo it looks like you attached it to yourself by tyeing it around your waist — I say that because of what looks like fringe hanging down from under the right side of your shirt. Is that so?

    By the way, I love the shirt — it has character of a hand-made item. Did you make it?

  4. LOL, I opened this page while taking a break between cutting and sewing a pocket 😀

    And it isn’t my first, I always wear them and I make sure that all of my skirts have slits or zippers on the sides so that I can access my hidden pockets.

  5. All my everyday dresses and skirts have pockets – but I’m still tempted to make one or two of these for use in the garden.
    And now I’m wondering whether sewn-in pockets which can’t hold knitting are really big enough after all!

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