Thursday, December 2, 2010

Another to-do done: Chair pockets

Waaay back in October I mentioned that I needed to make chair pockets for Emily's classroom. It was a pretty big undertaking, but Em's teacher was so excited about my sewing skills that I couldn't turn her down. Last month we settled on a dark denim and secured five yards of it at JoAnn's. Yesterday I delivered 18 of these babies to a very happy educator.
These things are great in the classroom, but they'd also come in handy at the kitchen table, on patio chairs, and at little person art desks. Want to make some of your own?

First, measure the circumference of your chair back at the widest part. I made the mistake of measuring about halfway down because I failed to notice how the molded plastic flared out as it transitioned into the seat.  As a result, I underestimated how wide I'd need to cut my fabric.  By the time I was finished with my trying and erring I was only able to make 18 pockets instead of the hoped for 20.  Once you have the circumference, divide that number by two, then add one and a half inches for seam allowance. For example, if the circumference of your chair back is 28.5 inches, you will divide that by two (14.25") and add and inch and a half (15.75"). The width of your fabric needs to be at least 15.25 inches.

Next, measure the back of your chair from the top to about an inch above where the back meets the seat. The classroom chairs were 10.5 inches. Now triple that (31.5"). The length of your fabric needs to be at least 31.5 inches.

Now you can cut your fabric.  I'd recommend making one pocket from start to finish so you can tweak your dimensions before cutting a bunch of fabric for assembly-line style sewing. Just trust me on this one.

Because we chose denim, pinking shears were definitely the way to go to keep the fabric from fraying.  If you don't have pinking shears you can sew around the entire perimeter of your cut fabric with a zig-zag stitch.

Like most fabrics, denim has an obvious "right side" and "wrong side."  I wasn't sure how Mrs. Diefenderfer would feel about the wrong side being visible on the finished product so I figured out a way to have only right sides visible.  If you like the look of both sides of your fabric or if your fabric is not one that has a marked difference between the from and back, you can skip the next couple of steps.

I cut my fabric roughly one-third of the way up so I had two pieces; one eleven inches long and the other 21 inches long.
Lay the short piece on top of the long piece so the wrong side is facing up on both pieces of fabric.
Sew your pieces together using a 5/8 seam allowance, then press the seam open.
In the picture above you can see I also hemmed the short ends.  To do this, turn the end over 1/4 to 1/2 an inch and iron it.  Turn it over another 1/2 to 1 inch, iron it, and sew using a straight stitch.
Now, lay your fabric so the wrong side of the long section and the right side of the short section are facing up. Fol the long section until just before it meets the joining seam.

Fold the short section at the seam.. If you did not have to cut and rejoin your fabric you are essentially going to do a tri-fold.

Sew up both sides using a straight stitch.
At this point can flip your pocket right-side out and be done.
If you are like me, however, you are a little bothered by the way the outer pocket sags open. This is really easy to fix.

Flip the pocket that slides over the chair inside out. If you can see the side seams you have flipped the wrong pocket. Once the correct pocket is inside out, make a curved seam across the upper corner.  You'll start the seam 1 1/2 to 2 inches from the corner and end about an 1 1/2 inches below the corner.
Repeat on the opposite corner and trim the excess fabric.
Turn the pocket right-side out again and you are done.  It should fit snugly over the chair and the outer pocket should stay taut.

Now, fill it with books, paint brushes, scrapbook paper, whatever!

And enjoy!

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