dress a girl around the world - shaped pocket tutorial

March 9, 2011

For all of you who are visiting from LBG Studio, welcome!!!!  I am so glad to have you stop by!  I have to say that I am so honored and humbled to be involved with this fantastic event!!  I have 3 little girls and so I keep thinking of the adorable girls who will be wearing all of our dresses and how excited they will be!!!

I have to admit that this was the first time I had ever made a pillowcase dress!  Pillowcase dresses, to me, are like a blank canvas and are just begging for some great embellishments!  What little girl doesn't love ribbons and pom poms and pockets!  You have to have somewhere to put your treasures in.  :)

When I was trying to think of a pocket design I knew that I didn't want a traditional pocket, I wanted something a little different.  I LOVE color and wanted a way to spice up a plain pillowcase and bring some additional brightness and fun to these girls!  So, I came up with 3 different pocket shapes that are fun and easy to make.  To decorate them I use simple raw edge applique.  If you wanted to you can always just omit the pocket all together and use my applique patterns to decorate your dress, or anything really!  :)

Even though I am only showing a tutorial for this one version, all of the pockets are constructed in the same manner.  Having said that, if you have any trouble or any questions please do not hesitate to ask, I will happily help you in any way I can!!!

Ok, let's get started!  :)

Materials Needed:
  • fabric scraps or about a fat quarter, you are going to need different colors and amounts depending upon which design you choose
  • coordinating thread
  • lite steam a seam (1-2 sheets)
  • pencil
  • water soluble marker or chalk
  • scissors or rotary cutter (or both)
  • iron and ironing board
  • shaped pocket pattern (all 4 patterns are at the bottom of this page)  
***A little note on tracing my oh so awesome, hand drawn pocket patterns!!  :)  I am in no way a pattern expert and you will notice that these patterns are hand drawn and therefore NOT IN ANY WAY symmetrical.  SO, I would suggest that you trace one pocket piece with the pattern face up and the other pocket piece with the pattern face down.  This way you will be assured that when you sew the two together that the pieces will align correctly!  :)  ok proceed!***

First, you are going to have to cut all of your patterns out and get your supplies organized.  For the flower that I am using in this tutorial and in the pictures, I used various scraps from my scrap bin.  If this is not your style, I have also included the template for a solid flower. Once you have your fabrics and your steam a seam lite, you are going to want to trace the shapes of your pocket pieces and your flower petals and center onto your fabrics (read the next paragraph before you do this).  

For the pocket pieces, I just trace the shape directly onto the pocket fabric with a water soluble marker (please see above note) and then cut them out using my scissors.  Make sure that you mark the top of each pocket shape to make aligning them easier later on (this is what the "T" is on the pattern piece).  For the applique shapes (flower petals, flower center, ladybug body, head and spots and strawberry and stem), you are going to want to trace those onto the side of the steam a seam that does NOT remove easily with your pencil.  Once you have the shapes traced, cut the shapes out about 1/4" outside the pencil lines that you have drawn.  Now take your shapes and applique fabric scraps over to your ironing board and press the shapes onto the WRONG side of your fabric scraps according to the manufacturers directions.  You should now have a pile that looks something like this.

Now you want to use your scissors and carefully cut out your applique shapes along the pencil lines.  Your colorful pile should now look like this!  :) 

Now use your fabric marker or chalk to roughly mark the center of one of your pocket pieces.  This is just to help you align your petals onto your flower pocket.

Select 4 of your 8 petals and position them on your flower somewhat like this.  Just make sure that if you are using multiple colors or patterns that you have chosen your petals so that two of the same color group or similar patterns will not be too close together.  You will notice in my picture that the petals are not perfectly aligned to the center dot, I was more concerned with making sure that the outside edges of the petals were an equal distance from the outside of my pocket piece.  Remember that you are not going to see the center but you are going to have to sew your pocket together and I would hate for you to get all the way to the end just to realize that you were going to sew over your beautiful petals.  You want to leave about 3/8" between the edge of your petal and the edge of your flower pocket piece.

Press your petals in place and then repeat this process with your other 4 petals and your flower center so that you end up with this.  

Take your flower over to your machine and stitch all around your petals and the flower center with coordinating thread.

Take your other pocket piece and align the tops, place the two pocket pieces right sides together so that all of the petals match up nicely.  Your applique will now be on the inside.  Mark about 2" to leave open so that you can flip your pocket right side out after it is sewn.  Pin all around the perimeter of your pocket. 

Sew all around your pocket, except for the 2" you are leaving open, with a 1/4" seam allowance remembering to backstitch at the beginning and end.  I like to sew with the appliqued piece on the top so that I can make sure not to sew too close to the applique.

Clip and notch all of your curves. 

Turn your pocket right side out making sure to carefully push out all of the petals.  I use a wooden skewer with the sharp point cut off to help push out all of the points.  Iron everything neatly paying attention that you really retain the shape of the petals as much as possible.  After it is ironed, you are going to want to neatly turn in the edges of your opening and pin them in place.

Almost finished!!!!  You are going to want to topstitch the part of the pocket that will not be attached to the dress so that the petals will stay neat and the layers will stay together.  I topstitched around 3 petals.  This seemed to be a good size so that the girls could easily get their hand in the pocket.  Then, you are going to sew the pocket to the dress.  Just leave the part that you already topstitched open!  All finished!!  Yea!!

Here are all of the patterns!  Enjoy!!!

additional embellishment ideas:

  • use buttons or pom poms for the flower center or ladybug spots (of course, not for tiny girls)
  • patchwork on any of the designs would be awesome! (think outside the box!!!)
  • i used super tiny ric rac for the antenna but you could embroider them, put pom poms on the end, etc.
  • look at your notions and trims and just go for it!!!

I would love to hear from you and to know what you think!!!  Please let me know if something isn't clear or if you have any problems or questions!!!  Or just leave me a comment to say "hi"!!!  Thanks so very much and I can't wait to see all of your beautiful dresses!

***Please note that these patterns and templates are for personal use only, thanks so much***



  1. Great job Amy! Your dresses will definitely delight four little girls somewhere.

  2. These are just so adorable and thank you for the PDF's!!

  3. Wow! beautiful job! I love those bright and beautiful pockets. They really make the dresses special!

  4. Totally cute! I have few neices that would look adorable in them! Love your site too! It's my first time here and I will be back again!

    Literally Inspired

  5. LOVE these!! So cute!! Where can I find the pattern for the dress? Thanks and love your work!!

  6. Hi Rebecca! you can find links to a traditional pillowcase dress and a pattern to make one out of your own fabric on Vanessa's blog here!! Have fun!

  7. I love it! They are so cute. I was thinking of putting a flower applique on some of my dresses, but never thought to make a pocket from it! I love all the options with colors, and that you can dress up a plain pillowcase (which is mostly what I have). Can't wait to get sewing today!

  8. Oh...my...goodness!! That strawberry pocket is killing me!! Thank you so much for the tutorial!

  9. Hi - your dresses are adorable! I love the bright colors and the pockets. I also love your blog. I added your button to my blog too. Thanks!

  10. You were reading my mind! I was saying to myself that one of my pillowcase dresses was too plain and needed an applique. Thank you so much!

  11. Awesome!! This was my first attempt at a pillowcase dress too. I just finished the first one tonight. I just wrote in my blog that I hope to stay focused and make as many as I can without getting all crazy with additions that might hold me up! Lol. I totally need pockets and this is so cute.... even cuter because you've done all the work *thank you* you're the best!!

  12. Thanks for the tutorial! Love all the flower petals, I am in love with that line of fabrics!

  13. I came over from whipup and loved this tutorial so much ... I am your newest follower! :-)

    If you get the chance I would love you to visit me, too, of course ...
    And can not wait to check out the rest of your blog. :-)

  14. SO SWEET I almost got cavities staring at those pockets. Gracious me! <3

  15. Your dresses are darling!! Those pockets are fantastic Amy! You're so talented!! Thank you for the tutorials also! I've been thinking about my lunch tote and I'm going to add a small strawberry pocket to the front I think. Thank you for the step by step instructions!

  16. So sweet! What a lovely idea. Thank you for sharing. xx

  17. I featured you today! :) Hooray! I'd love if you stopped by!



  18. The idea of designed pocket is unique! I'd love to do that also on my baby's dress too. Thanks for sharing.

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  20. Love your dresses and the pockets are perfect!!!

  21. I am following your blog regularly and got great information. I really like the tips you have given. Thanks a lot for sharing. Will be referring a lot of friends about this. Keep blogging krk realty

  22. Beautiful! Thanks for the detailed instructins & templates, can't wait to embellish a dress or two with your cute pockets

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  24. Your dress is so beautiful, I wonering you like it very much, you like beautiful dress and me too, So i find a so nice accessories 2013 store,I think you have interesting to it.

  25. Love your little pockets but the templates would not open up. Can you share where they are or how I can get a hold of them. Just love them and want to put on my dresses too.


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