How To Hand Sew A Pocket Square (With Rolled Edges & Everything)
After I made a few pocket squares last month, a few followers were interested to know how I made them. I’m only moderately skilled with a needle and thread, and I don’t claim that the following tutorial represents the best or only way to do this. With that disclaimer, I’m glad to share some instructions and suggestions on how to turn a scrap of fabric into a finished accessory.
Even if you lack the sewing skills to tailor or make your own clothes, hand-making pocket squares is a great way to inject a strong dose of creativity and individuality into your wardrobe. Your options are only limited by what suitable fabrics you can find, and it’s also a great way to reuse to your old favorite shirts or other textiles that have a personal meaning for you.
Ready? Let’s begin.
1. Select your fabric.
For this tutorial I’ve selected a medium weight cotton fabric in a plain weave. I finished the edges of the pocket square with a rolled hem, which works best on fabrics of a light or medium weight.
For your first pocket square, you may want to use a fabric that has a small regular check pattern, such as gingham or the tattersall pattern shown here, since you can use the pattern as a guide to keep your stitching straight and evenly spaced.
You can make a pocket square to whatever dimensions you require, but your fabric must have additional height and width to form the rolled edge. Each rolled edge will use about 1/2 inch of fabric, so you’ll need at least an extra inch of fabric for both height and width to start off.
2. Press Your Fabric.
Do not skip this step; it makes everything that follows easier. Once you’ve chosen your fabric, get out your iron and press that fabric. Press one side completely. Turn it over and press the other side — You want your fabric completely flat, smooth, and even. If your fabric is skewing and the threads are not laying in straight lines, gently pull the fabric into shape and press it again.
3. Cut the Fabric.
Next, you need to measure and cut a square out of your fabric. I wanted a 13” square, so allowing an extra 1/2” for each edge, I needed a 14” square of fabric.
Mark your cut lines with chalk, a marking pen, or a soft graphite pencil. If your fabric has a selvedge, you can use that for one edge. If you’re using a woven check or plaid fabric, it’s easiest to cut along one of the lines in the pattern. Frayed edges will make the next few steps harder, so cut following the line of the threads.
After you’ve cut your square, mark a line 1/2” from each edge. Or, if you’re using a plaid or check, find a guideline in your pattern 1/2” from each edge. To keep your edges straight, you’ll sew along this line as you finish each edge.
4. Thread Your Needle.
If your fabric is very light or delicate, choose a smaller needle. If you’re using a medium weight cotton like this, a standard needle will do.
Choose the color of your thread to match your fabric. I used white thread here so my stitches could be more visible in the photos, but ideally you should choose your thread to hide your stitches. The slip-stitch that you’ll use to sew the edges is designed to be hidden, so save the contrast stitching for another project.
Cut a length of thread just over twice as long as the edge of your square. Knot one end and thread your needle.
5. Roll It!
With your fabric in front of you, hold the top right corner of your fabric between your left thumb and forefinger. Draw your thumb down against the top edge of the fabric so it rolls onto itself tightly. Roll the corner down until it almost reaches your guideline 1/2” from the edge. Pinch the roll with your left and hold it in place.
6. Start Stitching.
Take your needle and thread in your right hand. Choose a spot on your guideline about 1/4” from the right edge. Catch 2 or 3 threads in the fabric on your needle. Pull your thread through and stitch down again over the same spot.
Next: The Slip. Keeping the needle pointed to your left, slide the needle parallel to and into the rolled edge at the point closest to your first stitch. Bring the needle out of the roll 1/2” to the left of that. Think of the rolled edge as a tube: You want to your needle to slip through only the outermost layer of the tube — not to pierce through the middle of it.
Now, catch 2 or 3 threads with your needle at the guideline, directly below the end of the previous stitch. Pull your thread through to secure your stitch.
Repeat, alternating the 1/2” stitches along the inside of the tube with short 2-or-3 thread stitches along your guideline. As you work left to right, use your right hand to stitch while your left rolls the edge.
When you reach a spot 1/4” from the left edge of your fabric, catch 2 or 3 threads and sew down again on the spot, leaving a loop of thread. Pass your needle through the loop and pull firmly to knot the end of your stitches. Trim off any excess thread.
Rotate the fabric 180° and repeat steps 4 through 6 on the opposite edge, making sure your edges are rolled towards each other.
8. The Corners
Rotate your fabric another 90°. As you roll the top left corner, tuck in the top of the rolled right edge as you roll with your left thumb and forefinger. Don’t worry about perfection here. Just keep the roll tight so there are no loose threads showing.
Before you stitch this edge, catch a few threads on the rolled corner, then stitch down on your guideline a couple times to tack the corner into place. Don’t worry if it takes a couple stitches to tack that corner down. As long as your stitches are small enough and spaced tightly together, it will look great.
Sew the rest of the edge as before. When you reach the end, tack that corner down in the same way and end your stitches with a knot as before.
9. Finish It Off!
Rotate your fabric 180° and repeat step 8.
That’s it! You’re done!
I hope some of you find this useful. Please feel free to reblog, share, send feedback, or ask questions. If anybody uses this tutorial, I’d love to see your finished pocket squares!
Esther Quek wrote a three piece suit clinic for The Rake.
Not only is this a great display of three piece suits, but it also serves as a more than sufficient guide to managing checks and plaids in suits and jackets.