Monday, August 15, 2011

Elementary School Chair Pockets

Blondie told a few of the teachers at school that I was going to post the pattern for chair pockets. Welcome teachers! I'm glad you stopped by! I hope the photos and pattern directions are helpful and written clearly enough for you to follow. (Secretly I hope they are easy to follow because I already made 26 and I'm ready to move on to other projects.)

The school desks where Blondie teaches are too small for holding all the school supplies and books that the children need in the classroom. Tina McCulloch designed the following easily modifiable pattern to help solve the problem. Leave it to a school teacher (or home school mom) to come up with great solutions on a limited budget!

An ingenious solution for limited desk space designed by 
a 3rd grade teacher!
Each chair pocket takes about 10-15 minutes to make depending on your machines and your sewing set up. We were able to get two chair pockets from a yard of fabric, if your chairs are a different size, you might need more or less fabric. The finished width of these is 15.5"

We found upholstery fabric at the local thrift store and were able to make 26 chair pockets for $7, not including thread. The material is not the most beautiful, but it is very kid friendly. Sturdy, lots of pattern, and dark colored to hide dirty finger marks.

Tina suggests that you pre-wash the fabric before you cut and sew it. We didn't. Blondie and I both have front loaders with gentle cycles. If the chair pockets need washed, we will air dry them after washing in a cold/gentle cycle instead of putting them in the dryer. This fabric shouldn't shrink unless we wash it in hot water and then send it through the dryer.

The Pattern and Directions
Cut a 16" strip of fabric from selvedge to selvedge. This photo shows the fabric folded in half then cut. Cut off the selvedge edge. I use a cutting mat and a circular cutter to make the cutting go faster. It took about 30 minutes to cut out the fabric for 26 chair pockets.

From the strip of fabric, cut a 35" piece (on the left) and a 9" piece (on the right).  You might have some fabric from the strip left over. I had a 10" section left--not shown in the photo.

Serge the short ends of the 35" piece and one long edge of the 9" piece. I serged both edges of my 9" piece in this photo, but it isn't necessary since one edge will be inside a seam later on. 

On the 35" section fold 1/2" seam towards the right side on one edge and the wrong side on the other edge. On the 9" section fold 1/2" seam towards the wrong side. If you only serged one edge, hem the serged edge. Sew along the hem. See photo!  

Pin the 9" section right side down (wrong side up) on the wrong side of 35" section 10" from the edge. The edge on the right of the 35" section is the one that has the hem towards the right side of the fabric. The hemmed edge of the 9" piece will be on the left, the raw edge (mine shows a serged edge) will be stitched to the 35" section. See the photo. Pin (yeah... right!) and sew along the edge.

Fold the 9" section towards the hemmed edge so the right side is up. Stitch along the folded edge about 1/8" away from the fold.

Lay the 35" piece (with the 9" pocket attached) right side up (pocket will be on the bottom). Fold the pocket towards the right side. Fold so the bottom edge of the pocket with the topstitching is on top. See photo, the right side of the photo shows the top-stitching of the 9" pocket.

Fold the hemmed edge (the edge that is hemmed towards the wrong side) over the pocket and match  the bottom of the top-stitched 9" pocket with the hemmed edge. 

Stitch along outer edges. In the photo, the left and right edges were stitched and then serged. Double stitch the side seams at the bottom of the pocket to give it more strength. Remember kids will be wiggling against the pocket and the bottom seams of the chair pocket will need to be strongly stitched!

Fold the top corner flat and stitch about 1" away from the point. Stitch the other corner, too.

Here is the chair pocket completed, but inside out. Use a large blunt tipped needle (chenille needle) to bury the serged threads that are hanging out the bottom into the side seams. No need to trim the 'ears' on the top, they will give a little more stability to the top corners of the chair pocket.
Turn the chair pocket right-side out.
One pocket shows the wrong side of the fabric. If you don't like that, make sure your fabric is the same on both sides. Blondie and I didn't worry about it--not when the fabric cost was only $7.

If you are very careful about placing the 9" pocket you can get the stripes (or pattern) on the 9" pocket to line up with the stripes on the part that hangs on the chair. I didn't worry about it much, and Blondie was just glad to have them done before Back-to-School night next week.

We were able to piece together the extra fabric to make 4 more chair pockets so Blondie would have 26 made of only two different fabrics. I'm fairly certain that the pieced ones will hold up just as well as the ones made from only two pieces of fabric since I seamed them and then zig-zagged the seam open. Unless you look really closely at them, you can't tell they were pieced because the fabrics we used are dark and have alot of colors in them.

You can adjust the pattern by measuring around the seat back of the chair, dividing that number in 2 and adding 1" (for seam allowances). Cut your fabric that width instead of 16". (example: if measuring around the front and back of your chair gives 36", divide 36" by 2 = 18" + 1" seam allowance = 19" strip width. No need to change the pocket sizes unless you want deeper pockets.

If you have any trouble.... call Tina. Or you can leave me a message in the comments and I'll help, too!

2 comments:

Dawn said...

I just wanted to say THANK YOU for this pattern! I've made chair pockets before, but I wanted some that the kids could keep their water bottles handy this time. Tweaking your second pocket with a simple seam made that possible for mine :-) Your instructions were very clearly written. I walked through the first one, and made a couple of mistakes, but after that I was able to make them assembly line style with no problems whatsoever! Thanks again!

TJ said...

You're welcome! I'm so glad someone else can use the instructions and make it work for them! My daughter would probably think the water bottle idea was a great one.... if their desks weren't so small!