Thursday, May 10, 2012

Olive pocket

Last week I finished a new pocket (saccoccia) to go under my olive Italian-style tourney dress. I wear pockets in the split where my side-lacing dresses join, over my underskirt(s). I have adapted the style that we see in portraits:

 Woman at her Toilet (Donna alla toeletta), by Alessandro Allori, 1575-78, fresco, Florence, Church of Santa Maria Novella, Gaddi chapel, pg 138, fig. 71 from

Birth of the Virgin (Natività della Vergine), by Alessandro Allori, detail, 1595, Cortona, Church of Santa maria Nuova. pg 82, fig 71 in Moda a Firenze

My pockets are bigger, mainly because I carry around my money, camera, mobile phone, medication, lip gloss and other modern things as well as a hankie, spare lacing cords and things like that. So they need to be big!

I didn't have a wide enough piece of fabric to make the pocket front in one piece, so I adapted my pattern to allow for a seam in the front. When I make a pocket front from one piece of fabric, I slit the front and bind the opening (usually with a bias strip.)

I put tabs on the back of my pockets so that I can use them with any of my belts or sashes.


The little line of embroidery was sketched on in tailor's chalk and then worked in double running stitch. I will admit that it is probably the worst embroidery that I have done in many years, but I did work it in very low light as a bit of an experiment. I am working on a matching second pocket that has the same design and I am doing that embroidery under natural light. It is much neater and looks better! 



The pockets are made from scraps of fabric left over from the dress and lined in more scrap fabric. I made tassels out of brown crochet cotton. The pocket is machine and hand stitched. I tend to whip stitch the edges of even machine-made items to make them sit better. The tab at the top was far too thick to sew by machine anyway- my machine really doesn't do well with thick fabrics.

I was first introduced to the convenience and practicality of pockets by my friend THL Katerina da Brescia, who gave me my first pocket as a gift. I recommend her interesting website:

I also recommend the book Moda a Firenze as an excellent research tool and source of drool-worthy inspiration!

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