Smocked Pocket Pattern



Life certainly has gotten in the way of the Liberty sundress I am making for Laurel. (UPDATE: But it is finally finished! Click here.)   Fortunately, with all of our Florida sunshine, the dress is likely to  be worn 9 months of the year.  But  my 89 year-old aunt seems to be failing at an alarming rate and has needed more attention than usual.  Then I discovered that all but two of my SAGA magazines are missing, either lost in the hurricanes or lost in the garage.  Fortunately, I remembered that I had copied the pattern and was able to retrieve it.  So finally, progress is being made.

The smocked pockets were just the touch this little dress needed.  The Florence Roberson pattern, published in The Smocking Arts, date unknown, is unlike anything else I’ve seen and  makes up so sweetly. Though the no-show attachment to the dress is a little tedious, the puffy pocket is worth the effort.

The pattern is included below.



Because of the filet crochet yoke I am using, I decided to crochet a little edge on the top of the pockets.  But I have no proficiency at this needleart, so it took me a while and the results are hardly worthy to be included on a garment with the beautiful yoke.  Still, as Martha Pullen once said, “If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly until you get good at it.”  I like that—and hope to be good at it some day.

The directions are very clear, but I did things a little differently because of the crochet edging.

  • photo copy pattern pieces
  • cut out and tape to card stock–I use my double sided tape for this and dozens of other things in the sewing room.
  • cut out pattern on card stock
  • starch and press fabric
  • trace pocket pattern onto right side of fabric
  • transfer mark for center bottom
  • draw top pleating thread line 3/4″ from original top edge of pocket
  • straight stitch along  cutting line
  • draw line 1/4″ above cutting line at top of pocket (to be folded down later)
  • trim near cutting line/basting stitches and along + 1/4″ line
  • press 1/4″ extra at top  to wrong side
  • baste 1/4″ in place, leaving original cutting line at top of pocket
  • wrong side~note folded, basted top edge and wing needle holes for crochet

    wrong side~note folded, basted top edge and wing needle holes for crochet


  • pleat with extra long threads
  • flatten pleats and press pocket–spray starch again if fabric is not crisp…I did this before pleating but think it would work best after
  • straight stitch very close to fold with unthreaded wing needle –use Stitch & Ditch under
  • roll and whip raw edge
  • crochet edge
  • attach pocket to skirt–I found it easier to hand baste in
  • smock

In most instances, I prefer that  lace (or crochet or whatever trim) not be cranked through the pleater.  It seems like unnecessary stress on a delicate textile, so I add trim after pleating.

Rolling and whipping the raw edges of the pocket was neither suggested nor necessary.  There is nothing objectionable about a raw edge inside the pocket, but a finished ege is nicer.    The fabric was trimmed 1/8″ from the straight stitched cutting line then rolled and whipped just to that line.  This kept the original shap of the pocket, though it doubt it would have made a significant difference if I had gone beyond that cutting line a little.

The first two rows of crochet were done with DMC #12 perle cotton. But when I began the picots, it just seemed too heavy so I moved on to a finer needle (1.40) and DMC #70 tatting thread.

After the crochet is completed, the folded under fabric just below the crochet was trimmed away then the basting stitches were removed.  After the first pocket, I learned that it is easier to trim away while the basting threads are in place and removed after trimming.

I love this little pocket and am grateful to Florence Roberson for designing and sharing it with us.  If you have trouble extracting it from this post, just post a request in the comments and I will e-mail it to you.

Have you ever used a crochet or tatted yoke on a new garment?  This is my second (see Miss Alice’s Tatted Yoke) but the shape and addition of smocking makes it different from my experience.  I’d love to hear from you if you have any tips.

Now I’m off to finish up the dress.





20 responses to “Smocked Pocket Pattern

  1. Everything on that little pocket is exquisite! Your smocking, crochet, everything! What did you do to attach the crochet to the fabric? Did you hemstitch or something to made holes to work through? Or did you sew it on afterwards? I just started crocheting an edging on another baby blanket. Can’t wait to see your finished dress! I have a few vintage crocheted yokes that I’ve intended to turn into nightgowns; maybe you will inspire me to get one done!

  2. Thanks, Elisabeth Rose. An unthreaded wing needle was used to straight stitch through the folded edge, using my edge stitch foot to keep the holes just past the fold. That edge was first basted down. Then the wing punched holes to accommodate the crochet hook. After the crochet edge was finished, the excess fabric was trimmed away. I’m going to have to follow your lead and work on some blankets. That should improve my crochet skills.

  3. I love the little smocked pocket! Unfortunately, when I tried to print off the pattern and instructions, only part of it printed. I would be grateful if you could email it to me. Thanks so much!

  4. Lynn Poulin

    LOVE the smocked pocket–it adds something extra to a little girl’s dress. Would it be alright to share this with my smocking guild? Many of our members are either new to smocking or just getting back to it and are on the look out for eaasy patterns. Thank you for your interesting blog and a belated thank you for the fil tire design that you graciously emailed to me!

  5. Sophia Patterson

    A perfect way to “spice up” a dress or top. Thanks for sharing these directions. I can’t wait to try this. I am going to print this right now.

  6. I’m glad you all like the pocket as much as I do. Lori, it has been sent to you. Lynn, by all means share this with your smocking guild. I would appreciate it if you would reference my blog in hopes that I will get a few more readers. This pattern was first published in their magazine for the use of smockers everywhere. I tried to track down Florence Roberson to request her permission, but was unable to locate her. This was printed at least 20 years ago. I hope you all will share photos of your pockets when you get around to making some.

  7. Catherine Tiemann

    I just love your little smocked pocket and would love to have the pattern and instructions. It is the first I have seen exactly like this. Please email it to me if possible. I do have a copy of one of Florences patterns. Sweet memories that are as new today as then.

  8. Love it! It is just so sweet. I managed to copy the instruction page for my files. Doesn’t that sound organized? Don’t believe it! I have crocheted a baby blanket and plan to do more, but I did crochet an edging but did it on entredeux, see my post on it at:

    I do have a suggestion: I would love to see you take these instructions and turn the whole post into a pdf and post it as a tutorial. That way your readers can download it easily and share it with their various sewing groups.

    I love Martha’s quote! I’ll have to remember that one.

  9. Lorraine Whyte

    Hi Janice,
    I came across this site by accident. Instantly recognized your name and also the puffy pouch pockets. I used this pattern on a valentines dress I smocked for Monica over 25 years ago. Those pockets really made the dress.
    This pattern appeared in issue 14 dated Fall 1983 Vol.V No.1
    It is from her pattern Smocked Sundress and Panties from Little Sunday Dresses.

  10. Shirley, AZ

    I love the little smocked pocket. Many years ago I taught a series of sewing classes on “Pockets”. It came about as an off-shoot of the jacket tailoring class that I was teaching also at the same time. I had great fun researching various kinds of pockets and the many ways they can become a part of the garment. If you would be so kind as to email me the directions for this one, I would appreciate it so much. Thanks again for the help that you so freely share.

  11. Hi Lorraine–It’s great to hear from you! Thanks for the info about the smocked pockets. I’ll be putting this up as a .pdf file soon and will include the issue number and date. Are you still smocking? Any grandchildren? Drop me an e-mail if you get a chance– I’d love to hear from you.

  12. You do sound organized, Cynthia! You will need quick and easy access to your idea files to use up all the extra time you have from carpooling on your long commute. Reading about your extra 2 1/2 hours each day for handwork made me start thinking about getting a real job! Thanks for the suggestion to put the smocked sleeve in a .pdf file. I’ve already converted it and will post it as soon as I figure out how to put up a section for tutorials.

  13. Ann Catherine Jouett

    Dear All,
    I was doing some research on the web and stumbled across this blog and questions about my grandmother, Florence Roberson. She passed away almost 10 years ago at almost 90 years old! In my opinion, she was one classy lady and I adored her. It is really neat to read what others write about her and to know her legacy lives on through smocking. I live in Fayetteville, Arkansas and still meet smockers who use her patterns and say she is a legend. I talk to my own daughter about her all the time. Thanks for continuing with the lost art… it is beautiful.

    Ann Catherine

  14. I’m sorry to hear that your grandmother has passed on. And you are right, she was a very classy lady and a wonderful teacher. Her patterns, classes, inspiration and contributions to the smocking/heirloom sewing world are immeasurable. I had already planned to write a post about her patterns and a funny anecdote from when were teaching together in Jacksonville, FL many years ago. Thanks for letting my readers and me know that she is enjoying her heavenly reward.

  15. Love it! I want to add it to some of the Little Dresses for Africa that I sew, but the whole pattern would not print out. Could you please email it to me. Thanks!

  16. The pattern has been sent. I hope it prints for you.

  17. Thank you for providing so many wonderful ideas and tips on your website! I’m wondering how to get the smocking threads on the pouch pocket. Do you baste them in by hand? Or is it possible to get them to curve into the pleater? Or perhaps there are curved dots one could use? I want to add these pockets to a bishop I’m making for my great-grandbaby, using a printed cotton (Liberty, I think).

  18. Martha, I am so happy that you will use this pattern for your great-grandchild! You should have no trouble running it through the pleater. Florence Roberson said that she worked for some time to get the curve just right and she did. Good luck with this sweet project. I would love to see a photo when you are finished. Happy smocking!

  19. It is really beautiful !!!
    I would love learning smocking 🙂

  20. I do hope you will find a way to learn smocking. Surprisingly easy, English smocking has just a few basic stitches. Soon you will be ready for a project. Thanks for your comment.

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