Every man needs a pocket square to enhance his style, display his personality or to match the occasion when donning a jacket. As a designer, you can draw a lot of satisfaction and probably learn a thing or two by making this essential suit accessory by hand- with a piece of fabric, needle, and thread.
How to Sew A Pocket Square by Hand
To sew a pocket square by hand, you will need a piece of fabric, a sewing needle, and some thread. To make your pocket square, you just need to cut it using a rotary cutter or fabric scissors to a perfect square, fold all the four edges and apply a nice hem with a normal running stitch or backstitch then press it with an iron.
Steps to Sew Pocket Squares by Hand
Sewing professional-quality pocket squares by hand requires a bit of patience, an eye for small details and a sense of style. For instance, you need to know how to make a professional-looking hem by hand with a simple needle and thread.
Choosing the right fabric also requires you to understand what goes hand in hand with the other. It can be a daunting task at first but you will soon be whipping out pro-quality pocket squares like magic.
Here is a detailed step by step process on how to make professional-quality pocket squares by hand and actually enjoy doing it!
What Do You Need to Make A Pocket Square by Hand?
Gather the following tools and materials in preparation to start making your pocket squares:
- A piece(s) of fabric- preferably silk, cotton or of the same material as the suit jackets you will be making it for. Be free to experiment with the colors although pocket squares are generally expected to match the shirt color/pattern or a certain theme.
- Pair of fabric scissors or rotary cutter and ruler
- A normal hand sewing needle
- Matching thread- preferably cotton or silk. The thread should match the color of the fabric you will be making the pocket square with so that it does not show on the top side. However, you are also free to experiment with a contrasting color if you are going for that style.
- Iron box to flatten the seam and finish the job
Here is what you are going to do for each step to make your very own hand-stitched pocket square:
- Measure and cut the fabric into a square
- Iron it and press it
- Fold the edges and hand sew a hem
- Iron the seam and press it
Step 1 – Measuring and Cutting the Fabric
Assuming you have identified and bought the fabric you are going to use; you should start by measuring the correct size for a normal size pocket square. We will measure a square of about 18 inches by 18 inches as standard pocket squares are of size 17in by 17in size. The extra inch will cater for the seam allowance.
Use a rotary cutter and guiding ruler/platform to cut a perfect square of the size we chose above. You are free to cut a bigger or smaller square depending on your stylistic preferences. For instance, some pocket squared do come in sizes of 10 by 10 while others are as big as 20 by 20. Keep in mind that the size of the jacket’s pocket might also determine the size of the pocket square you cut so be sure to do your homework.
When cutting, make sure you make the edges as smooth as possible to make the square neater especially since we shall be finishing the seam by hand and not a sewing machine or Serger.
Step 2 – Pressing and Ironing the Square
This is an optional step that might make your job much easier especially if the fabric you have cut is crumpled or has creases. Just lay the raw square down and press it with an iron until it’s super-flat and has no creases.
Step 3 – Folding the Edges and Sewing Your Seam
This is probably the most important step in the whole process as it involves folding the edges and hand-sewing a perfect and permanent seam. You may need to use your ironing box to make the folded edges even neater and easier to sew by hand.
Folding the edges
Start by making a ¼ inch fold on all the four edges making a 90 degree overlap on all the corners. It’s easier and neater if you fold each edge and press it with an iron before you proceed to the next one. Pay close attention to the four corners when pressing.
With the first fold done, make an additional ¼ inch fold on top of the previous fold to make sure the raw edge of the fabric is not exposed. This will prevent fraying since we are not applying any edge finish to it using a Serger or sewing machine. It will obviously also make the inside of your pocket square neat and professional. At this point the entire allowance should be done away with and we now remain with our pocket square as it will look before it has been folded to a desired shape.
Sewing the Seam
It’s now time to hand-stitch your pocket square. We’ll assume that you’ve already measured and cut enough thread to go all around the square and that you have attached it to your needle.
Start from one corner and sew a simple running stitch or backstitch from the right side of the square so that you can see what you are doing. Ideally, you should stitch in a way that the thread is only visible on the wrong side of the pocket square so that it looks professional. You can do this by making very narrow stitching intervals on the top and wide intervals from the bottom pulling the thread tight each step to make a disappearing stitch.
Don’t cut the thread and start afresh when you get to one corner. Instead, just sew to the center of the corner and turn the square to proceed with the next edge making a continuous stitch. Do this for all the edges finishing with a knot at the end to secure the stitch. Ensure that the knot is on the wrong side of the pocket square. Use your scissors to cut the thread and you will have completed the most difficult part.
Step 3 – Last Touches
This last step is also optional but recommended if you want to make your pocket square neat. Use you ironing box to press the hand-stitched edge and flatten it to complete the job. Congratulations! You have now made your very one pocket square and can proceed to fold and use it the way you want.
How big is a pocket square?
Standard pocket square sizes range between 10 by 10 inches to 17 by 17 inches with size 17” being the most common. However, sometimes the size of a pocket square depends on the size of the pocket on the suit jacket and stylistic preferences. You are free to cut your pocket squares to any size that you feel is appropriate.
Can I Wear Pocket Square Without Tie?
Yes, you can definitely wear a pocket square without a tie if you want to. In fact, a simple pocket square will spice your suit up if you decide to skip the tie. It’s not uncommon for men to swap their tie with a colorful pocket square depending on the occasion.
Having both the tie and pocket square missing is however not recommended as it makes the jacket look dull and even cheap. It’s amazing how important something as small as a pocket square can be to your overall appearance when wearing any jacket or blazer.