DIY Classroom Chair Pockets and Seat Sacks

Chair pocket made from 65%polyester/35%cotton canvas fabric commonly known as trigger.

UPDATED 6/28/2016 to include sewing directions!

Here’s a photo of a completed seat sack in my friend’s kindergarten classroom. The kids were so excited when I brought one in for them to test drive this morning. We wanted to see if this one was indeed deep enough to hold all of the items the teacher planned to put in the pocket. (It was deemed a little too big by the end of the day). Another kindergarten teacher test drove the second version (e.g. “standard” model) I’d made. Based on their feedback, I am sewing yet another version and am editing the tutorial as I sew along.

It takes about 1/2 yard of fabric + 15 minutes of time to make this seat sack from start to finish. Assembly line sewing (4 at a time) will help speed up the process.  I made 24 of them on a Janome 6600 using stitch #1 for seaming and stitch #10 to overcast the seams as my serger was packed up.  If I get another order for 24 seat sacks, believe me, I will unearth that serger and put it to use!

FABRIC:  Canvas, duck cloth, denim, trigger or upholstery fabric is suggested.  Select a medium or dark color to help hide dirt.  Washability is important.  Trigger is a popular choice for seat sacks.  It is 65% polyester/35% cotton blend fabric that launders well and holds up to heavy student use.  It is also 59″ wide, which means you get get 3 seat sacks per yard of fabric for the smaller size chairs. Joann’s also has “rodeo” fabric in the same color range as the “trigger” fabric, but it is a 60% polyester/40% cotton blend fabric and comes 44″ wide.  You will only get 2 seat sacks per yard of fabric.

THREAD:  Use a polyester or cotton-covered polyester thread.  50 wt cotton thread quilters commonly use for piecing won’t hold up.  I used a size 12 universal needle and Coats Dual Duty for my seat sacks made from trigger.  No problems.  If using super heavy upholstery weight fabric, consider using upholstery thread and a size 16 or 18 needle.

CALCULATING RECTANGLE CUTTING SIZE:  The good news is chair pockets are nothing more than a rectangle. Chances are, your chair is 12″, 14″ or 16″ wide if making seat sacks for an elementary size plastic stack chair.  To confirm, measure the width of the chair where the seat meets the back of the chair.  You also need to measure the height of the seat back from the top to where it intersects with the seat.

TO MAKE TYPE OF SEAT SACK IN THE PHOTO (fits curved back chairs):
12″ chair – cut a rectangle 17″ x 36″
14″ chair – cut a rectangle 19″ x 36″
16″ chair – cut a rectangle 21″ x 38″

Cutting width:  chair width + 2.5″
Cutting length:  (seat back height x 2) + 8″ for pocket + 2″ seam finish + 2″-3″ for gusset (if desired)


  • Cut 1 rectangle for each chair pocket. Refer to chart above for cutting sizes.
  • The short ends are the top and bottom of the rectangle.
  • Sew a ½” double hem on top and bottom edges of the rectangle. The hems should face opposite directions.  For example, fold the top edge to the left and fold the bottom edge to the right.  Press.

Top portion that goes over the back of the chair:

  • Position the fabric rectangle with the right side of the top hem facing you. Make a mark 14″ down on either side.  Fold top edge down so that the bottom of the hemmed edge meets up with the 14″ mark.  You should have a 7″ fold and the wrong side of the the hem should be facing you. Pin in place.

    For Curved Back Chairs:

  • Along the top fold, make a mark 1-1/2” in from each side (Point A).
  • Along the side edges, make a mark  is 5” down from the top and ½” in from the side (Point B).
  • Note where the outer edge of the top hem lines up with the 14″ marks (Point C).
  • Draw a slightly curved line connecting the Points A, B & C along each side.
  • Sew along marked line. Trim and finish raw edges as desired. Reinforce stitch on both sides 1-2” above and down to Point C.

    For Straight Back Chairs:

  • Sew side seams with 1/2″ seam allowance from top of fold to hemmed edge. Trim and finish  raw edges as desired. Reinforce stitch the side seams near the hemmed edges.


  • Turn right side out and press.

You have now made the part that hangs over the top of the chair.   If you plan to add name pockets or embellish with applique/embroidery, now is the time to do it.

Pocket part that holds everything:

  • Lay your chair pocket with the newly sewn Seat Back Cover facing you.
  • Fold the remaining hemmed edge up so that it overlaps the bottom edge of the Seat Back Cover by about 2-1/2”. Pin in place.
  • Create a gusset by folding the bottom fold up again 1-1/2”. Pin in place on both sides. This allows the seat pocket to hold bulky items.
  • Stitch the side seams using a ½” seam allowance from the bottom (gusset) of the chair pocket “blending” as necessary where the Pocket and Seat Back Cover sections overlap. (Do not stitch across the gusset – only along the sides!) Trim and finish raw edges as desired. Reinforce stitch at the bottom pleat and again along the sides where the top and bottom sections overlap.
  • Turn right side out and press.

Repeat for each chair pocket