Come Stitch With ME, LLC

Sewing Instruction, Tech Editing & Supplies

chairpocket

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″

TO MAKE CHAIR POCKET FOR STRAIGHT BACK CHAIR:
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)

BASIC SEWING INSTRUCTIONS:

  • 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.

    FOR ALL VERSIONS:

  • 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

My little rescue mutt and I are a regular R.E.A.D. (Reading Education Assistance Dog) team at one of the Cobb County Public Library branches in Marietta.  We are now in our third year of offering R.E.A.D. sessions after school the 1st & 3rd Wednesdays of the month.  We participate in celebrations with the public library, as well as special events with Marietta City and Cobb County Schools.  We also present summer programs for the public library and appear as a guest speakers at after-school pet clubs.

In the back of my mind has always been to be able to make therapy dog visits to some of our local children’s hospitals. Moving 20 miles closer in to Atlanta has made this a possibility, but as I learned yesterday, CHOA has a contract with two other area pet therapy groups, so Boomer and I are unable to visit the CHOA facilities unless we go through the hoops to become a member of one of those groups.  No, thank you.  We’ve already been through enough hoops to join the two groups with whom we are already affiliated.

You know where this is going, right?  Don’t tell me I can’t do something I really want to do…

Yesterday, Boomer and I made our first official hospital visit as a CAREIng Paws team at an area health care facility.  We visited with teens and young adults who are undergoing treatment for substance abuse.  Admittedly, it’s not what I originally had in mind for hospital visits, but another CAREing Paws member convinced me to give it a try.  I’m glad we went.

Living closer in means I can be almost anywhere in Atlanta in less than 30 minutes. Boomer received lots and lots of petting. I had some interesting conversations with the young people.  The one that really stuck with me was the young man who compared the various treatment facilities where he’d been a guest.  I kept my mouth shut, but I so badly wanted to respond “Why do you keep doing the same behavior that gets you back in rehab?  Don’t you want to go on to be a productive member of society?” We’ll be back next month and I hope NOT to see some of those same faces.

In case you were wondering, CAREing Paws is the organization that my sewing business supports.  If you purchase a pattern in my Etsy shop, take a class or commission a quilt, 10% of the proceeds goes to CAREing Paws.

Look in an elementary school classroom with tables and chairs instead of desks and you are likely to find seat back pockets on the chairs to help with student organization!  It’s basically a slipcover for the chair with a big pocket on the back to hold school supplies, library books and even textbooks.  They can be plain, multi-pocketed and/or blinged to your heart’s content.

My task was to figure out how to make sturdy “seat sacks” for a friend’s classroom that would have a pocket deep enough to hold a library book, writing journal and a pencil box. She has 12″ plastic stack chairs with the curved tops.  I spent a few minutes after school making a template of the chair back and taking some measurements.  A little web-surfing yielded some design ideas and I drafted my master pattern piece.  A quick trip to Hobby Lobby yielded the twill I needed to construct the prototype.

Will report back and post a tutorial tomorrow after the fitting.

Update:  The prototype cover fit like a glove, but there wasn’t enough room to hold everything that the teacher wanted to seat sacks to hold.  It was a little too fitted shall we say.  So, I went back to the drawing board, made the sack 1″ wider, lessened the upper curve a great deal, increased the “gusset” fold at the bottom to 1-1/2″ and added a gradual curve to the upper edge of the back seat pocket to provide a little easier access to student materials.  And being ever so mindful of the washability factor of the seat sacks, I picked up some 65% polyester/35% cotton bottom weight twill fabric at Joann’s.  It’s not the pretty marine blue that I found at Hobby Lobby;  however, the substituted fabric choice is certainly more practical and within my friend’s budget.  And I promise that a tutorial is coming once everything is the way we like it.

P.S.  Did you know elementary school chairs come in 3 sizes – 12″, 14″ and 16″? The 12″ is the typical K & 1st chair and the 16″ is the typical 2nd – 5th chair – at least at my school anyway.

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