A perfect little chair back pocket tutorial.


  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Fabric yardage for main chair back cover (I used a blue-white sailcloth)
  • Fabric for pocket (I used canvas upcycled dish towel scraps)
  • Sewing supplies (needles, thread, machine, fingers, etc.)


1. Measure the back of your chair.

In my case, the chair back measures 15 inches wide and 17 inches long. But it also has some little wooden muscles on the sides which cannot be ignored, unless I want the chair to resemble a weight-lifter bulging through a tight muscle tee.

When I measured the wood on the sides of the chair, I got another two inches to my width. You also need to add an inch or two (depending on your sewing precision style) to both width and length for seams. I decided to go with 19 x 19 inches as my dimension.

2. Cut your main fabric piece.

At this point, you can cut and pin your fabric one of two ways. If you have a long piece of fabric, you can cut one piece for the main body. Alternately, you can cut two pieces of fabric for the main body and then stitch them together.

The main difference is that the first option only has seams along the sides of the chair back cover while the second option has seams along the top of the chair back cover as well as the sides. I chose to cut one long piece which measured 19 x 13 inches because my materials and vision tend towards the rough-hewn in this project.

3. Cut your fabric pocket.

The pocket should be made from a material sturdy enough to hold books and paper upright. Since you want to pocket to be large enough to hold notebooks and more, it will be almost the same size as your fabric dimension minus a few inches in length and width.

My pocket fabric is 14 inches wide and 15 inches long. You can play around with these numbers until you get a pocket size that suits your aesthetic and practical needs.

4. Hem one edge of your pocket fabric.

On the other hand, if you want a clean look all around, you should go ahead and pin all the pocket edges 1 inch inside the pocket. You can sew all but the top part down as you attach the pocket to the main fabric.

5. Sew your pocket to the main fabric piece.

Pin it first to make sure it is correctly aligned. If you want the finished look, then make sure your edges are folded in before you start stitching. For a rough edge, like mine, just lay your pocket flat and pin in the corners.

I decided to use a zig-zag stitch again because the sailcloth has such beautiful texture with zig-zags and I wanted to bring that out. To really highlight this texture, I decreased the stitch length to a 2 on my Husky Viking and ran around the edges twice. It isn’t so often that I really want the stitches to stand out so much, but the sailcloth just loves it!

6. Stitch the main fabric pieces together.

Now that your pocket is attached, take your fabric and lay it over the top of the chair to get a sense of spacing and proportion. Then spread out your main fabric wrong side up and fold it with the inside facing out.

Turn your fabric right side out and trim any extra fabric from the edges.

7. Hem the lower edge of the main fabric.

Slip your chair back cover over the chair to see if you need to trim the length before you start hemming.

Keeping with the shabby, zig-zaggedy look, I decided not to tuck under the edges when hemming the bottom. Instead, I just zig-zagged my way across as close to the edge as possible and then pulled a few threads to fray the edge a bit.

If you are going for the polished look, just roll your edge under twice and stitch it down.

8. Cut off all your extra fabric and threads and load ‘er up.

Milla decided that a doll’s baby bottle really belonged in the pocket. I’m quite happy with the way it turned out. Please share links to your similar creations and other chair back pockets so I can oooo and aaahhh.

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