Tutorial: Upcycled Book Pocket

This tutorial originally appeared on Stumbles & Stitches’ blog, where I did a guest post for their “Feather Your Nest” Contest.Upcycled Book Pocket tutorial by Feathered Nest StudioI am so delighted to be guest blogging (and a Feather Your Nest judge!) on Stumbles & Stitches’ blog! I simply adore all their projects and handmade goodies, so it is an honor.

I love re-purposing things! I think it is exciting to take something whose original purpose has been fulfilled and turn it into something else, giving it whole new life. Even as a teenager I would do this and took those lovely crates clementines come in and decoupaged them with my favorite quotes and images. Then I could use it to store my CD’s or other favorite goodies. When I was younger still, I took spools and buttons and little cardboard boxes and turned them into dollhouse furniture. (I confess, I still make such things, but since I opened an online shop I can now claim it is for work and feel grown-up about it!)
flower table set from spools and buttons
I admit, though, that I am a bit of a “snob” because that repurposed thing has to not only be useful again but beautiful. The aesthetics of that new old object better fit my love of clean lines, classic design, and beautiful color.

The project I am going to show you here meets those criteria, or at least I think so! You can pick any colors or patterns you like, to make it fit your own idea of beauty. As the mom of a three year old and stepmom to a now 12 year old (not sure how he has gotten so big!), I am well familiar with clutter, the ouch of toys under socked feet, and books strewn about.

So when I saw the very cool “Feather Your Nest” project Stumbles & Stitches is doing, I knew I had to create something to help organize at least one kiddo’s room. (Plus I had to participate because my own creative business is called Feathered Nest Studio!) So without further ado, here is a project that reuses an ordinary object AND will help you control clutter while looking cute.
Upcycled Book Pocket

Tutorial: Upcycled Book Pocket
by Jennet Mae Jones of Feathered Nest Studio

I use this hanging book pocket, made from a pillow case and scrap fabric, at the end of my tot’s bed to keep his favorite books handy and off the floor. You could use it for toys, PJ’s, or whatever you want, and it can hang anywhere you can tie it to.

You Need:
– 1 Pillowcase
– 2nd Pillowcase or scrap fabric (could be from an old sheet or just from your stash; I used a blue rocket fabric I had left over from a different project)
– Embroidery floss and needle (optional)

1) Measure up 10″ from closed side of pillowcase. Cut and set aside this piece. This is your pillowcase pocket.
Cut at 10 inches

2) Cut four 15×3″ strips from remaining pillowcase fabric. Iron. Fold the two long sides of each strip in towards center, then fold this in half so raw edges are hidden in the center. Press with iron, then pin. With wrong side of fabric up, fold short ends down a quarter inch, then snip away a little of the corners to remove bulk.
Making ties Making ties 2

Making ties 3 making-ties-4

3) Sew along outer edge so all layers are sewn together. These are your ties.
Making ties 5

4) With your scrap fabric or a second pillowcase (my blue rocket fabric), cut out two 20 x 5″ pieces. Sew a quarter inch hem along one of the 20″ sides. Then sew your two pieces together, with right sides facing, on the two short sides so you have a big loop.
Hemming accent fabric Sewing hem on accent fabric

Sewing Accent fabric to make a loop

5) Turn your pillowcase pocket so the wrong sides are facing out. Take the loop you sewed and put it around the open end of your pillowcase pocket, with the right side of your loop facing down on the wrong side of your pillowcase pocket.

The cut top edge of your pillowcase should be lined up with the cut edge of your loop, not the hemmed edge. Your pillowcase pocket is inside of your loop. If you were to look at it as four layers from bottom up, you have accent fabric right side up, then pillowcase fabric right side up, then pillow case fabric right side down, then accent fabric right side down.
Layering everything together

6) Between the top two layers (1 layer accent fabric and 1 layer pillowcase fabric), slide one of your ties in two inches from the right edge and pin these three layers together. Do the same two inches in from the left edge. Repeat for other side of your pocket so you end up with four ties attached. Be sure your pins only go through half of the layers on each side (only three layers– accent fabric, tie, pillowcase fabric) not the whole six layers!

Sew one set of three layers a half inch down from the top going all the way from left to right, being careful not to sew all the way through. Repeat for other side (other set of three layers). This sounds way more complicated then it is! What you are doing is making a cuff for your pillow pocket, with the ties sewn in.
Layering in ties

7) If you want to, add a gusset to the bottom of the pocket before you turn everything right side out. This gives your pocket square corners that add some structure. Basically you just reach into one corner with your finger, and press the bottom and side seams to meet into a triangle. Pin this flat, then sew up two inches from the point. Unpin. Repeat for the other bottom corner. The Sew Retro blog has a nice pictorial on how to do this, if you need more explanation. Turn the whole pocket right side out.
Making gusset 1 Making gusset 2

Makin gusset 3

8) Fold your top accent fabric down so its right side is showing and your Book Pocket Bag has a cuff. Sew this cuff down to the body of your pocket bag so it doesn’t come unfolded, either with your sewing machine or with needle and embroidery floss like I did. You can then embroider “Books” or “Toys” on one side of the cuff, if you want.
Fold cuff down

detail of embroidery

9) Done! Hang your Upcycled Book Pocket Bag at the foot of your child’s bed, the side of a rocking chair, or wherever you want, and start picking that stuff up off the floor!
Using the Book Pocket

Upcycled Book Pocket tutorial by Feathered Nest Studio


*Book recommendation: One of the books peaking out of my son’s book pocket is What’s This? by Caroline Mockford. I bought this book when I was still teaching and did sunflower and cat paintings with my kindergarteners. It is a great book that goes through the cycle of a seed to a plant, with gorgeous illustrations. It is also published by one of my favorite publishers, Barefoot Books. The kids all loved it. I definitely recommend it!