Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Ginger Jeans: Back Pocket Design Inspiration

If you follow me on instagram, you know I've finally cracked into that Cone Mills denim and embarked on the famous Ginger Jeans journey. Whoo-hoo! 

Making a particular wardrobe item causes you to look pretty deeply at the design choices and details. There are lots of those on jeans that we just take for granted-- one of the big ones is the back pocket. The pattern suggests very early in the process that you might want to add a design to the back pocket, but beyond interfacing, the choices are left up to you. That's always a both exciting and overwhelming for me!

Faced with a blank pocket, I decided to do a quick internet survey and share the results with you. A special thanks to the Jeans Pocket Project Wiki for pulling together so many great images, lots of these come from their collection.
First up, the most elaborate! 

Top Row, left to right: unidentified; Siwy;
Bottom Row: People 4 Peace; Chip N Pepper; unidentified

There are some VERY elaborate back pockets out there... think rhinestones, studs, chains, and zippers! The ones I have here are relatively tame, but they all seemed to be well balanced and very wearable. I love the black on black roses, but that won't be happening without an embroidery machine. The multiple colors of topstitching thread is a nice idea, and I also like the use of denim-on-denim applique. The bits of leather on the Siwy pocket are beautiful, I have to remember that for the future. I'm in love with the last design, it is both contemporary and organic. It would be time consuming to replicate, but very doable.

Paper Denim and Cloth; Urban Ring; Designs by Bellabug, made for her daughter
unidentified; Paige Premium Tidal Pocket, Page Premium Tidal Pocket

The basic curve, and variations. These designs are all classic, feminine and timeless. The simplicity of the top left is lovely... a simple well-placed line is a great detail. At the more elaborate end of things, the appliqu├ęd wave design is really lovely.

1921; Earnest Sewn; Acne; Bluejeanious
Stronghold; Yanuk; Loomstate; Calvin Klein

There are quite a few designs that incorporate a decorative outline of the pocket. Very simple, doable, and effective. I love the handstitch detail of the 1921, the curves of the Earnest Sewn Pocket, and the multiple colors used by several of the designs. My favorite is the subtle asymmetry of the Calvin Klein pocket.

Armani Exchange; Diesel; Mavi; Abercrombie
Jake Agave; Moussy; Ralph Lauren; Levi Strauss
And, of course, there are innumerable variants of the horizontal squiggle. Perhaps the most famous is the last-- the iconic Levis pocket design, over which they have sued their competitors. It seems like the big names in RTW jeans are crowded into this category... imitation is the best flattery, non?

After looking at all of these designs, I decided to stick with something simple for my first pair of jeans. The second grouping of images above, showing simple curve designs, is my inspiration. I also think this would be quite reasonable on my standard, no-frills sewing machine: no 360 degree turns or fancy stitches please! I traced my pocket pattern piece several times onto a sheet of tracing paper, and drew in the seam allowances. To further add some design boundaries, I cut out a pleasing curve on a piece of cardboard and used that as a template, drawing three or four lines.

In the top row, I tried having those lines intersect in different ways. On the bottom row, I took one design and experimented with subtle variations of where the lines intersect the edges of the pocket. These sketches could be more drawn with more care, but I was doing this late at night, and I didn't want to use up too much of my precious sewing time!

The possibilities are endless! But I am gravitating towards the lower left. What do you think?


  1. The lower left looks lovely, I also like the middle one at the top. I've never really paid attention to the seamlines on back pockets but it's definitely something to think about on my next pair of jeans!

  2. Thanks for the feedback. I like the one on the middle top too... sort of spirograph-y now that I think about it.

  3. I like the lower left. Great inspiration!