Disclaimer: This guide assumes you have access to a sewing machine and at least a basic understanding of how to use it, or have access to someone who can help you with using a machine.
Things you’ll need to make a pocket square:
- Strip of fabric 12″-14″ wide (cotton works best, silky material is much more difficult to work with)
- Cutting tool (rotary or scissors)
- Cutting surface/mat
- Sewing machine/needle/thread
- Iron and ironing board
- 30-45 minutes of time
Despite what you might have thought after seeing some of the prices of pocket squares while out shopping, they’re incredibly easy to make. Which means that you should be making them yourself and saving a ton of money.
Ready to get started? Well brace yourself because in about a half hour you’ll be sitting pretty.
Step 1: Cut Your Material
First off, take your strip of material and square it up to something around 12″-14″. I prefer a 12″ rough cut as it puts the finished square somewhere around 11″. If you prefer a bigger or smaller square, cut to your personal preference. The size doesn’t really matter so long as it’s square.
It doesn’t need to be absolutely perfect but the closer you get to a square, the better your finished product will look (it’s not called a pocket rectangle). If you don’t have a mat and rotary cutter, scissors and a ruler will do the trick just fine. Hell, I’m pretty sure you could do with with a book and a razor blade, which would be extra manly. Anyway, the point is that when faced with an obstacle, get creative to find a resolution.
Step 2: Prepare Your Rough Cut Square For Sewing
Once you have your rough square, fold over all 4 edges with about a 1/4″ fold. If you’re brand new to sewing and want some more breathing room, you can go a little wider, you’ll just have a wider edge when you’re finished.
Pro-tip: use your fingernail or something hard like a coin to help persuade those folded edges to stay where you want. It’ll make ironing in a minute a little easier.
When all 4 edges are folded over, you’re going to do a second fold on each edge so that there are no exposed unfinished edges. There are a handful of different techniques for dealing with the corners, some more advanced than others. Personally, I prefer these straight folds. They’re super quick and easy, look pretty good when finished but still have a little character as each corner will likely have slight variances.
Probably not something you’d wear with a perfectly cut suit to a formal event but it’ll look great in a denim jacket or shirt pocket when you want to add a personal touch to your outfit.
Step 3: Sew!
Once those 4 edges have been double folded over by hand, give each side a quick hit with your iron just to lock down those folds and make your life a little easier when you start sewing.
Now, start from any corner and don’t forget to do a few back stitches to lock it in.
When you get to the first corner, run up to the edge and stop after you’ve sewn into all layers of the material. Lift up the foot and just turn the whole square 90 degrees so you’re back to sewing the next edge. Depending on the type and thickness of the material you’re using, this might get a little tricky. Just take your time and don’t be afraid to help the material along with your seam ripper or whatever else you have on hand (a buck knife or pair of pliers might work). Just watch those fingers.
Run over all 4 edges until you get back to where you started. Back stitch to close, trim your ends and that’s it, you’re done!
Step 4: Bask In The Glory Of Your Accomplishment
Throw that bad boy into your favorite breast pocket and revel in your dapperness. When you’re done doing that, you might as well sew your own bow tie to go with that new pocket square.